Moves Miami Dolphins Will Regret Not Making This Offseason
Over the course of the offseason, the Miami Dolphins have done a solid job of filling in most of the team's holes while also upgrading a few key positions as well.
General manager Dennis Hickey has signed Louis Delmas, Branden Albert, Earl Mitchell, Shelley Smith, Cortland Finnegan, Knowshon Moreno and Jason Fox while also bringing back Brent Grimes and Randy Starks.
Many people, including me, have examined these moves up and down over the last few weeks.
However, what about the moves that they didn't make, or the ones that they did make but shouldn't have?
Most would agree that the Dolphins have had a productive offseason, but at the same time they also could have had a better one.
Let's take a look at some of the moves the team should have made that it will end up regretting.
Getting Rid of Matt Moore
The argument for keeping Matt Moore is very simple.
He's the safety blanket behind Ryan Tannehill, and in a worst-case scenario, he may be needed to come in for a few games or even possibly an entire season.
But the problem is that he is very likely the most overpaid player on the team.
According to Spotrac, Moore is scheduled to make $4 million in 2014, with his contract counting a ridiculous $5.5 million against the cap.
He's the sixth highest-paid player on the team; Miami is paying a steep price for someone whom it never even wants to see step on the field.
Even if he does get forced into action, his 11-12 career record as a starter doesn't provide the fans any confidence in his abilities to lead the team to the playoffs.
Instead of hanging onto Moore, the Dolphins could have cut him, gaining an extra $4 million in cap space that could have allowed them to bring in another player or two.
They also could have—and likely still will—put him on the open market and see what teams will offer for him in a trade.
Allowing Moore to stick around for the entire season and play out his contract would be a huge missed opportunity for the Dolphins.
Keeping Dimitri Patterson
Of all the moves the Dolphins made this offseason, the swap of Dimitri Patterson for Cortland Finnegan was definitely the strangest.
Patterson was scheduled to make $5.4 million in 2014, but the team instead decided to release him and sign Finnegan to a two-year, $11 million deal.
If this was the Finnegan of 2011, the move would have been brilliant.
However, the 30-year-old cornerback has taken a major step back since he joined the St. Louis Rams in 2012. Last season, he played in just seven games before being placed on injured reserve with a fractured orbital bone.
When he did play, he allowed quarterbacks to complete 76.5 percent of their passes thrown at him for a 136 passer rating, ranking 109th out of 110 cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Patterson, meanwhile, also struggled with injuries, only playing in six games in 2013 thanks to a nagging groin problem.
However, unlike Finnegan, he was a stud when he was able to suit up and play.
In his short time on the field, Patterson was targeted 31 times and allowed 18 catches (58 percent) for 219 yards while intercepting four passes and defending three more. He held opposing quarterbacks to just a 51.1 rating when throwing at him, according to Pro Football Focus.
Both players have injury concerns, but the Dolphins essentially paid more money to swap a known commodity for an unknown one.
It was an unnecessary risk that they will likely regret making, especially after Patterson agreed to a deal with the rival New York Jets.
Making a Stronger Push for Eugene Monroe
Signing Branden Albert to a five-year, $47 million deal to protect Ryan Tannehill's blind side is far from a mistake.
The offensive line was terrible last season and needed to be rebuilt. Bringing in Albert was a great first step to doing that.
However, the fact that Albert—and not Eugene Monroe—was the team's top priority at tackle heading into free agency is questionable.
At age 26, Monroe is nearly three years younger than Albert, has had a much better injury history and is an all-around better player.
Instead of making a major push for Monroe—who signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal with Baltimore—the Dolphins instead opted to go with Albert.
On one hand, the Dolphins were Albert's top choice as well, and he was much more of a sure thing to sign than Monroe, who was still in talks with the Ravens. The team knew Albert was ready and willing to sign, and Miami jumped at the chance instead of risking the possibility of getting nobody by waiting for Monroe.
On the other hand, the team still could have waited out the market a little longer in order to hold out for the better player.
Of course, it's possible that Albert regains his Pro Bowl form, stays healthy and solidifies Tannehill's blind side for the next five years.
But it is safe to say that Monroe would have been a much more reliable option, considering he has missed just three total games over his five-year career. Albert, meanwhile, has missed seven games in just the last two seasons.
Extending Charles Clay
I first mentioned the Dolphins' need to extend Charles Clay when discussing their remaining offseason priorities.
I'm bringing it up again because to my surprise, many people shot down the idea of giving him a long-term extension until he can prove himself for another season.
However, the problem with waiting is that this offseason is likely the last chance the team has to sign him at a discounted price. Every big game that Clay has next season will increasingly earn him more and more money.
At just 25 years old, Clay is more likely to improve and build on his 69-catch, 759-yard, six-touchdown 2013 season than he is to take a step back.
When looking at other tight end contracts, it's very likely that he would accept a deal similar to the five-year, $32 million deal that the Ravens gave Dennis Pitta. Considering Clay is coming off his first good season, it's not out of the question to offer him a contract somewhere around $30 million for six years.
If the Dolphins were to make the mistake and wait until he becomes a free agent, he could command a contract even higher than Jason Witten's five-year, $37 million deal that he signed in 2011.
It's also wise to lock up Clay before Jimmy Graham blows the tight end market wide open with the contract he is going to eventually receive.
If the Dolphins decide to wait on a Clay extension, it could cost them an extra $3-4 million per year, or even worse, he could play his way right out of Miami.
Firing the Entire Coaching Staff
Ironically, the biggest regret the Dolphins will have about the moves they made this offseason will likely be the first one they chose not to make.
Stephen Ross made the right decision in firing general manager Jeff Ireland and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, but he made the complete wrong decision in not following through the entire way.
Head coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle should have followed Ireland and Sherman out the door.
Instead, Ross once again made the mistake of not fully cleaning house. He made the same mistake in 2012 when he replaced Tony Sparano but kept Ireland.
The simple fact is that Philbin didn't do enough in 2013 to earn another season as head coach.
He was clueless as to what was happening in his locker room through the bullying scandal, and most importantly, his team didn't show up in the two most important games of the season with a playoff spot on the line.
Coyle, meanwhile, has shown a complete inability to maximize the talent of his players. The defense has progressively gotten worse with each passing year since he was hired in 2012.
For all the moves the Dolphins have made and will continue to make to improve the team, it will be a shame if they miss the playoffs once again because of the inability of the coaching staff to put the players in the best position to succeed.
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