Number 86 and the Three Dolphins Who Wore It Best

The Dolphins have had a good number of solid wide receivers and tight ends at 86, led by Oronde Gadsden
Wide receiver Mack Hollins against the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium in a 2021 game.
Wide receiver Mack Hollins against the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium in a 2021 game. / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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The countdown to the start of the 2024 regular season has begun now that we're under 100 days away, so we'll honor every day the best players to wear the corresponding number for the Dolphins.

Today, we're at number 86.

The top players at each number so far have been Jason Taylor at 99, Jared Odrick at 98Phillip Merling at 97Paul Soliai at 96Tim Bowens at 95Randy Starks at 94,  Trace Armstrong at 93John Denney at 92Cameron Wake at 91Marco Coleman at 90,  Nat Moore at 89, Keith Jackson at 88, and Andre Tillman at 87.

As a reminder about the ground rules, the top three will be determined only by what the players did while wearing that uniform for the Dolphins.

Players who wore 86 for at least one regular season game for the Dolphins:

DE Mel Branch (1966-68), DE Vern Den Herder (1971), WR Marlin Briscoe (1972-74), WR Freddie Solomon (1975-77), TE Ronnie Lee (1979-82), John Chesley (1984), WR George Farmer (1987), WR Fred Banks (1987-93), TE Eric Green (1995), WR Qadry Ismail (1997), WR Oronde Gadsden (1998-2003), WR Marty Booker (2004-07), TE Mickey Shuler (2010), TE John Nalbone (2010), WR Rishard Matthews (2012), TE Jake Stoneburner (2015), TE Mike Gesicki (2018), WR Mack Hollins (2019-21), WR Braylon Sanders (2022)

The debate on the best 86 on the Dolphins

The number 86 has been a lot more productive for the Dolphins than 87, with some quality wide receivers, tight ends and a dynamic kick returner. Marlin Briscoe was acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills and started 20 games for the Dolphins, including all 14 in 1973. Freddie Solomon was a multi-faceted big-play threat — eight of his nine touchdowns with the Dolphins covered at least 50 yards and came on five receptions, three returns and one run. He was included in the package the Dolphins sent the 49ers in the trade brought running back Delvin Williams to Miami. Ronnie Lee started 34 games as a blocking tight end from 1979-82 before he played for Atlanta in 1983 and returned to Miami in 1984 with a new number and a new position (offensive lineman). Fred Banks was a solid backup wide receiver for six-plus seasons whose best season came in 1989 when he had 30 receptions. After coming to the NFL from the Arena League, Oronde Gadsden became a starter for the Dolphins and had four very good seasons while displaying perhaps the best hands in franchise history. Marty Booker averaged 48 catches in four seasons as a starter in Miami after arriving in the money-drive trade of Adewale Ogunleye to the Chicago Bears. Vern Den Herder wore 86 as a rookie ninth-round pick in 1971 before switching to 83. ... Eric Green joined the Dolphins as a free agent in 1995 after being a first-round pick of the Steelers, but his performance didn't live up to the hype even though his numbers were solid. Mike Gesicki wore 86 in 2018 during what was his rather forgettable rookie season.

The top three Dolphins players with number 86

1. WR Oronde Gadsden

2. WR Freddie Solomon

3. WR Marty Booker

Dolphins 86's among the NFL's all-time best

No really need to mention the Dolphins here, so we'll just point out there are three Hall of Famers who wore predominantly 87 are Dave Casper, Willie Davis and Claude Humphrey.

Alain Poupart


Alain Poupart is the publisher/editor of and co-host of the All Dolphins Podcast. Alain has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989 for various publications and media outlets, including Dolphin Digest, The Associated Press, the Dolphins team website, and the Fan Nation Network (part of Sports Illustrated). In addition to being a credentialed member of the Miami Dolphins press corps, Alain has covered three Super Bowls (for, Football News and the Montreal Gazette), the annual NFL draft, the Senior Bowl, and the NFL Scouting Combine. During his almost 40 years in journalism, which began at the now-defunct Miami News, Alain has covered practically every sport at one time or another, from tennis to golf, baseball, basketball and everything in between. The career also included time as a copy editor, including work on several books such as "Still Perfect," an inside look at the Miami Dolphins' 1972 perfect season. A native of Montreal, Canada, whose first language is French, Alain grew up a huge hockey fan but soon developed a love for all sports, including NFL football. He has lived in South Florida since the 1980s.