January 15, 2024

Missouri’s Kansas City Immediately after finishing first in the postseason, the Miami Dolphins begin exit interviews and offseason preparation.


It happens that quickly when an NFL club gets eliminated from the playoffs, like the Dolphins did Saturday night, losing, 26-7, to the Chiefs in an AFC wild-card round game in below-0-degree cold in Kansas City.


Miami had a thrilling and enjoyable season, but despite all the impressive numbers and lavish touchdown celebrations, the club was unable to win a postseason game. Since 2000, the franchise has been without one. With five weeks left in the regular season and a three-game lead in the AFC East, it was not even awarded a home playoff game with a division title.


It’s true that injuries toward the end of the season had a role, but it’s still really disheartening that a team with this much quality on it finished in the first round. The Dolphins must make a number of decisions in the offseason. Take a peek at them:



One year after taking the league lead in quarterback rating, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led the NFL in passing yards in 2023. Seems like a person who will easily win a significant contract extension, don’t you think? For the first time in his professional career, he even maintained his health for the entire season. Not so quickly.


Tagovailoa has largely fulfilled his expectations, but there are still doubts about his capacity for winning close games, his resilience to pressure from opposing defenders, his ability to play in bad weather, and his ability to function when one of his top two wide outs is out of the lineup. Due to the Dolphins exercising his fifth-year option in the offseason, Tagovailoa is signed for the upcoming campaign for a little less than $23.2 million.


The Dolphins front office and general manager Chris Grier will need to decide whether what he has demonstrated is worthy of a new contract. They most likely wouldn’t want to place him among the highest paid quarterbacks, such as Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow, and Lamar Jackson, whose average yearly compensation exceeds $50 million. Miami should consider making him an offer in the lower 40s and letting Tagovailoa choose whether or not to accept it. Play out the fifth year of his contract to see whether it changes the Dolphins’ mind, or if he doesn’t and they’re still not ready to commit to anything long-term.


The Dolphins have the option to franchise tag him at that point if the choice is still up in the air, so they can keep taking it year to year.

The Free Agency of Christian Wilkins Speaking of fifth-year options, the Dolphins’ outstanding defensive tackle just wrapped up his play on one, and for the most part, he produced another excellent season.

Wilkins needed to demonstrate his ability to produce an interior pass rush this season. He missed some of training camp owing to his contract, but he later turned his attention to the season. In doing so, he doubled his previous high of nine sacks and hit a quarterback 23 times.

He lost part of his production from every-down tackles as a result. From 98 tackles in 2022 and 89 in 2021, he dropped down to 65 tackles. He’s a close friend and fierce partner with Zach Sieler, who already received his extension.

Wilkins has expressed his desire to remain a Dolphin. Even though he doesn’t yet have a Pro Bowl on his record, he probably expects to be paid among the top in the NFL at the position. Regarding the negotiations between Wilkins and Tagovailoa, bear the following in mind: In 2024, Miami is expected to exceed the threshold by almost $40 million.

However, that number can be changed through trades, salary reductions, and contract reorganization to provide room for the team’s top priorities.


No, Mike McDaniel, the coach, is not under fire for how this season ended. He is undoubtedly safe until the 2024 season, but if issues continue and he is unable to guide this team to playoff success and real contention, then there may be cause for concern. McDaniel needs to be honest with himself about a lot of things.

Frequently chastised for his play-calling, should he relinquish those responsibilities in order to concentrate on managing the entire team and assign play-calls to offensive coordinator Frank Smith? By the way, Smith has been asked to come in for an interview to be the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Should he succeed in landing that position or any other of the league’s numerous openings, does Darrell Bevell, the quarterbacks coach, take over as offensive coordinator right away? Bevell should once again spark interest in the league for a position like that because of his wealth of expertise in that capacity.

Coaching changes occur constantly. Does McDaniel decide to part ways with Danny Crossman, the coordinator of special teams? In Miami’s final two regular-season losses to the Ravens and Bills, kick and punt returns proved costly, forcing the team to play on the road in the opening round of the playoffs. However, McDaniel stood by Crossman after the Dolphins’ difficult season with his unit last offseason. There may be other minor position coaching actions.

Anthony Campanile, the linebackers coach, may apply for a position as a defensive coordinator. McDaniel ought to investigate his system for replay review as well. After winning a challenge on Saturday night, his record as a head coach in just two seasons is just 3 of 13.



In addition to Wilkins, the Dolphins also have a number of other important free agents, including safety DeShon Elliott, nose tackle Raekwon Davis, outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, center Connor Williams, and right guard Robert Hunt. Williams, a center for Miami, had excelled in his two seasons there, but in early December, he suffered an ACL tear. During his four-year career, Hunt experienced his first injury—a hamstring. With Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead aging and right tackle Austin Jackson committed into an agreement, the two, if healthy, may be mainstays on the offensive line’s long-term outlook. Due to a foot injury, Van Ginkel’s season ended early, but he was useful as a late-season stand-in for Jaelan Phillips. The extent to which his injury impacts his contract status is unknown. In addition to unrestricted free agents, 2021 first-round selections Jaylen Waddle and Phillips will have their fifth-year option contracts for the 2025 campaign up for decision. Waddle appears to be a logical choice. A ruptured Achilles may keep Phillips out of training camp and the beginning of the following season, complicating his situation from what would have been a home run halfway through this season. Not all will be reinstated given the current salary cap scenario, particularly if Wilkins or Tagovailoa receive compensation. Miami might look elsewhere for more affordable solutions.



The Dolphins will own a first-round selection for the first time in their last three offseasons. That is, if they don’t deal it before the draft in late April. Miami has to make this choice.


They haven’t played much defense with their first two draft selections, 2023’s second-round cornerback Cam Smith and 2022’s third-round linebacker Channing Tindall. With so many high-priced contracts in place, the Dolphins must be able to replace voids with talented players on rookie deals in order to remain competitive after it becomes impractical to sign more expensive free agents. Grier typically selects the best player available in the draft, but a tight end with versatility may be a valuable addition.

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