As the halfway point of the season approaches, the Miami Dolphins find themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff picture. In fact, at this point they’re in the playoffs as a wild card team.
However, injuries could change things in a hurry as the Dolphins learned during their recent three-game losing streak.
The trade deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday and there are questions whether the Dolphins will be buyers, sellers, or observers.
The Dolphins could use help in the secondary and on the offensive line, and either could be obtained through a trade. And as they’re looking, perhaps someone calls the Dolphins about acquiring tight end Mike Gesicki or quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Coach Mike McDaniel said he’s talked to players whose names are in trade rumors.
“The reason why there’s a head coach and a general manager is because that’s how much is going on,” McDaniel said. “The head coach has to worry about the football, and the general manager is talking to other teams incessantly about how to make the roster the very best from a business standpoint. And it’s misleading when people’s names are out there because there’s a lot of discussions about stuff.”
While it seems the Dolphins would be more likely to acquire a player than send a player to another team, you could also argue the Dolphins think the answers to their problems are on their roster or could be found in free agency.
The Dolphins have seven draft picks in 2023 among one in the first round (the one obtained from San Francisco in 2021; they lost their own in the tampering case), one in the second round, two in the third round (it obtained one from New England in the DeVante Parker trade), and one each in the fifth through seventh rounds.
Perhaps Washington Commanders cornerbacks William Jackson, an expensive option considering he’s in the second year of a three-year, $42 million deal, or Kendall Fuller have some appeal. The Dolphins lost Nik Needham (Achilles) for the season and Byron Jones (Achilles) hasn’t yet played after having surgery in March. But this is an area where the Dolphins seem to be comfortable finding help on the roster.
Last week it was special teams ace/cornerback Justin Bethel that excelled at the “next man up” thing. He had an interception in the first quarter of the Dolphins’ 16-10 victory over Pittsburgh while filling in at nickel/slot cornerback. Fellow cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, who has also answered the call as an injury replacement, had a game-sealing interception in the fourth quarter. Before that, it was undrafted rookie Kader Kohou and another special teams ace, Keion Crossen, who did good work.
Elsewhere in the secondary, perhaps Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson, a product of Boyd Anderson High School, could be brought home via trade. Last week the Dolphins lost safety Brandon Jones (knee) for the season.
But this is another area where the Dolphins found answers on their roster, at least for the remainder of the Steelers game, with guys such as special teams ace Clayton Fejedelem and undrafted rookie Verone McKinley.
New England right tackle Isaiah Wynn, who is usually a left tackle and currently believed to be in the doghouse, has been rumored as a player possibly available to others, but don’t count on an in-season trade between the Dolphins and Patriots, who are AFC East rivals.
Plus, veteran right tackle Brandon Shell might solidify the job for the short-term as the Dolphins await Austin Jackson’s return from an ankle injury. And if Jackson doesn’t return soon, perhaps the Dolphins feel good about staying with Shell.
On the interior offensive line, left guard Liam Eichenberg has struggled but he had one of his best games of the season last week when left tackle Terron Armstead returned from a one-game absence due to a toe injury. Eichenberg might be OK if Armstead is there, but Armstead has missed an average of 5.5 games per season for the previous five seasons. Regardless, it appears the Dolphins want to give Eichenberg, a 2021 second-round pick who is transitioning to guard from tackle, at least one more season.
As for Gesicki or Bridgewater departing, they both fill valuable roles. Gesicki is playing on a $10.9 million franchise player tag, but headed for career lows in receptions and receiving yards. He doesn’t seem to fit the offense but on the other hand he could play a role for the Dolphins for the remainder of the season considering the offense is struggling to put up points consistently.
Bridgewater is the backup to starter Tua Tagovailoa but the Dolphins seem to like rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson, the seventh-round pick from Kansas State, so they might listen intently if they get calls on Bridgewater.
No one knows whether the Dolphins will make a trade deadline move, but they’ll be watching and listening.