New faces: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Josh Rosen, TE Dwayne Allen, DT Christian Wilkins, CB Eric Rowe, OG Chris Reed, C Michael Deiter
They’re gone: QB Ryan Tannehill, OT Ja’Wuan James, DE Cameron Wake, DE Robert Quinn, S T.J. McDonald, DT Akeem Spence, OG Josh Sitton, RB Frank Gore, WR Danny Amendola, C Travis Swanson
2019 snapshot: Miami made major changes while touting the importance of culture, but this offseason was even more extreme in that regard, with a complete reset.
GM Chris Grier gained full control of personnel with Mike Tannenbaum gone and brought in head coach Brian Flores, who will run the defense while fellow former Patriot Chad O’Shea coordinates the offense. Jim Caldwell was hired as assistant head coach/quarterbacks, but will instead be a consultant after a leave of absence for medical reasons.
The offense will also have a new leader for the first time since 2012, as Tannehill was dealt, and Fitzpatrick (two years, $11 million) and Rosen (acquired for second- and fifth-round picks) were brought in. The trade for Rosen is a home run any way you look at it: The Dolphins owe just $6.3 million over three years for the opportunity to see if a top-10 prospect (who was better than his numbers in Arizona) is their long-term answer at QB. If he isn’t, he still brings value as a backup.
Even if Flores goes with Fitzpatrick to begin the season, Rosen will start sooner than later. However, the team’s evaluation of him could be muddied by a woefully undermanned offensive line that struggled throughout the preseason. Free agent signee Jordan Mills didn’t make it out of camp, and the interior has major concerns even with Deiter (third round) penciled in to start right away.
Get to know… RB Kalen Ballage
An uber gifted 2018 fourth-round pick, Ballage had just 36 carries as a rookie, but he took one 75 yards to the house. Having drawn rave reviews through camp and preseason, Ballage could be in line for lead-dog duties ahead of Kenyan Drake.
Worth the investment?
–The Dolphins have the NFL-low over/under win total (4.5), and their tanking intentions have been widely reported. But Fitzpatrick could get hot and win a few games, and Rosen will be quite motivated, making the over a reasonable play.
–For longshot fans out there, how about Miami at +1600 to win the AFC East? Stranger things have happened, like when the 2008 Dolphins — coming off a 1-15 season — claimed the only non-Patriots division title since 2003 despite preseason odds of +4000.
Bottom line: It’s possible that Rosen blossoms and raises the ceiling, but the teardown everywhere else provides little support. Odds are, there won’t be many wins in 2019, which might be Miami’s preference, anyway.