The Dolphins, embarking on a youth movement and rebuilding program, parted ways with their most experienced wide receiver on Friday, cutting Danny Amendola after just one season with the team.
Amendola, 33, led Miami in catches (59) and yards (575) this past season but the Dolphins want to get younger at the position and have said they’re willing to sustain short-term pain this season with an eye toward bolstering their team longterm.
By releasing Amendola, the Dolphins do not need to pay any of the $5.9 million he was owed next season and save $6 million on their salary cap, with no dead money. The release of Amendola was characterized as a mutual decision, with Amendola aware of Miami’s plans to rebuild and create cap space.
The release of Amendola – coupled with Thursday’s release of defensive end Andre Branch and guard Ted Larsen – leaves the Dolphins with $22 million in cap space.
Amendola assuredly will not be the only receiver to move on.
The Dolphins also are expected to rescind the fifth-year option on receiver DeVante Parker by next Wednesday’s deadline to do so. That will give the Dolphins an additional $9.4 million in cap space.
Amendola caught 59 of the 75 passes thrown to him last season but only 27 of those 59 catches went for first downs, one reason why quarterbacks had a pretty average 86.4 passer rating in his coverage area.
Amendola’s release, and the expected release of Parker, will leave Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, Kenny Stills and Brice Butler as the veteran receivers under contract.
Though there’s no indication that the Dolphins want to move on from Stills, keep in mind that $1 million of his $7.97 million base salary becomes guaranteed on March 17. Already, $3 million has been guaranteed.
Wilson will earn a $6.9 million base salary next season in the second year of a three-year contract and remains in Miami’s longterm plans. Grant will be paid $720,000 in the final season of his contract.
Butler will earn $805,000 in the second year of a two-year contract signed when Miami claimed him off waivers last season.
The Dolphins also have young receivers Leonte Carroo (a restricted free agent) and Isaiah Ford and could add a receiver or two in the draft process.
In Pro Football Focus’s final ranking of 125 receivers last season, the web site rated Grant 48th, Parker 50th, Amendola 67th and Stills 80th. If Wilson had enough snaps to qualify, his 82.9 grade would have ranked him 14th.
Amendola signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Dolphins last March after five years with the New England Patriots, where he caught 230 passes for 2383 yards and 12 touchdowns. But he caught only one touchdown as a Dolphin.
Had the Dolphins retained him, his offensive coordinator would have been Chad O’Shea, his former receivers coach with the Patriots.
Veteran tight end Dwayne Allen left his Dolphins visit on Friday without a contract. Allen will assess his options after visiting Miami, Baltimore, Detroit and Buffalo this past week.
The Miami Dolphins are in a complete rebuild. After overperforming to a 7-9 2018 record, they’ve traded away a once presumed franchise quarterback and parted ways with veteran talents including Josh Sitton and Danny Amendola. In 2018 they also parted ways with Pro-Bowl talents Jarvis Landry and Ndamukong Suh.
But the Dolphins didn’t stop with parting ways with veteran football players. They fired Adam Gase at head coach and signed Brian Flores to a five-year deal. That deal might have been the first indicator that they are blowing it up, as it is structured to where his job would be safe even if they did tank.
There have also been rumors out of Miami that they are tanking for Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. There is also a consensus that they are looking to establish a new culture in Miami, which most of the times includes trading away talent for a bevy of draft picks.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, finished 2018 with a 3-13 record. While their wins and losses don’t resemble a win-now approach, their transactions do. Not only have they hired Kliff Kingsbury to implement a radically new offense, but they have also added a dearth of veteran talent both in free agency and in the trade block.
While there have been rumors of Josh Rosen leaving the desert, I will continue under the assumption that he is the quarterback going into next year. But, even if the Cardinals draft Kyler Murray, the franchise will still be under the same train of thought of building around a rookie contract at quarterback.
The Cardinal should certainly look into a trade with the Dolphins because of that difference in competitive timeline. On the other hand, the Dolphins should look into a Cardinals trade due to their newfound wealth of draft picks. The Arizona Cardinals have ten 2019 picks including the first selection in every round but the seventh.
Dolphins players that I believe are the most tradeable include CB Xavien Howard, WR Kenny Stills, LB Kiko Alonso, EDGE Robert Quinn, and S Reshad Jones. For the Cardinals, two names stand out the most on this list; cornerback Xavien Howard, and wide receiver Kenny Stills.
If you weren’t aware by now, 25 year old Xavien Howard is a rising star at cornerback and received a 2018 Pro-Bowl nod for his efforts. But, with a looming contract extension and his publicly mentioned want to win, the Dolphins could look to save some money and add some draft picks by trading Howard.
At 6-1, Howard has the size of a boundary cornerback. His ball-hawking playstyle and physical brand of football should also be noted as plus’ in his game. In the past two seasons combined, Howard has tallied 11 interceptions, 25 pass deflections, and 83 tackles. Even more impressive, he only played in 12 contests in 2018, yet he led the league in interceptions with seven.
While cornerback isn’t a major team need for the Cardinals, adding Howard to a defense consisting of Chandler Jones, Jordan Hicks, Terrell Suggs, Patrick Peterson, Budda Baker, and D.J. Swearinger (maybe even Nick Bosa) would give NFC West offensive coordinators nightmares. Due to the high selection nature of the Cardinals picks, trading for Howard could realistically cost just 2019 third and 2020 second (or maybe even third).
However, Kenny Stills may be even more intriguing to the Cardinals than a cornerback with the upside of a perennial Pro-Bowler. Despite being just 26 years old, Stills has played six NFL seasons, missing only two games. He’s not a guy that will carry your team week in and week out, but he’s an excellent option that you can depend upon.
Stills is a speedy receiver (4.38 second 40-yard-dash) that has found a way to produce consistently in the NFL. While he hasn’t racked up catches, he scores a touchdown in nearly every eight of them and has the versatile game to play both outside or in the slot. As a route-runner, Stills has the agility to will himself open and is particularly effective on shorter, horizontal routes.
Stills has been known to be a good locker room character as well and has a high football intelligence. His contract is rather affordable as well, as he is under contract for two more seasons on an average yearly cap hit of $9.25 million, per Over The Cap. Simply put, Stills could be exactly what the Cardinals need. I estimate his trade value to hover around a fourth-round pick.