The Dolphins on Tuesday dealt one of their six former Pro Bowler players on offense (Jay Ajayi) for essentially a bag of chips, leaving them with five, more than you might expect.
And this much is clear: Each of those five - Jarvis Landry, Mike Pouncey, Jay Cutler, Jermon Bushrod and Julius Thomas must provide more than they have through seven games. In most cases, a lot more.
Thomas and Cutler and Bushrod are likely gone after the season, Landry might be too, and Pouncey needs to prove worthy of the five year, $52 million extension signed two years ago.
Beyond Cutler, chatter on the four other remaining Dolphins offensive Pro Bowlers:
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• Landry: He has as many drops in seven games (five) as he had all of 2016, and even though he’s second in the league in receptions, he’s 124th of 146 NFL players in yards per catch.
Among NFL wide receivers, only Cole Beasley and Brandon LaFell are averaging less than Landry’s 8.0 per reception.
Part of that is beyond Landry’s control, because he is thrown an inordinate number of passes at or near the line of scrimmage, many of which have yielded negligible results.
But Landry is partly responsible, too: Last season, he averaged 6.7 yards after catch for each reception; this season, it’s 3.5.
Last season, he was fifth in YAC yards with 634, behind only one other receiver (Golden Tate, who had 635). This year, he’s 26th with 175.
And though the Dolphins informed him Tuesday that he would not be traded, they aren’t entirely thrilled with him. He hasn’t correctly carried out some assignments, as colleague Armando Salguero noted on his blog.
One team source who speaks with Landry regularly said Landry has been upset, at times, that the Dolphins haven’t given him a contract extension, though he hasn’t complained publicly.
He doesn’t seem in a very good mood, snapping at reporters more than past years, including an angry confrontation with a colleague of mine after Thursday’s game.
And it would no longer be the least bit surprising if the Dolphins don’t try to keep him next spring. Instead of applying a $16 million franchise tag, the Dolphins could try to find a similar player at a fraction of the cost on the second day of the draft.
• Coach Adam Gase expressed confidence this offseason that he would be able to maximize Thomas, but it hasn’t happened.
Thomas, who caught 24 touchdowns in 28 games with Gase as his coordinator and Peyton Manning as his quarterback in Denver, ranks 26th among tight ends in receptions with 17 and 31st in yards receiving with 168.
Fifty tight ends have touchdown catches; Thomas isn’t among them.
PFF ranks Thomas 57th of 69 tight ends, including 63rd as a run blocker. He’s now sharing snaps with Anthony Fasano; both played 36 against Baltimore.
The Dolphins assuredly will look for a new tight end after the season. Thomas has a $6.6 million cap hit if he’s on the team next season, and no hit if he’s not.
• Though the Dolphins have defended Pouncey’s play, Pro Football Focus ranks him just 23rd overall among 36 centers and 29th as a run blocker and asserts this is his worst run blocking season of his career.
At least three runs up the middle against Baltimore produced negative yards.
Pouncey has a $9 million cap hit if he’s on the team in 2018, $2 million if he’s not. Considering the Dolphins’ offensive line is weak enough as it is, it would be surprising if they part ways with their most skilled lineman barring a recurrence of his hip injury. But more value is needed for that money.
As for Bushrod, he has been more openly critical of his play than any other Dolphins player this season. PFF ranks him 63rd of 78 guards and he knows he must be better after the Dolphins showed enough faith to keep him for a second season.
Here’s a look at the four roster moves the Dolphins made today.
Here’s a look at UM being slighted in the first College Football Playoff rankings.