Eventually, the Miami Dolphins will figure out where to play Albert Wilson.
When the team signed the wide receiver in the spring, many (I) thought he was headed for duty as a slot receiver because he played that position a lot last year for Kansas City ... The Dolphins created a long-term vacancy at slot by trading slot receiver Jarvis Landry ... And while Danny Amendola would be signed a day later, Amendola’s age and history with injuries, plus his cheaper contract suggested the Dolphins were going to rely mostly on Wilson.
But when this training camp opened last week we saw Wilson was mostly working with the backup offense. And Monday, the fifth day of this training camp, we learned Wilson is not a slot receiver.
“Yeah, he’s not a slot. That’s the funny part,” coach Adam Gase said. “Nobody understands, I mean, it’s a little frustrating. He’s an outside guy. If you play inside it’s a different animal. You got to have a special knack for it.”
So Wilson, who is 5-9 and got most of his snaps at the slot last year in Kansas City, isn’t a slot for the Dolphins?
“He played all over the place,” Gase said. “He played outside. He played inside. He played running back. It’s not that he can’t play slot. He’s really good outside.”
Wilson on Thursday talked about considering himself a slot receiver and getting practice repetitions with the Dolphins on the outside. And at slot.
“I’ve been lining up pretty much everywhere,” Wilson said. “It’s been a balance thing. They’re not pushing me to do everything at once. They’re kind of easing me into things and it’s a great lesson.”
If Amendola, who is working in the slot with the starting offense, were ever to be injured, Gase would not say Wilson, running with the second-team, would take over. And, yes, we all know Kenny Stills has been very productive when he gets snaps in the slot.
All this is curious if you realize the Dolphins say Wilson is not a slot but don’t necessarily have a set plan yet on what to do with him. That has yet to be worked out.
“We’ve really been working on developing the right plan for Albert because he does have a larger skill set than most receivers have,” Gase said. “He did a lot in Kansas City. If you go back and watch his college stuff, he did everything. And we’re going to keep working on finding exactly what his role is going to be.”
So how long is that going to take after the team committed a three-year, $24 million contract to Wilson in March and had him throughout the spring in minicamp and OTA sessions?
“I think that will develop through the duration of August,” Gase said. “Once we kind of figure that out and how this rotation is going to go when we’re going to get what group in there.”
I was obviously confused during Thursday’s press conference on this topic so Gase asked me why I was so stuck on it.
Here’s the reason:
I can understand paying $8 million for a starting slot receiver.
I can understand paying $8 million for a starting No. 2 outside wide receiver.
Wilson isn’t necessarily either of those at this stage. And that’s not a problem if the Dolphins have a super secret plan for utilizing Wilson and getting him maybe 100 touch attempts in 2018 (say perhaps 50 catches on 70 targets and 30 rushing attempts).
But you just read the plan is still on the drawing board.
So I’m a little troubled the Dolphins paid a player but seemed to have no clear vision of what he’s going to do and what specific role he’s going to play when they handed him his check in March.
I don’t mind figuring out roles for rookies or players working on minimum contracts as their play develops — or doesn’t.
But a team signing a player for three years and $24 million should have a clear vision of that player’s role.
I guess it’s a philosophical thing for me. But obviously not for the Dolphins.