Biggest Question Marks Surrounding the Miami Dolphins' Offseason
The Miami Dolphins are faced with what is undoubtedly the most exciting and important offseason in recent memory.
With a rather large amount of cap space and an exuberant number of draft picks, Jeff Ireland should have all of the necessary tools to propel this team into playoff contention.
As is the case with any team that falls short of the Lombardi Trophy, there are plenty of issues that remain to be addressed in both free agency and the 2013 NFL draft.
Let's see how you, the fans, would answer the Dolphins' biggest questions heading into this offseason.
Is Jeff Ireland the Right Man for the Job?
This question will likely remain unanswered until we actually see the Dolphins take the field in 2013.
Jeff Ireland will be entering his sixth season as the team's general manager, and he has yet to produce a playoff product since his miraculous first-year turnaround in 2008.
There are numerous things that have been attributed to the Dolphins' poor performance during his tenure, so it's tough to say with any kind of certainty just how much of that losing effort rests on his shoulders.
He has, however, done an incredible job of setting the Dolphins up for what should be nothing short of a successful offseason in 2013.
It will be interesting to see how he manages his draft picks and cap space, and even more interesting to see if he does enough to earn some job security.
Can Anyone Be Salvaged from the Dolphins Secondary?
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Sean Smith has the size and speed that teams look for in a top-tier cornerback, but he also looks lost more often than not in coverage.
Richard Marshall's preseason performance led to the departure of Vontae Davis last summer, but mediocre play in his first few starts and a season-ending injury have stirred some questions surrounding his value to the secondary.
Then there's Nolan Carrol and Jimmy Wilson, who really aren't much to brag about either.
Can Smith be brought back at a reasonable price and act as a serviceable No. 2?
Is there anyone hiding in the depths of this roster who could possibly step up and contribute?
There is no doubt that Ireland is going to have to add at least a couple of cornerbacks through free agency and the draft, but where will he find a lockdown corner for this extremely weak secondary?
What to Do with the Offensive Line?
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Perennial Pro-Bowler Jake Long's contract is officially up.
After two consecutive injury-plagued seasons, it's easy to understand why the Dolphins may be hesitant to offer a long-term contract to their former first overall pick.
With Jonathan Martin chomping at the bit to get his shot as the starting left tackle, it's hard to see the 'Phins coughing up the cash to bring back a deteriorating Long.
Expect Richie Incognito, coming off his first ever Pro Bowl nod, and the always reliable Mike Pouncey to be staples on the line next season.
That being said, the Dolphins will still be in the market for some additional offensive lineman to solidify their first line of defense protecting franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Is Lamar Miller the Future in the Backfield?
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Reggie Bush certainly surprised some people with his level of play over the past two seasons in Miami.
As Bush now gets ready to test the free-agent waters, the Dolphins will have to decide if they want to reel him back in for another few years as their feature back.
If the 'Phins do decide to let Bush walk, then their only real option in the backfield is an obvious one—Lamar Miller.
Daniel Thomas has yet to do anything that would warrant him earning a chance as the Dolphins main back, and frankly, I wouldn't mind watching him pack his bags and hit the road.
On the other hand, Miller, the second-year back from The U, looked rather impressive in his limited number of touches during his rookie campaign.
Miller has shown us glimpses of his untapped potential with quick bursts of speed and excellent lateral movement, but will the front office give him the opportunity to shine as their go-to guy in 2013?
Who Can Fill the Void as the Dolphins' Top Receiver?
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Brian Hartline may have had the first 1,000-yard season of his career, but he also struggled to find the end zone with just one TD on the year.
Davone Bess was an adequate target out of the slot, but he is not and never will be a top receiver in the NFL.
As for the draft, it seems as though this year's pool is lacking a standout, must-have wide receiver on the big board.
Does that mean that one of these big-name free agents is bound to take his talents to South Beach in 2013?
As a fan, I certainly hope so.