DeVante Parker is now entering his fifth season with the Miami Dolphins after signing a two-year, $10 million contract extension this offseason, but is he even worth that?
I know, I know, he has been slated in the No. 1 receiving slot on the Dolphins’ depth chart on and off for multiple years, but goodness, the only thing he seems completely consistent in is injuries and lackluster performances.
Moreover, the first-round draft pick has never eclipsed 60 catches in one season nor caught for more than 800 yards. For a Miami team who has desperately been looking for ways to put more points on the board in the last decade, a guy who’s supposed to have top-notch quality isn’t helping it with his career-high in touchdowns per season sitting at four.
Yeah, yeah, I’ve seen the numerous optimistic reports from places such as the Miami Herald and PhinPhinatic. But the reality is, these reports come out around the same time each year, after off-season practices, and are filled with empty promises to date.
Depth Chart Questions
This year, Parker is already sitting in the No. 2 role on the depth chart behind Kenny Stills. Not too shabby, until you realize Stills is injured and is even questionable for the start of mini camp at the end of July. He has also beat out big-name, big-play threats from last year in Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant, as well as Brice Butler. What’s the catch? Parker is the only healthy WR in that list — when have you ever been able to say that?
Wilson endured a season-ending hip injury last year, and although Grant and the team has yet to confirm that he tore his Achilles last season, extensive rehab for his Achilles in the offseason is not a coincidence. Both Wilson and Grant join Stills in a questionable designation for training camp (and beyond). So with essentially every WR injured, the Dolphins have to designate Parker into a starting role on the depth chart. But, they still slated him behind an injured dude. That’s comforting.
What’s Working Against Him
Granted, Parker has been given tall orders from a Miami team who has now thrown three new head coaches his way in the span of five years. He started with Joe Philbin before having Adam Gase for a few seasons, and is now onto Brian Flores, who is in his first year.
Let’s not rekindle the fact that Gase and Parker never saw eye to eye. Although Parker was kept out of games when Gase was at the realm because of “injury”, we do not know if that was truly the case each time.
Parker should be thankful he wasn’t traded like former Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, or acclaimed defensive tackle Ndamakong Suh under Gase either. But, would he have actually thanked Gase if he had been dealt? I mean with already dealing with Ryan Tannehill’s inconsistencies and then having to play and learn the emotionless Jay Cutler when Tannehill went down wasn’t an easy adjustment. In all honesty, the man was often stranded on the field — when he was actually on it.
Would it be more concerning if Parker had a recurring injury that one could chalk up to a regular excuse? Or is it more concerning that he has as many injuries for years he’s about to play in the NFL? From foot, toe, ankle, hamstring and finger he seems injury prone.
Yes, we saw the damage a toe injury could do to Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green last season, and I’ve had my fair share of finger jams, but if Jason Pierre-Paul can play with three fingers and a club, Parker can play with some tape and a padded glove.
The Dolphins don’t have time to guess on who can catch a ball for them again, especially in the midst of a quarterback battle between newly acquired Josh Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals and the NFL carousel QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Miami plans to have a mostly recovered Wilson and Grant back, at least in some capacity, before the start of the regular season. While it’s only natural to keep a close eye on them getting reinjured, we still don’t have to send them out onto the field for the season opener in bubble wrap like Parker. In fact, that might be an upgrade though, as Parker has never played an opening weekend in his NFL career.
A harsh critic to a guy who has dealt with injuries and head-shakers throwing to him for his entire career, maybe? But, the only way he can fix that? Show up and prove that he can improve his career numbers. Something that has now been said for the fourth year in a row. Any NFL WR can catch a deep pass with no defenders in an off-season workout, but do it up in Foxborough to beat the New England Patriots when it matters.