The Miami Dolphins are beginning to clean house as Joe Philbin aims to collect 53 players who approach their jobs with professionalism, maturity, bladder control, domestic tranquility and general talent.
With 32 players entering the final years of their respective contracts, the time to start planning for the future begins now.
By the time all 32 NFL teams trim their rosters down to 53 on Friday, more than 1,000 players will hit the open market. Although the pickings will be slim, there will be—and already are—a few players worth investing in.
Don't expect the Dolphins to pursue veterans who will only contribute modest numbers for one season. What good does that do the team? The Dolphins know they won't compete in 2012, so it makes far more sense to dedicate reps to young players with big upside rather than veterans who are over the hill.
James Jones, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers (Note: Jones isn't a potential roster cut, but I thought I'd include him here due to the speculation about him and the Dolphins.)
Ever since the Dolphins wide receiving corps embarrassed itself against the Falcons last Friday, speculation that the team will deal for Packers wide receiver James Jones has run rampant.
Jones played under Joe Philbin in all four of his NFL seasons, and Green Bay's surplus of wide receivers might make him expendable.
However, this trade will only happen if the Dolphins can get Jones for a fair price. Don't overestimate Jones. Yes, he would provide a substantial upgrade over Legedu Naanee, but surrendering anything more than a middle-round draft pick would be outlandish for a player who has never caught more than 50 passes or five touchdowns in a season—though he is behind Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver in the pecking order.
Diondre Borel, Tori Gurley and Jarrett Boykin, Wide Receivers, Green Bay Packers
Beyond Jones, three other Packers wideouts are also candidates to land with the Dolphins.
Diondre Borel, Tori Gurley and Jarrett Boykin are all UDFAs vying for spots on Green Bay's roster, but none of them have secured a spot. Given this team's abundance of high-caliber wide receivers, there's a chance none of them will make the cut.
The Dolphins can scoop one up off the waiver wire or poach one from the Packers' practice squad.
Of the three, Boykin is the crown jewel. Not only has he outproduced Borel and Gurley this preseason, he's outproduced all of Green Bay's wideouts. Of course, nothing is more meaningless than preseason stats, but according to Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel, "[Boykin] usually catches everything thrown to him in practice."
A wide receiver who doesn't drop passes? Sounds like he'd be a welcome addition in Miami.
Terrence Frederick, Cornerback, Pittsburgh Steelers
Although Frederick's hasn't turned any heads in Steelers training camp, there are two factors that make him a possible pickup if he's cut.
Firstly, he's a Texas A&M alum who played under Mike Sherman for the entirety of his career with the Aggies. Considering the Dolphins have already brought in three of Sherman's former players this offseason—Ryan Tannehill, Jorvorskie Lane and Jeff Fuller—they can make room for one more at a position of need.
Secondly, any player who catches the Steelers' eye is worth a second look. Pittsburgh has one of the league's best scouting departments. The team clearly saw something in Frederick, and maybe he can put it all together with Mike Sherman's help.
Tommy Streeter and Deonte Thompson, Wide Receivers, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens may have the league's best scouting department, so their roster cuts are worth checking out, too.
Tommy Streeter, a 2012 sixth-round draft pick, and Deonte Thompson, an undrafted free agent, are vying for one spot on Baltimore's 53-man roster. You might recognize Streeter from his days at the University of Miami and Thompson from his time at the University of Florida.
Streeter's measurables are jaw-dropping—6'5", 220 pounds, 4.4 speed—but he's struggling to harness his physical gifts. Thompson, meanwhile, is an unassuming 6'0", 203 pounds, but he boasts 4.3 speed and has produced as a wideout and return specialist this preseason.
Whichever player doesn't crack the Ravens' 53-man roster should draw some interest from the Dolphins.
Antonio Dixon, Defensive Tackle, Philadelphia Eagles
At 27-years-old, Dixon is the oldest player on this list, but in the grand scheme of things, he's still young.
Dixon is a 6'3", 322 pound defensive tackle who can move very well for a player his size but he specializes in stuffing the run with his massive frame. He started 10 games for the Eagles in 2010, and just when it appeared as though he was making a name for himself, he tore his triceps four weeks into the 2011 season.
The Eagles have one of the league's deepest defensive lines and there might not be any more room for Dixon.
The Dolphins would benefit from unloading Tony McDaniel and his $3 million cap hit. If the Phins indeed part with McDaniel, Dixon could be a perfect and cheap replacement.
Darryl Tapp, Defensive End, Philadelphia Eagles
Tapp is another 27-year-old Eagles defensive lineman who might not make the cut.
Although he hasn't been particularly productive since the Seahawks traded him to the Eagles in 2010, Tapp can bring pass rushing support to a team that clearly still needs it. Plus, he'd have a chance to rejuvenate his career in Miami, where he would receive far more reps than he did in Philly.
Tapp's $2.75 million cap hit makes him an unlikely trade target for the Dolphins. But, if the Eagles can't find a trade suitor before Friday, then the Phins can scoop him up for a bargain.
Jaiquawn Jarrett, Safety, Philadelphia Eagles
The third and final Eagles on this list is the most likely to land with the Dolphins.
From Jeff McLane of the Inquirer:
"Selected 54th overall in the 2011 NFL draft, the safety is battling to secure a spot on the Eagles' 53-man roster. How is that so? When you are splitting second- and third-team repetitions with a journeyman who has three career starts, your job is on the line.
...The second-year safety's struggles didn't just pop up on Thursday night out of thin air. It's been an ongoing problem since the Eagles selected the Temple product two to three rounds before most - if not all - draft analysts had projected him to be taken."
It's worth noting that Jarrett rebounded with a decent showing against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 of the preseason, but he may be doomed nevertheless.
Dolphins starting safeties Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons haven't exactly set the world on fire this preseason. Although Jarrett might not push either for a starting job, he could contribute immediately on special teams and make for a nice developmental project.
Jarrett was a hybrid safety-linebacker at Temple, which has made his transition to the NFL increasingly difficult. There's no doubt he has the potential to become a serviceable player—at the very least—he just needs to find the right coaching staff that can help define him as a player. Maybe Kevin Coyle is the man for the job.
Carlton Mitchell, Wide Receiver, Cleveland Browns
The Browns released Carlton Mitchell, a 2010 sixth-round pick, on Monday, and he's a player the Dolphins will most definitely take a look at. Mitchell is a Florida native and USF alum who weighs in at 6'3", 215 pounds and boasts 4.4 speed.
His measurables are incredible, but he hardly saw game action in 2010, and a broken finger hindered him throughout 2011. In total, he registered just three receptions for 16 yards in two seasons with the Browns.
Mitchell was a disappointment in Cleveland, but a player with his measurables deserves a second chance—especially considering he received minimal opportunity with the Browns. Given his background in Florida, the Phins are bound to at least give him a look.