A team source in Miami indicates that the Dolphins have their eyes set on a big offseason. The coaching staff will return perhaps intact, and there’s a sense that with a few smart trimmings here and there, the Dolphins could be back in the postseason in 2018.
The feeling now is that Ryan Tannehill will be the quarterback next season, and his deal even could be extended by a year if it helps the club clear a little salary-cap space in the short term. Jay Cutler is as good as gone. Matt Moore could be back as the stopgap backup, but it also wouldn’t shock us if Miami considers a quarterback in the first few rounds of the draft.
If the Dolphins also can do some financial work on some high-cap contracts such as those of Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake (assuming he’s back), Mike Pouncey and others, they should help add space that would allow them to keep free-agent receiver Jarvis Landry. There’s no indication that the team wants to move on from him, despite his occasional distractions, after refusing to move him at the trade deadline. They're confident Landry will be back and at a salary they can live with.
Candidates to be cut include Ja’Wuan James, Julius Thomas, Lawrence Timmons and possibly Kiko Alonso, although cutting Alonso wouldn’t help much in terms of the cap because of the way the team structured his deal. Sinking big money into Timmons and Alonso proved to be poor moves, so the Dolphins know that simply being wantonly aggressive likely isn’t an option going forward.
Instead, look for them to target a few key areas of major need — offensive line being chief among them, with three of the five starting spots potentially up in the air — to improve the roster. That could come in the form of draft picks, high-priced veteran additions and lower-cost moves. Other positions that must be addressed include linebacker, tight end and running back. The lack of depth there and at other spots really hurt when injuries started rolling in.
The team also believes it’s in a good spot to do well in the draft with three picks in the top 75, plus an extra fourth-rounder (from the Jay Ajayi trade) to its name. Plus, when you consider that 2017 first-round pick Charles Harris just started to come on late in the season and that second-rounder Raekwon McMillan got hurt early after making a good impression, next year’s roster will receive boosts from those players being good to go in Year 2.