Miami Dolphins training camp opens next week, and the expectations are as high as they’ve been in these parts in more than a decade.
That excitement is warranted. The Dolphins have a loaded roster and a top-tier coaching staff. That puts them in win-now mode.
Their window of opportunity with this nucleus is probably two years. Their 2025 projected roster and cap construction is concerning, and they have big questions between now and then regarding Tua Tagovailoa, Christian Wilkins, and Jevon Holland.
So this is not the time for half-measures. Every move they make from now until the trade deadline on Halloween should be designed to win their first Lombardi Trophy in five decades.
3 Final Moves for the Miami Dolphins
Sign Dalvin Cook
We haven’t quite reached the point where Dalvin Cook has to decide where to sign. But we’re getting close.
The fever dream of Cook and DeAndre Hopkins signing with the same team turned out to be nothing but that. Cook isn’t going to the Titans unless Tennessee moves Derrick Henry, which is highly unlikely.
Cook still presumably wants to get paid, and the list of teams he’d reportedly consider is long.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter hinted on “Get Up” Monday that the Patriots might use the money they saved by not signing Hopkins on Cook, which brings the total of AFC East teams with some interest in the ex-Vikings running back to three. (The Dolphins and Jets are the others.)
Cook’s best bet to maximize his earning potential is to wait for a training camp injury. But even then, it’s hard to see him getting more than $5 million in 2023 (not including incentives).
The Dolphins could afford that, particularly if they move on from one of their other veteran backs upon signing Cook. (Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed are the two most obvious candidates, and neither would have more than a third of a million dollars in dead money.)
A Dolphins offense that features Tua, Cook, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson would be ridiculous.
Add Linebacker Help
It’s been more than a month since Vic Fangio dropped this nugget on the state of his defense:
“We have some really good talent at some places. In other places, we’ve got to find the talent. I think it’s a good mix right now. Our good players have got to play really good for us to be good, and we’ve got to find the other guys to fill in that play good in spite of their lack of playing time and experience.”
Fangio didn’t reveal which places needed more talent, but it isn’t hard to guess.
The Dolphins are loaded at interior defensive line, EDGE, cornerbacks, and safety.
They have some remaining questions at linebacker.
Beyond Jerome Baker and David Long (who didn’t practice during minicamp), there’s not a ton. The Dolphins are so thin at that position that they gave Andrew Van Ginkel significant looks on the inside in the spring.
Expect the Dolphins to add bodies at that spot, either via free agency, the waiver wire, or trades.
Veterans still on the market include Anthony Barr, Jaylon Smith, Rashaan Evans, Kwon Alexander, and Zach Cunningham.
Keep Tabs on the Backup QB Market
The Dolphins’ biggest storyline since September of last year has been Tagovailoa’s health. He has missed time to injury in each of his last four seasons (dating back to his time at Alabama).
So it was a bit of a surprise that they’re comfortable rolling with Mike White and Skylar Thompson as their two options for QB2.
But they’re not without options if both of those reserves struggle during camp and the preseason.
There are a couple of serviceable options still on the market — most notably Teddy Bridgewater and Carson Wentz.
Odds are, either White or Thompson will perform well enough over the next six weeks that Mike McDaniel will be comfortable going into the season with the current group.
But if not, don’t be surprised if reinforcements are added.
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