It is easy to conclude that an NFL team is broken, and that the roster needs fixing, or enhancements.
But it is annually a challenge to find the right pieces that can transform a .500 squad like the 2013 Miami Dolphins into a playoff contender in one offseason.
That’s the mission the Dolphins have been on since 2008, and this offseason Dennis Hickey, the franchise’s newly hired general manager, takes over as the man responsible for overhauling Joe Philbin’s team.
Here’s the Sun-Sentinel’s offensive breakdown of what Hickey inherits before free agency opens in March, and the 2014 NFL draft, which will take place in May this year.
Free agent: Pat Devlin (restricted)
Breakdown: Tannehill, a 2012 first-round pick, is entering his third season as the Dolphins’ projected starter. The hope is he'll show, and do more than he did in 2013, where he produced a 81.7 passer rating (ranked 24th in the NFL) and led Miami to a 8-8 record. Moore is one of the NFL's more polished backups, but he's entering the final season of a two-year deal that paid him $8 million. Moore is owed $4 million in base salary and has a cap hit of $5.5 million. That means moving him to an interested team could be beneficial if Philbin and his staff aren’t married to Moore. Devlin has spent the past two years on the 53-man roster, and the last three with the organization. But Devlin, a former Delaware standout, hasn't proven he truly belongs on an NFL roster yet, and the Dolphins would benefit from finding a youngster with more upside.
Breakdown: Miller and Thomas led the Dolphins' backfield last season, combining for 1,115 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 286 carries. But neither of them showed the nation anything special in 2013, especially when it came to pass protection, and short yardage runs. The Dolphins need to add a more physical runner to balance out this unit, especially since Thomas is entering the final season of his rookie deal. Gillislee, a University of Florida product, didn’t show much his rookie season, but could blossom with more opportunity. The Dolphins could also use a proven fullback to serve as a lead blocker.
Backups: Rishard Matthews, Ryan Spadola (practice squad last year)
Breakdown: Wallace and Hartline had productive seasons as Miami's starters. Before suffering a knee injury in the season finale Hartline became the fifth Dolphins receiver to produce back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, and Wallace was 70 yards shy of his third 1,000-yard season. His 73 catches was a career high in his five seasons. Gibson and Matthews blossomed as the Dolphins’ slot receivers, collectively contributing 774 yards and five touchdowns on 71 receptions. However, there is some concern that three of the Dolphins’ seven receivers - Hartline, Gibson and Binns - are rehabbing a knee injuries that prematurely ended their 2013 season. Will they all be healthy enough to compete during training camp?
Free agent: Dustin Keller (knee injury)
Breakdown: Clay blossomed into one of the NFL's more productive tight ends, catching 69 passes for 759 yards and scoring seven touchdowns in 2013 once he was elevated into the starting role because of the season-ending knee injury Keller suffered in the preseason. Clay is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and replicating last year’s performance could be financially rewarding. Keller's still rehabbing, and will likely seek an opportunity to remain a starter moving forward. At this point Keller isn’t expected to return. Sims was adequate as a blocking tight end in his rookie season, but more development is needed. The same goes for Egnew, who was used as a fullback/H-back some late in the season.
Breakdown: Dolphins owner Steve Ross openly admits he doesn’t expect Incognito or Martin to ever play for his team again. Incognito is a free agent, but Martin is under contract for the next two seasons, which means he’ll either be traded or released. There are only three offensive linemen presently expected to return - Pouncey, Garner and Brenner - who have starting experience. And truth is Garner and Brenner should only be viewed as stopgap options because they have only started a handful of games. The Dolphins need to find a pair of new starting tackles, and new starting guards, and preferably players who fit the athletic mold needed for the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins have struggled utilizing effectively the past two years. Three starters from 2013 - McKinnie, Jerry and Clabo - are free agents. But their return isn’t certain considering the Dolphins hope to upgrade last year's O-line, which allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks. Yeatman suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the season and might not be ready for training camp.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun