May is an NFL wasteland. It's basically the off-season's halftime. The draft is over and — except for rookies and fringe players trying out in the South Florida humidity — there's not much happening.
For Dolphins fans, however, this May represents hope. That's because the team's revamped front office and coaching staff are doing very un-Dolphins-like stuff.
Here are a few promising signs that these Miami Dolphins aren't the same old team. Hey, it's May. Let us live our best life and believe.
1. Everyone thinks the Dolphins made a good trade. That's new. NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks said on live television that the team may have found its Brett Favre in acquiring Josh Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals for second- and fifth-round picks. Either Bucky Brooks has swallowed some elite edibles or the Miami Dolphins actually made a sound football decision with very little downside — is it our birthday?
In the past, the Dolphins have been known to panic to fill a need. Whether they were trading up for Dion Jordan or trading draft picks midseason to plug a hole they should have filled long ago, the Fins have rarely made universally applauded trades.
No more, we say! New Dolphins, who this?
2. Paying Xavien Howard record money shows the Dolphins finally value keeping their stars. Last week the Dolphins made Xavien Howard the highest paid cornerback in the NFL with a new contract. A really big contract. It will pay Howard $51 million in the first three years of the deal, and a boatload more for a couple of seasons if he kicks the same level of ass he did in 2018.
This deal is about more than just paying a player big money, though. It's about keeping one of our own. The Dolphins have too often given up on superstars because it was time to pay them. Jarvis Landry was the most recent example, but there have been countless others. The Dolphins tend to pay other teams' up-and-comers crazy money on the free agent market, but not their own.
That seems to be over. Xavien will be a Miami Dolphin for the foreseeable future.
3. Signing Mark Walton shows the Dolphins are no longer pretending to employ only choir boys. The Dolphins recently took a flyer on ex-Miami Hurricanes running back and Cincinnati Bengals fourth-round pick Mark Walton. In a vacuum, getting Walton for nothing just a year after the Bengals invested a midround pick in him is a steal. When you check TMZ.com and find out Walton has been arrested three times in the last three months, you understand why he was available.
Why is it a good thing the Dolphins were willing to bring in Walton? Because it shows they aren't trying to pretend the NFL is a place where only good guys win football games. They're willing to take some risks. The Patriots do it all the time and, in the past, have gotten value the Dolphins passed up.
Now that some of the Patriots' former brass and coaches are in Miami, it seems the Dolphins won't be afraid to give players second chances.
4. Youth will finally lead the way. Sure, the Dolphins are giving guys like Mark Walton a chance, but they're also forming a nice core of young, dependable stars. With Minkah Fitzpatrick, Christian Wilkins, Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, and Josh Rosen, this year's best and brightest will be their youngest and most promising. For too many seasons, the Dolphins have relied on team leaders who were either just entering their prime or beyond it. Those players were mostly unmotivated to lead.
Ndamukong Suh didn't want to be a leader. Ryan Tannehill faked it, at best. These young guys want the torch. You can see it's different.
The Dolphins have a young core of intelligent players who not only excel on the field, but seem genuinely interested in being well-rounded people. That's the sort of foundation a team needs to build a Super Bowl locker room.
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5. Brian Flores brings toughness and a defensive mindset the Dolphins have lacked. For years the team has relied upon the next offensive guru: There was the one who "made" Aaron Rodgers (Joe Philbin) and the other who "made" Peyton Manning (Adam Gase). Neither ended up knowing a damn thing about running an offense without a Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm.
This season, Flores brings a new approach. A defensive, tough mindset that should translate to Miami faster than some magical offense.
It makes a lot more sense to invest in Flores' ideas and those of the new front office. So far, so good.