Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
1. Building Blocks
A disappointing year by the Dolphins left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, but Miami has arguably the strongest core of players among these six teams. Defenders Ndamukong Suh and Reshad Jones are elite players at valuable positions. Defensive end Cam Wake is hurt now but expressed his desire to return in 2016.
On offense, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been average at worst despite a horrible offensive line and coaching staff. He's joined by an elite running back in Lamar Miller and promising receivers Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker. There's a lot of young talent on offense, especially.
Wake and Miller need their contracts addressed for next year, but each can be retained if a new coach wishes. If Miller is allowed to walk in free agency, Miami has Jay Ajayi ready to go. There is a stable of talent that needs better direction and coaching than what it's received.
2. Roster Flexibility
The Dolphins are projected to be over the cap, but many underachieving veterans can be released. Miami can further open space by restructuring Suh's deal, although that isn't necessary. As much as $40 million could be freed up by trimming the fat on the roster.
The Dolphins have a young core, so free agency shouldn't be the focus right now. Adding cheap talent at key positions is the best approach.
South Beach and no state taxes are two excellent selling points to make to any coach or player. From a quality-of-life standpoint, Miami offers a unique experience many people would likely enjoy, especially this time of year. While this is more of an ancillary reason to take a job, it could be a factor for players the coach would bring in.
While Stephen Ross has really goofed up past coaching searches, he has spent money to support his team. Ross shouldn't be considered a net positive for the Dolphins, but his willingness to make big-money deals with Suh ($114 million), Tannehill ($77 million in new money), Branden Albert ($47 million) and Mike Pouncey ($44 million) shows commitment. Resources will not be not spared under Ross.
1. Power Structure
The negative of Ross is that he has created a convoluted power structure in Miami. The franchise still has strong Bill Parcells ties, and the move to make Mike Tannenbaum the new czar may turn some candidates off. It's possible everyone will report to Tannenbaum, and then he will make the final decision.
This plan may end up becoming a positive, as the structure itself has been successful elsewhere. But trusting this group of individuals right now could be difficult. High-caliber coaches may steer away from such an arrangement.
2. Roster Depth
The Dolphins haven't drafted well in a long time, and it showed as they fell to 6-10. They couldn't withstand injuries without imploding, and even before that, they weren't very good. Only a few young players flashed any potential in 2015.
A new coach may need to cycle through a lot of talent upon arrival—like Pete Carroll did in Seattle. Miami's offense has a lot of young pieces, but the defense needs impact talent and an injection of youth. Will the new boss be afforded that opportunity?
The Dolphins thought they'd be in the playoffs this season, and the fact they missed the mark may not have changed ownership's expectations. Head coaching candidates must find out if Ross and Tannenbaum are expecting short-term results with a roster that might be two years away from competing.
While Miami was patient with Joe Philbin and gave him three-plus years, it also fired him just four games into 2015. Candidates won't want that kind of embarrassment on their record.