Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has the big numbers. He threw for 4,045 yards, 27 touchdowns and a 92.8 passer rating in 2014 -- all career highs.

Tannehill has the confidence of power players in the Dolphins' organization. Vice president Mike Tannenbaum, general manager Dennis Hickey and head coach Joe Philbin all endorsed Tannehill this offseason as Miami's long-term solution.

Tannehill also is expected to get a sizable raise. It can come in the form of a fifth-year extension worth approximately $15 million in 2016 or a multi-year extension that could approach $100 million or more.

But the true next step for Tannehill doesn’t involve money, recognition in Miami, or filling up the stat sheet. For Tannehill to truly evolve into a franchise quarterback, he must win more games for the Dolphins.

Here is an important stat to remember for Tannehill: He is just 23-25 as a starter.

Tannehill has never had a winning season in Miami and has yet to lead the Dolphins to the playoffs. His .479 career winning percentage is worse than quarterback counterparts Jay Cutler (.512), Andy Dalton (.625) and Colin Kaepernick (.641). These are all players that Tannehill will be compared to when working out a long-term contract.

A quarterback’s career ultimately will be determined by wins and losses. Tannehill made strides and proved last season that he can put up good numbers. But he won the same amount of games than he won in 2013.

Of course, not every win or loss can be pinned on the quarterback. There are a variety of reasons teams lose games. However, a quarterback has more impact on the field than any other player because he touches the ball on almost every offensive snap. Tannehill is going to get a bulk of the blame or the credit.

Tannehill must win enough games in his fourth season to get the Dolphins over the hump and into the playoffs. Quarterbacks build their reputation in the postseason, which is currently a major void on Tannehill’s resume.

The Miami Dolphins are scheduled to host former Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jake Ryan for a pre-draft visit on April 2, a source told ESPN.com.

Ryan led the Wolverines with 112 tackles and also recorded two sacks and an interception last season. According to ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., Ryan is this year's fifth-rated inside linebacker.

The Dolphins lost three linebackers this offseason and need to add depth at the position. They traded Dannell Ellerbe to the New Orleans Saints, cut Philip Wheeler and allowed Jason Trusnik to test free agency. Miami also was 24th against the run last season.

Each NFL team gets a maximum of 30 pre-draft visits.

ESPN Insider has an interesting piece grading every NFL team’s moves during free agency.

Obviously, the Miami Dolphins have been one of the most active teams this offseason. New vice president Mike Tannenbaum has come in and made a significant splash in signing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a $114-million contract. It was the biggest contract in NFL history given to a defensive player.

Here are the list of key additions and subtractions that earned a “B” grade:

Key re-signings/additions: TE Jordan Cameron, TE Ryan Taylor, DT Ndamukong Suh, CB Brice McCain, WR Kenny Stills, C J.D. Walton

Key subtractions: WR Brandon Gibson, WR Brian Hartline, TE Charles Clay, CB Cortland Finnegan, RB Daniel Thomas, G Daryn Colledge, DE Derrick Shelby, DT Jared Odrick, OT Jason Fox, OLB Jason Trusnik, SS Jimmy Wilson, OLB Jonathan Freeny, RB Knowshon Moreno, G Nate Garner, LB Philip Wheeler, CB R.J. Stanford, DT Randy Starks, C Samson Satele, G Shelley Smith, WR Mike Wallace, LB Dannell Ellerbe

As you can see, there are significantly more subtractions than additions at this point. The Dolphins, after going 8-8 the past two seasons, felt changes needed to be made with personnel in order to get over the hump and end the team’s six-year playoff drought.

The Suh signing alone makes this class impactful. Suh is a game-changer who will provide toughness and an identity to Miami’s defense. Secondary acquisitions such as Stills and Cameron, if healthy, also should be significant contributors this season.

But Miami’s work isn’t done. The team still has holes at guard, wide receiver and linebacker. The Dolphins have six selections in next month’s NFL draft and will look to improve those weaknesses.

Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Friday from around the Web:

  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel writes Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey wants to acquire more picks in the draft.

Morning take: Miami traded two of its picks already and gained one. The Dolphins have six selections total, including just two in the first three rounds.

  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald writes the Dolphins are in the market for a speedy receiver.

Morning take: Replacing Mike Wallace’s elite speed will be a challenge. Kenny Stills is fast, but the Dolphins need more.

Morning take: Martin garnered the Dolphins a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft, which was later traded to the Minnesota Vikings. Martin is working on finding his third team in three seasons.

Morning take: Shelby has provided quality backup reps for the Dolphins’ defensive line. He will do so again in Miami in 2015.

How bad do the Miami Dolphins want to catch the reigning Super Bowl and AFC East champion New England Patriots? That answer can be found in the amount of money Miami already has invested this offseason.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Dolphins have spent $77.5 million in guaranteed money so far this offseason, which is the third-highest total in the NFL. In fact, three AFC East teams round out the top four. The Buffalo Bills lead all NFL teams in guaranteed money spent at $91.5 million.

Miami’s number is inflated by the acquisition of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who signed a $114 million contract. In terms of guaranteed money, $60 million of Miami’s $77.5 million went to one player.

Nevertheless, the Dolphins are showing that this is a playoff-or-bust year. They are spending big to try to close the gap with New England. If Miami has another non-winning season, there most likely will be consequences.

The offseason is in full swing with the Miami Dolphins and the NFL draft is just around the corner.

Let's open the Twitter mailbag and see what's on the minds of Dolphins fans.

James Walker: The Dolphins will be in a good spot if both dynamicplayers are available. This may even provide an quality opportunity to trade down if Miami believes both prospects fit their system and would be happy with either. But considering the Dolphins needs, DeVante Parker is the better fit. Miami already has a 1,000-yard rusher from last season in Lamar Miller, and there are still very good tailback prospects in the second and third rounds this year. However, the Dolphins do not have a potential No. 1 receiver currently on the roster. Parker could be that player if he stays healthy and lives up to his potential. Parker and Todd Gurley are both prospects whose games should translate well at the next level. Both were injured last season, but Gurley's injury concerns are bigger, especially as a potential No. 14 overall pick.

Walker: Tannehill will get new money in his contract this offseason -- the Dolphins have made that clear. The only question is whether it will be a fifth-year option or a new multi-year extension that could be $100 million or more. Miami could become the first team in NFL history to have two $100 million players on the same roster. The Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh to a $114 million contract earlier this month. If they also lock up Tannehill for $100 million or more, the Dolphins will have little margin for error for the next few years with making draft picks and signing other free agents. Tannehill is not an elite quarterback, but the going rate for his production at that position is costly. Financially, it could make more sense to pick up the 2016 option for $15 million and have Tannehill under center for about $17 million over the next two seasons. But that comes at the risk not making your quarterback happy. We will see how this plays out.

Walker: Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was adamant this week that Dion Jordan will be a defensive end in 2015. I haven't seen Jordan do enough at outside linebacker in practice or games to know if he's capable of helping Miami there. But I think it's a mistake by Miami's coaching staff not to at least experiment during the offseason, when there is plenty of time. Philbin and his staff can get stuck in their ways about certain things. It appears, for the third straight year, Miami's coaches refuse to be open-minded about a position change with Jordan in order to get him on the field more.

Thanks for the good questions, Dolphins fans. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, reach me via Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL.

Ten highest-paid Dolphins in 2015

March, 26, 2015
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The Miami Dolphins are in the process of a significant makeover this offseason.

Gone are key veterans such as cornerback Cortland Finnegan, defensive tackle Randy Starks, linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe and receivers Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. Joining the team are new acquisitions such as Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, tight end Jordan Cameron and receiver Kenny Stills.

Miami's roster structure has changed a lot over the past few weeks. Courtesy of ESPN's Stats & Information, here are the 10 highest-paid Dolphins in 2015 in terms of salary and bonus money:

Noticeably missing from this list is starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He remains in the fourth year of his rookie contract, which pays a bargain rate of $2.12 million for Tannehill's position and production. Tannehill, who threw for 4,045 yards and 27 touchdowns last season, is expected to get a raise soon in the form of an extension or fifth-year option.

Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Thursday from around the Web:

  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes Dolphins coach Joe Philbin can no longer be “average Joe.”

Morning take: Another 8-8 season is not good enough for Philbin. He has playoff-caliber talent, and it is up to Philbin and his staff to get the most from his roster this year.

  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel writes the Dolphins targeted Kenny Stills as an ideal receiver for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Morning take: Stills has a lot of skills that fit Miami’s offense. But the Dolphins must continue getting help around Tannehill in order for him to be successful.

  • Alain Poupart of the Dolphins team site writes Philbin is excited about Tannehill's development.

Morning take: Tannehill is coming off a career year, but what is the next step? Stats aside, Tannehill must win more games. He’s just 23-25 as a starter.

  • Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post writes backup quarterback Matt Moore believes the grass is green enough in Miami.

Morning take: Moore had other opportunities but chose to stay with the Dolphins for another year. He wants to compete for a starting job but wasn't able to find a better fit outside Miami.

The offseason is in full swing with the Miami Dolphins. They have made a lot of changes on their roster, which has led to questions.

Let’s open the Twitter mailbag and see what’s on the minds of Dolphins fans.

James Walker: Many would argue cornerback, but I disagree. My take is Miami should coach up the two young corners they have in Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, and hope that one develops into a starter. They know the playbook and the system, and the Dolphins would be better off using their top remaining resource (a first-round pick) on another position where they don't have as many options. Wide receiver is the biggest need after Miami traded or released three of last year's top four receivers. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson are all gone. The Dolphins added Kenny Stills, but he can't replace all that lost production alone. Miami needs more targets for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins showed interest in Michael Crabtree but things remain in the flirtation stage. This is a strong draft for wide receivers and Miami has a chance to land one early in the draft.


Walker: The question is relative to the amount of resources the Dolphins spend on the position. For example, should the Dolphins use a first-round pick on a receiver (DeVante Parker? Amari Cooper?) and sign Crabtree or Greg Jennings to a multi-year contract worth $25 million or more? Absolutely not. But if a quality veteran is willing to sign a team-friendly deal and the Dolphins spend a first- or second-round pick on a receiver to double up, that would be a wiser approach. I don't expect Miami to overpay for a veteran, especially with the quality receivers available in the draft.

Walker: Yes. Everything new Dolphins vice president Mike Tannanbaum has said since his hire is in support ofTannehill. Keep in mind, Tannenbaum put his New York Jets' tenure on the line for quarterback Mark Sanchez. So he has to be feeling optimistic about his chances with Tannehill, who is a better player. Tannehill should get paid this offseason, either via a fifth-year option or contract extension.

Thanks for the good questions, Dolphins fans. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to reach me via Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL.

Houston Texans Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt became the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL last year when he signed a six-year, $100 million contract. Earlier this month, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh surpassed Watt with a six-year, $114 million contract with the Miami Dolphins.

Why is this relevant?

Well, this week Watt restructured just one year into his record-setting agreement. According to ESPN's Field Yates, Watt converted a $10 million roster bonus into a signing bonus to free up $8 million of cap room for Houston.

The move might be a prelude of what's coming down the pike with Suh's monster contract with Miami in the coming years. Suh is projected to have very high cap numbers of $28,600,000 in 2016, $15,100,000 in 2017 and $22,100,000 in both 2018 and 2019.

Similar to Houston's situation with Watt, Miami may need to restructure Suh's cap figures in order to create the necessary space it takes sign other good players and be competitive. The Texans had to do it with Watt after one year. Therefore, it won't be shocking if the Dolphins have to do the same with Suh in 2016 or beyond.

The difference between the two situations is Watt's money went from one type of bonus to another. Much of Suh's money after this year is in base salaries, which also can be moved into bonuses that Suh would get upfront.

All of this doesn't mean much for the Dolphins today. But Watt’s restructuring certainly provides a potential blueprint that Miami may need to follow with Suh in the future.

Dolphins' receiving corps still taking shape

March, 25, 2015
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ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker says that despite the acquisition of Kenny Stills, Miami needs to explore all of its options to fill the void created when No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace was traded.

Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Wednesday from around the Web:

  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post reports the Dolphins may wait until after the draft to sign a veteran receiver.

Morning take: Miami could fill the position early in the draft. So it makes sense not to commit and spend big money at this point.

Morning take: This is good news for Miami, which desperately needs its starting left tackle. Albert still has a long road ahead but the progress has been good.

  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel writes the Dolphins, for now, plan to keep linebacker Koa Misi at middle linebacker.

Morning take: Misi had mixed results with the position switch last season. If the Dolphins can’t find an upgrade in the draft, Misi must hold the position for another year.

Morning take: Miami was in discussions with New Orleans, and those talks landed receiver Kenny Stills. Graham has a big contract and it would have been interesting to see how the Dolphins would try to make it work.

2015 draft picks: Miami Dolphins

March, 25, 2015
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The Miami Dolphins have six selections in the 2015 NFL draft, which will be held April 30 to May 2 in Chicago.

Here's a breakdown of the Dolphins' selections:

First round: 14th overall selection

Second round: 47th overall selection

Fourth round: 114th overall selection

Fifth round: 149th overall selection

Fifth round: 150th overall selection

Sixth round: 191th overall selection

Charles Clay excited to join Bills

March, 24, 2015
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Charles Clay saw the Buffalo Bills as a team on the rise before he entered free agency.

When the Bills made the tight end one of their top free-agent priorities, Clay was eager to leave the Miami Dolphins to join a division rival.

The Bills' courtship of Clay lasted more than a week, but now that it has been completed, Clay is excited to be part of Buffalo's revamped offense.

"When you look at the organization as a whole, new owners, new coaching staff, a lot of moves made this offseason, I was kind of intrigued by it before I even took my visit," Clay said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters in Buffalo.

"I got the sense that they were a team on the rise."

The Bills made Clay one of their top free-agent targets. He traveled by private jet to Buffalo on March 10, the first day of the league's signing period, and spent several days in the area before signing a five-year, $38 million contract March 17.

The Dolphins, who had placed the transition tag on Clay, decided Thursday not to match the offer.

"I wanted to sign right away," Clay said. "At the end of the day, it worked out just how I wanted."

Clay started 47 games in four years with Miami after being taken in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. He had 58 catches last season for 605 yards and three scores despite knee trouble that hampered him all season.

The Bills' hiring of former New York Jets coach Rex Ryan helped in their pursuit of Clay.

"I played against a Rex Ryan defense for the past four years. I know how tough it is to play against this defense," Clay said.


(Read full post)


Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin addressed the media Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. Philbin touched on several topics, including one of high interest involving the Dolphins' No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan in 2013.

[+] EnlargeDion Jordan
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesDolphins coach Joe Philbin continues to stick with Dion Jordan at defensive end despite mediocre results the past two seasons.

According to Philbin, Jordan's focus will remain at defensive end this offseason. There has been speculation the Dolphins may try to play Jordan at outside linebacker after experimenting with the idea at the end of last season. It appears those ideas have been put on the shelf for now.

"Right now we feel like he's [better] utilized as a defensive end," Philbin said. "We want to get his training there to improve so he can continually develop his pass-rush ability. If we play him at linebacker and move him full-time, the dilemma is when is he going to practice rushing the passer?"

I don't agree with this thinking by Miami. The offseason is the perfect time to experiment and get Jordan reps at outside linebacker, which is a position that's currently wide open on the depth chart. There also are schemes where Jordan still would get to rush the passer as a linebacker.

The Dolphins have tried Jordan at defensive end for two seasons without success. It's difficult to get Jordan any meaningful playing time before making way for Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake and solid starter Olivier Vernon. Also, Jordan has done little with his opportunities at the position, recording just three sacks in two seasons.

Miami traded up nine spots in the first round to snag Jordan two years ago. He was expected to be a dynamic pass-rush threat and a starting defensive end by now. Instead, Jordan is a player who looks lost and confused so far. Jordan also didn't help himself by being suspended six games last year for violating the NFL's substance abuse and performance-enhancing drug policies.

Keeping Jordan at defensive end ensures he will be a limited role player for the third straight season, and that is not acceptable for a player the Dolphins traded up nine spots in the first round to get in 2013.

Miami's coaching staff is big on "position flexibility" with many of their players during Philbin's tenure, which makes this close-minded call with Jordan all that more baffling.

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