The second part of the latest SI All Dolphins mailbag features questions (and answers) on Tua and the next step, why Jaylen Waddle is different from Ted Ginn Jr., explaining why the Dolphins aren't cutting Xavien Howard (though it's not impossible they will trade him), and more.
Here we go:
From Ben Reiss (BenReiss1):
What type of year would you need to see from Tua to convince you he is track to being a franchise QB?
For me, it's not so much about stats — particularly won-loss record, which should be only a small part of QB evaluations — but rather making some plays that really open my eyes. Sure, Tua had some highlight-reel plays in the game against Arizona, including his fake in the open field against Buddy Baker, but nothing that had me thinking, "Oh yeah, that's the one." More than anything, I want to see him throw a pass into an incredibly tight window on a few occasions. If we're talking purely statistically, I guess 3,500 yards with a 3:1 TD-INT ratio would be a good start.
From Ken Dasher (@kdash65):
What players in the crowded WR room should be feeling the most nervous aside from Jakeem Grant, who I think is the most likely to be released?
You're absolutely right about Grant, who's been made kind of obsolete because Jaylen Waddle is a great returner in addition to being a great receiver. At this time, one would think the wide receivers likely or locks to be on the roster are Waddle, Will Fuller V, DeVante Parker and Preston Williams. Lynn Bowden Jr. showed enough promise last year that I also think he's safe. And Mack Hollins and Robert Foster have value as special teams players. So if we're talking veterans, I think Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns have a right to feel nervous.
From Greg the Nurse (@BACinDemand):
Can this co-coordinators plan work?
Well, if the Dolphins didn't think so, they certainly wouldn't have gone that route. It's highly unusual, that's for sure. I'm not a fan of it personally because you know what they say about having too many cooks in the kitchen. That said, the fact that Eric Studesville and George Godsey both have been on the staff since Brian Flores arrived makes things an easier situation to navigate. And the bottom line is it will come down more to the players than the coaches.
From Gustavo Davila (@el_grangus):
Are Dolphins really considering cutting their best player, and a generational talent, XH, for budgetary reasons? Feels like a never ending story towards having a "future" top-10 team.
I can stop you right there and say the Dolphins aren't cutting Xavien Howard, period. Even if they wanted to, that move would save them a whopping $25,000 of cap space against more than $13 million of dead cap space, according to overthecap.com, and that's WITH a post-June 1 designation. So that's not happening. Now, it's a different story if the Dolphins trade Howard, particularly if it's done post-June 1. And, yes, if the Dolphins move on from Howard, it obviously would be for financial reasons. It's actually a trick situation, though, because Howard: 1) saw Byron Jones surpass him in salary last offseason; 2) had a great year in 2020 when he was among the best defensive players in the NFL; 3) hired a new agent after the season. Now, it doesn't take much imagination to envision that new agent, David Canter, wanting to renegotiate Howard's contract, but the Dolphins gave Howard a five-year extension just two years ago, so it's also understandable that the Dolphins wouldn't be crazy about the idea of revisiting the contract at this time. So that's why there's even talk of anything happening with Howard.
From Hugo Castle (@CastleHugo):
What's so different between the Waddle pick and the Ted Ginn Jr. one?
It's pretty simple: Waddle is a much more accomplished as a wide receiver entering the NFL than Ginn was coming in from Ohio State. Just check out this analysis from ESPN right after the Dolphins selected Ginn: "There are no guarantees Ginn will develop into a quality No. 2 receiver. While he has excellent speed, he ran just three routes at Ohio State, so he has a tremendous amount of work to do in that area." The one similarity, and one that provides legitimate concern, is that both were undersized (Ginn at 5-11, 178; Waddle at 5-10, 182).
From Rich Miller (@SEApresident):
With such a young team on rookie deals, how are the Dolphins in cap trouble this year?
The Dolphins have about $13 million in cap space, which ranks 14th in the NFL, according to overthecap.com, so I'm not sure I'd say they're in "cap trouble." They're also 10th in dead cap space, in large part because they're eating $8 million after trading Ereck Flowers to Washington. While, yes, they have a lot of players on rookie deals, let's not forget that the Dolphins handed out a lot of big contracts last offseason (Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson, Flowers, to name four).
From Juanda Vélez (Juanda_v65):
Who do you think will be our starting OL?
That's a great question and a tough one to answer because the Dolphins have so many guys who can play different spots. For example, does Solomon Kindley stay at right guard or move to left guard? Does Robert Hunt move from right tackle to guard? Does rookie Liam Eichenberg start off at guard or tackle? And what about Jesse Davis, who can play practically anywhere on the line? My best guess right now would be Austin Jackson at left tackle, Solomon Kindley at left guard, Matt Skura at center, Robert Hunt at right guard and D.J. Fluker at right tackle. My reasoning for having Fluker at right tackle is to a veteran presence in there.
From AZ – Fins Up (@azomback34):
I’d like the NFL to devise a formula effectively discounting a veteran player’s cap hit if they’ve been in the league for X years & still in the same contract (even if restructured). Would prevent vets like McCain getting cut. No loyalty b/c teams need the cap space. Thoughts?
Yeah, what happened to McCain is a result of a restructure that really hurts the middle tier of players, with teams spending big on a few select players and filling out the cap with cheaper alternatives (rookie deals). Your point certainly has merit, but I'm not sure how it gets fixed without a whole revamping of the current system. There's also the issue of setting up a formula to determine which players would fall into that category and then owners would start spending more for the same cap amount, which obviously would create some push-back. I like your thinking from a loyalty aspect, but we can't ever forget that it's a business.
All Dolphins Publisher Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @PoupartNFL.