Possibly the most surprising developmental of the Dolphins’ final cuts was that they kept 4 quarterbacks. Not only does that almost never happen, the Dolphins were assumed to be keeping 2, Ryan Tannehill and either Matt Moore or David Garrard as a veteran backup. If they kept 3, it was assumed that the 3rd one would be Pat Devlin, a developmental 2011 undrafted free agent, because of his upside and because of Moore’s and Garrard’ salaries.
However, the Dolphins kept all 4. This is likely in an effort to try to trade one of the veterans to a team needing a veteran backup for a late round pick. Neither of their salaries is guaranteed until September 6th. Green Bay is looking for an upgrade over Graham Harrell and if they don’t like any of the quarterbacks cut like Mike Kafka or Brian Hoyer, they could send Miami a late round pick for Moore or Garrard. Whoever is not traded will stick around as the primary backup to Tannehill, while Devlin as a developmental 3rd quarterback and a frequent game day inactive.
Top two backs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas were locks, as was 3rd stringer Lamar Miller, a 4th round rookie. The only question at running back for the Dolphins was whether or not they would keep 4 backs and who that 4th back was. The Dolphins tried to trade 4th stringer Steve Slaton to the Redskins for wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, but eventually cut Slaton and signed Armstrong, a final cut by Washington. They kept Marcus Thigpen, a free agent acquisition as their 4th back because of his special teams ability. Undrafted rookie Jonas Gray is currently on the PUP and could be transferred to IR and preserved for 2013. Jorvorskie Lane was kept as the fullback.
The Dolphins have one of the league’s worst receiving corps and because of that, there weren’t a lot of locks for the roster in the receiving corps. For example, some predicted 2011 4th round pick Clyde Gates would have taken the next step, capitalized on his athletic gifts, and moved up the depth chart into the starting lineup. Instead, he had a bad offseason and was cut from one of the league’s worst receiving corps.
Starters Brian Hartline and Legedu Naanee were locks, as was slot receiver Davone Bess. Starting tight end Anthony Fasano was a lock, as was 3rd round rookie Michael Egnew, even after a disappointing offseason. Along with Gates, 2010 undrafted free agents Marlon Moore and Robert Wallace and rookies Jeff Fuller (undrafted), BJ Cunningham (6th round), and Rishard Matthews (7th round), were all competing for spots on the depth chart.
Wallace joined Gates having a poor preseason, after being giving 1st team reps following the release of Chad Ochocinco. He was cut, as well as Fuller and Cunningham. Fuller was added to the practice squad, while Cunningham landed on the Eagles’ practice squad. Gates was snatched up by the Jets, whose offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was the Dolphins’ Head Coach when they drafted him last year. Moore and Matthews were kept and they signed Anthony Armstrong, a final cut of the Redskins.
Along with Fasano and Egnew, Charles Clay made the final 53. The 2011 6th round pick is actually listed 2nd on their depth chart and will be their “move” tight end. Jeron Mastrud was also kept as the 3rd string tight end, meaning Egnew will be 4th on their depth chart. He’ll be purely developmental this year and won’t see much action. It’s hardly a good start for his career, after he was widely considered a reach in the 3rd round.
Starters Jake Long (left tackle), Richie Incognito (left guard), Mike Pouncey (center), and Jonathan Martin (right tackle) were locks. At right guard, Artis Hicks was pretty much a lock after winning the starting job by default over the disappointing John Jerry. Jerry, a 2010 3rd round pick who is a poor fit for their scheme and who showed up to Training Camp overweight, was on the roster bubble after losing his starting job to Hicks, an 34 year lineman who struggled as a reserve in Cleveland last year.
However, after Eric Steinbach retired, the Dolphins decided to keep Jerry. He’s one of two reserve guards kept, along with Nate Garner. Garner might be activated on game day over him. The Dolphins traded reserve center Ryan Cook to the Cowboys and made undrafted free agent Josh Samuda their primary backup at center. Their 9th offensive lineman is Will Yeatman, a swing tackle, who won that job over Lydon Murtha. If Long is hurt week 1 and can’t go, Yeatman could start at left tackle or Martin could start at left tackle and Yeatman would play right tackle.
On the defensive line, starters Cameron Wake, Jared Odrick, Randy Starks, Paul Soliai were all locks, as was 3rd round pick Olivier Vernon, who is expected to play a situational role as a rookie. Tony McDaniel, one of their top remaining reserves from last season, was also kept, as were two rookies, undrafted free agent defensive end Derrick Shelby and 7th round defensive tackle Kheeston Randall. With the team keeping 4 quarterbacks, 4 running backs (5 including fullback), and 4 tight ends on offense, they didn’t have as many spots for defensive players as most teams. Shelby and Randall could be frequent game day inactives as rookies, beating out Ryan Baker and Isaako Aaitui.
Starters Koa Misi, Kevin Burnett, and Karlos Dansby were all locks, as it seemed 5th round rookie Josh Kaddu was. However, Kaddu was cut the day after final cuts to make room for Sammy Brown, an undrafted free agent cut loose by the Rams. Kaddu must have been pretty bad in camp to get cut for an undrafted free agent who wasn’t in camp and who was cut by the team with one of the league’s thinnest linebacking corps. Kaddu could still be added to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
The other two linebackers kept were Jason Trusnik and Austin Spitler, who surprisingly made the roster over veteran Gary Guyton, who played a prominent role with the Patriots over the past few seasons. Perhaps the linebacker needy Patriots will bring him back. Jonathan Freeny and Cameron Collins, two undrafted free agents, were also cut, with Freeny being cut the day after final cuts to open up a spot for cornerback RJ Stanford.
After trading Vontae Davis, the Dolphins became very thin at cornerback. Sean Smith and Richard Marshall could hold down the starting spots just fine, but their depth was pretty much gone. Nolan Carroll, their incumbent 4th string cornerback, was expected to be their nickel cornerback and because of that was pretty much a lock for the roster. Somewhat unsurprisingly, those were the only 3 cornerbacks the Dolphins kept, though it’s not like Vincent Agnew, Kevyn Scott, and Quinten Lawrence were really deserving of the roster. They signed RJ Stanford, who was cut by the Panthers in final cuts, but that leaves them with only 4 cornerbacks and most teams have 5. This could easily be a position where they add a player after trading (or worse case scenario, cutting) a quarterback.
Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons are the starters at safety, both underwhelming starters. The Dolphins didn’t have any good, proven depth though. In fact, their most experienced backup safety was Tyrone Culver, but he was cut. He was pretty bad last season. The Dolphins signed Troy Nolan, who was cut by the Texans, to replace him. He’s a veteran, but he’s unlikely to be much competition for either of the starters. The Dolphins also kept Jimmy Wilson, a 2011 7th round pick.
Davone Bess will return punts and Marcus Thigpen, a free agent acquisition this offseason, will return kicks, which is why he was kept as a 4th running back. Rishard Matthews will be the backup punt returner, part of why he made the receiving corps as a 7th round rookie perhaps, while Lamar Miller will be the backup kick returner. Brandon Fields and Dan Carpenter returns as place kicker and punter respectively and will be their only two kickers. John Denney, their long time long snapper, will continue in that role.
G Chandler Burden
WR Jeff Fuller
WR Chris Hogan
OT Andrew McDonald
CB DeAndre Presley
S Anderson Russell