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Shutdown Corner

Shutdown Corner Offseason Blueprints: Miami Dolphins

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner

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The Dolphins must protect Ryan Tannehill better (Getty Images)

After the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, all 32 teams officially entered the offseason and started plotting how they could position themselves for a shot at Super Bowl XLIX. Shutdown Corner will look at the offseason blueprint for each of the 32 NFL teams, presenting one team a day (using the 2014 draft order, starting with the Houston Texans and finishing with the Seahawks), leading you right up to the start of free agency on March 11.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

2013 record: 8-8

Projected current salary-cap space (according to OverTheCap.com): $36.2 million under the cap

Key free agents: DT Randy Starks, DT Paul Soliai, CB Brent Grimes, OG Richie Incognito, TE Dustin Keller, OL Tyson Clabo, S Chris Clemons, OT Bryant McKinnie.

Possible salary-cap casualties: CB Dimitri Patterson, QB Matt Moore.

Draft situation: The Dolphins will draft 19th in the first round and own all their original picks.

Revisiting 2013: After a 3-0 start that included wins over 2012 postseason teams in the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons, the Dolphins looked to be able to push the New England Patriots for the division title. But that's where things fell apart. They lost their next four games, and even with a few bounce-back victories over the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers, the locker room became the center of attention with the Jonathan Martin-Incognito hazing spat in November that clouded the team for the remainder of the season. Credit head coach Joe Philbin for temporarily rallying the team in a solid stretch from mid-November to mid-December considering all the hubbub, but losing the final two games — during which the offense went dormant — cost them a shot at the playoff.

Reasons for optimism: The Dolphins believe they have their franchise quarterback, even if his full development hasn't yet been realized, in Ryan Tannehill, and he has a top wideout to tilt the field in Mike Wallace, who had some of his best production down the stretch, and good complementary targets in tight end Charles Clay and receiver Brian Hartline. On defense, Cameron Wake and Reshad Jones are strong foundational pieces. There are some free agents to work on in-house, but the Dolphins are flush in cap space (and could have more with a few cuts) and an owner in Stephen Ross who will green-light big-name signings, as he did a year ago, to help improve the talent base and also earn some positive press in light of the Martin-Incognito saga.

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Mike Pouncey (Getty Images)

Glaring hole to fill: The offensive line is a mess. Martin likely won't play again for the team. Incognito likely won't be re-signed. John Jerry is a free agent. Center Mike Pouncey — their best lineman — could face a suspension from the league for his role in the hazing. Dallas Thomas might improve to the point of helping out next season as a guard or tackle, but he played only two snaps on offense last season. There isn't a position that doesn't need help, and you could see new GM Dennis Hickey use multiple draft picks and free-agent signings to fix this group.

Toughest decision: There will be some interesting decisions to make on some of their own free agents, including three defensive starters. Defensive tackles Starks and Soliai might come back, but would the Dolphins issue the franchise tag to Grimes? They might have to, or the secondary could join the offensive line as the position with the most turnover and holes to fill. In addition, they'll have to decide on keeping Patterson (at a reduced salary) and McKinnie, but the good news is that the cap space should be ample enough.

Best-case offseason scenario: If Hickey can find solutions on the offensive line and in the secondary, which will be a massive chore, the Dolphins then can turn toward adding depth elsewhere — including running back, tight end, receiver and linebacker. It's going to be a busy offseason for the team, and new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and Tannehill will have to find a common ground to help build a productive scheme. There is some talent on the roster, and a few ascending players to keep note of, but there also are big changes ahead.

Previous Blueprints: 32. Houston Texans; 31. Washington Redskins; 30. Jacksonville Jaguars; 29. Cleveland Browns; 28. Oakland Raiders; 27. Atlanta Falcons; 26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 25. Minnesota Vikings; 24. Buffalo Bills; 23. Detroit Lions; 22. Tennessee Titans; 21. New York Giants; 20. St. Louis Rams; 19. Chicago Bears; 18. Pittsburgh Steelers; 17. Dallas Cowboys; 16. Baltimore Ravens; 15. New York Jets

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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