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MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins were to battle for the AFC East title in 2021 after winning 10 games in 2020; instead, they missed the playoffs for the fifth season in a row disappointingly.
The team fired coach Brian Flores and hired 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, heralding an “innovative” era, as owner Stephen Ross put it.
“We look forward to him working with us and [general manager] Chris [Grier] in creating a team that will win the Super Bowls, “Ross said.” First, we need to start winning our conference matches and our division matches and hopefully get to the Super Bowl. “
Miami has $ 60 million north in salary cap to work on this offseason, most of which will be spent retaining its free agents and adding premiere players to its offensive line to support quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is embarking on a make-or-break -three. season.
From there, it’s McDaniel’s show. He has been described as an innovative player, known for his thinking outside the box.
That’s a good thing for the dolphins; with the Bills and Patriots in their division, they will need a little creativity to break through and get into the playoffs.
Expected salary cap: $ 61.3 million
Top Free Agents: TE Mike Gesicki, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, CB Nik Needham, WR Mack Hollins
Potential cutback candidates: Last season’s starting right tackle, Jesse Davis, had the NFL’s 188th best pass block win rate in 2021 out of 200 qualified offensive linemen. Miami can save $ 3.6 million by releasing Davis and filling the role with a high-end free agent.
The big question: How will Miami optimize this ceiling? Offensive tackle Terron Armstead? Does Chris Godwin receive? Maybe even the recipient Davante Adams? It’s wishful thinking, but the Dolphins have an enticing amount of cap space and should be big users after narrowly missing out on a playoff spot in 2021. There are a couple of great free agents to tackle, which is their biggest need. , and marquee players on wide receiver as well. There is also the question of Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard, who wants a restructured contract and out-of-season pay rise. With a strong free agency and draft, the dolphins can sling themselves into the next row in the AFC.
Best off-season scenario: Miami lands a marker offensive tackle and a high-end wide receiver – or manages a prey for Atlanta receiver Calvin Ridley. It also blesses Howard, Ogbah, Needham and Hollins to keep the core of his defense and special team intact.
Worst case offseason scenario: The cream of this year’s free agent crop is not sold at McDaniel, and the dolphins fail to sign a difference that makes a difference. They also lose on Ogbah and are forced to trade Howard after failing to reach agreement.
Early look at the NFL draft from ESPN analyst Jordan Reid: Putting Tagovailoa in an environment of success should be a priority in the 2022 draft. Adding another broad receiver and continuing to add protection to him are likely scenarios. The Dolphins could also look to build defensive line.
Top needs: OL, WR, DL
Top picks: No.29