The Miami Dolphins have once again been secretly adding a lot of depth to their wide receiver core. Miami currently has 11 receivers on the roster and will likely have to cut it down to five or six.
Some of them are “sure-in’s” to make the roster (barring offseason injuries or problems), but a lot are fighting for very few spots.
The Dolphins made two free agent WR signings after the 2020 NFL Draft and have extended multiple wideouts in the last year. In addition, the team has also signed multiple players off teams’ practice squads that are vying for a roster spot.
DeVante Parker (1)
There’s no doubt Parker will be the No. 1 WR coming out of the gate for Miami in 2020.
After being almost traded during the Dolphins’ 2019 week five bye week, the former first-round pick finally had his breakout season week six on. He started and played all 16 games and eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career. Parker also finished with nine touchdowns, totaling five more than he had in any of his prior four seasons. The nine TDs in one season also tied his career TD total from those four years.
He was the go-to option for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Parker’s jump-ball and resilience ability is one of the main reasons Miami won five of their final nine games.
He signed a four-year, $40 million dollar contract ($21 million guaranteed) on Dec. 13, 2019.
Albert Wilson (2)
Before Tuesday happened Wilson would not be sitting here. However, Wilson and the Dolphins mutually agreed to restructure the final year of his three-year contract.
Wilson signed a three-year deal with Miami after spending four years with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was owed $9.4 million dollars this season, but was on the chopping block after two consecutive years of plaguing injuries. In order to likely stay on the roster and have a fighting chance, Wilson restructured to a $1 million dollar guarantee that, with incentives, would allow him to make up to $3 million dollars.
Miami needs Wilson’s proven successful presence in the middle of the field and bursts out of the slot. The Dolphins need someone to step up and fill that role, so a contract make-or-break year so giving $1 million instead of $9.4 million to see it’s Wilson ain’t too shabby.
Allen Hurns (3)
This is only likely to be true to start the season for two reasons:
- Miami signed him to an extension within months of signing him to the team.
- Preston Williams likely won’t be able to start the 2020 season after going on injured reserve late in 2019.
Hurns has spent a majority of his six NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but is now hopefully spending at least two more seasons with Miami. Last November, the Dolphins moved his one-year, $3 million dollar deal to a two-year, $8 million dollar deal. Just like with various veterans on the team, Miami hasn’t given multi-year contracts (or contract extensions) it doesn’t plan on using. Take Fitzpatrick for example.
The Dolphins are without a doubt banking on Hurns to return his playing days back to the success he had as a deep threat opposite Allen Robinson. Opposite Parker, Hurns can surely accomplish that.
Preston Williams (4)
It’s doubtful Williams is ready for week one after tearing his ACL and landing on IR in the middle of 2019. If he was OKed to start, he’d be in the No. 2 spot.
However, Williams showed so much on the field promise in minimal time that there is no way Miami cuts him. He played in eight games last year (seven starts) and earned 60 targets. He found the end zone three times, even with the shuffling QBs, and had 13.4 yards per touch. We know Fitzpatrick is a gun-slinger, but rookies don’t tend to post those numbers. Once Williams is cleared and as close to 100-percent as possible, he should be a week-in and week-out starter.
Isaiah Ford (5)
I don’t know why Miami has yet to promote the Virginia Tech University standout to the active roster full-time. It seems like every time he’s in the game he saves drives, extends plays and wins 50-50 balls.
When he earned the start as an injury-replacement WR week 14 at the New York Jets, Ford stepped onto the field and was the leading receiver. He finished with 92 yards on six catches (nine targets). Those numbers had him sit up as one of the top receiving games for a Dolphin in 2019. He also played all over the field to make those grabs. Additionally, in the final two weeks of the season, he caught five and seven balls respectively, being a key factor as to why Miami was able to win those games.
It’s almost like playing Ford more would contribute to more team wins. Unfortunately, the contract extensions for players likely keeps him as an injury replacement – but on the active roster.
Jakeem Grant (6)
Despite a four-year contract extension, Grant will likely solely be a special teams returner. He has the opportunity to jump into some offensive snaps, but he has proven his success is on punt and kick returns.
Miami is unlikely to cut him after the somewhat surprising lengthy extension. He has proven to be a reliable receiver in short bursts when needed and also has snaps as a rusher. He has even scored from the RB position (2019). Grant will likely see even less time on the field now with the addition of Malcolm Perry, but his usage as a PR/KR will keep him on the active roster.
Odd Men Out
The five remaining WRs have the hardest uphill climb to make the active roster.
Louis is back on Miami’s roster after being cut by it in seasons past. He has jumped around from team to team and hasn’t found a stable job since 2017. Louis last played two full 16-game seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He has no career TDs and just 45 receptions all-time.
Hollins was waived by the Philadelphia Eagles after their loss to Miami in 2019. The Dolphins claimed him off waivers amidst their injury woes.
He has played in 28 games (three starts) over two seasons with the Eagles. The fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft has 26 career receptions for 351 yards and one TD across 2017 and 2019. Hollins missed the entire 2018 season as he was on IR with a groin injury.
Jennings was a fourth-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks in 2019, but was a healthy scratch in September and October. Seattle eventually waived him on Nov. 5, 2019 and Miami claimed him. In his first game started with the team he injured his shoulder celebrating Grant’s KR TD and was on IR for the remainder of the season.
Without knowing his talents with such a small sample size, bearing any unforeseen breakthroughs, Jennings likely won’t have enough to take the seat from a slated starter.
Matt Cole and Kirk Merritt
Cole and Merritt were both signed as college free agents and sit at the bottom of the team’s depth chart. Cole comes out of a private university in Illinois, McKendree University, while Merritt comes out of Arkansas State University.
While both played well enough to earn NFL Draft scouting coverage, neither were drafted in its seven rounds. With no prior NFL experience or history it is unclear who either could start ahead of prior to training camp.
Offseason workouts for receivers are currently taking place, with NFL teams hoping to get their players back in their facilities in the middle of the month.