As clubs around the NFL have begun releasing players not in their plans for 2018, you should know the Miami Dolphins will also have business of this sort to conduct in the next few weeks.
And although what is “out there” so far is basically speculation about different names being cut, it should be noted that one of the names in the media speculation bin does not belong.
On social media, within several fan sites and even in some mainstream media, the speculation has been that center Mike Pouncey is a candidate for having his salary adjusted or being cut.
And that’s simply not in the Dolphins’ plans, according to an NFL source.
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Although the team has not come out and said it plans to keep Pouncey, the idea that it will move on from a former Pro Bowl center with an injury history is obviously one that had to be discussed internally.
That discussion had to include the idea Pouncey remains a gamble in that his chronic hip issues should give pause to any team depending on him to play every game. The Dolphins managed the issue last year by limiting Pouncey’s practice time and he rewarded that management by playing all 16 games. Pouncey was Miami’s only offensive lineman who started every game.
That was a major win for the team. That was also outstanding work by the medical staff, the coaching staff, and Pouncey, who collaborated on a practice plan that limited the player’s participation during the week but allowed him to be available every game day.
That said, the Dolphins must understand good luck in 2017 does not assure good luck in 2018.
So the team has to determine whether keeping Pouncey mostly on the shelf during the week so he could play in games is a long-term solution. (Long-term is defined as 2018).
This is tricky because Pouncey is more than one year removed from his last issue. So logic dictates he should be stronger, better, in 2018.
But he’s older and more worn. So opposing logic says he’s more likely to get hurt.
And this: The team needs Pouncey to practice.
Pouncey, 29 in July, remains Miami’s best offensive lineman. He had a good 2017. But everyone believes he could have been elite if he’d been able to practice every day. And the Dolphins offensive line could have been better if the center and anchor of that line had been able to practice more.
So do the Dolphins roll the dice and ask Pouncey to work more during the week in 2018? That’s going to be an issue down the road.
Right now, the issue just addressed was whether to cut ties with Pouncey, addressing his $9 million cap figure. If the Dolphins had elected to cut Pouncey, they would save $7 million in cap space (with $2 million being added to the team’s dead money).
That savings is not to be dismissed. It’s significant.
But so is this:
Cutting Mike Pouncey would mean the Dolphins have one less good player.
Cutting Mike Pouncey would mean the Dolphins roster has one more hole.
Cutting Mike Pouncey would mean the Dolphins’ offensive line gets weaker.
And as the Dolphins need more good players, fewer holes and a stronger offensive line, cutting Mike Pouncey would be a very painful exercise.
So the Dolphins aren’t going down that road at this point. And I say “at this point” because you must remember these things are fluid. Decisions are made based on information at hand.
If Pouncey suddenly emerges from some private workout with a new or recurring injury or if new medical information comes in, the situation may change. Please remember that. Nothing is permanent until it is permanent.
But the plans now? Today?
Mike Pouncey will be a Miami Dolphin in 2018.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero