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Chris Perkins: Miami Dolphins seem headed for a one-year pause in 2024

I feel for you, Miami Dolphins fans.

You took another gut punch Monday.

Actually, you endured a flurry of body blows Monday, the first day free agents could negotiate with teams:

— Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (Las Vegas);

— Right guard Robert Hunt (Carolina);

— Edge rusher Andrew Van Ginkel (Minnesota);

— Safety Brandon Jones (Denver).

All of a sudden, The Rebuild feels stuck in the mud.

It’s starting to feel as though 2023 was the best chance for The Rebuild to produce a Super Bowl appearance.

Worse, it’s starting to feel as though 2024, the sixth year of a rebuild that started with tanking in 2019, is a recovery year, a time to hit the pause button.

It doesn’t feel like 2024 will be a surge ahead year.

Personnel-wise and financially, it’s feeling as though the Dolphins sprinted out of the gate in the marathon and now they’re trying to catch their breath on the run as everyone passes them.

You deserve better, Dolphins fans.

The Rebuild, to this point, has been a major disappointment.

No playoff victory. No AFC East title. No home playoff game.

It’s been led by a made-for-TV offense that sells lots of tickets but doesn’t show up against quality opponents.

I’m keeping my eyes on the big picture.

I’m being level-headed.

Monday was only Day 1 of the legal tampering period of free agency.

Technically, it wasn’t even the start of free agency. That’s at 4 p.m. Wednesday, which is the start of the new league year.

So, Monday was the beginning of the start, which means it’s very early in the player acquisition process.

There’s still the $18.5 million that comes available in June with the official release of cornerback Xavien Howard (he’s being designated as a June 1 cut) that the Dolphins can use to acquire free agents.

And keep in mind player acquisition goes until the late-November trade deadline, a time when they acquired edge rusher Bradley Chubb and running back Jeff Wilson Jr. in 2022.

I think the Dolphins, led by general manager Chris Grier, the front office and scouting department, can gather enough talent to make the playoffs.

At this point, however, I’m starting to think there’s no way Grier and the Dolphins can gather enough talent to get to a Super Bowl.

That’s a change in thinking.

The Dolphins are slowly losing me.

In January, I wrote that the Dolphins should be considered Super Bowl contenders in 2024.

I believed that until Monday afternoon.

I believed that because I thought the Dolphins would keep either Howard or Wilkins— not lose both. For nothing.

And I thought they’d surely re-sign Van Ginkel.

I thought two of those three would return. All three are leaving.

The defense, which was a major factor in the Dolphins going 1-6 against playoff teams last season, has been gutted.

The offense, which only averaged 16 points per game in those seven games against playoff teams last season, doesn’t seem likely to make any major additions.

A Super Bowl appearance is out of the question at this point.

The Dolphins, with some additions, should have enough talent to make the playoffs among coach Mike McDaniel, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, left tackle Terron Armstead, defensive tackle Zach Sieler, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, safety Jevon Holland and a few others.

Injuries will likely take out a few key players but the Dolphins have had good depth the past couple of years.

Still, I can’t help feeling badly for Dolphins fans.

It’s been 23 years since you last witnessed a playoff victory.

You should have seen one last season but that crushing 28-27 loss against Tennessee vanquished that chance by eliminating the possibility of hosting a first-round playoff game.

A blown opportunity.

Looking ahead, the chances of the Dolphins winning a playoff game, let alone going to a Super Bowl, are currently grim for 2024.

Again, it’s only the beginning of the beginning of free agency.

I’m not going to be fatalistic about Monday’s personnel losses.

I’m not going to be fatalistic about the Dolphins’ limited finances, which limits their chances at big free agent improvements.

The Dolphins’ free agent additions — Tennessee center Aaron Brewer, Seattle linebacker Jordyn Brooks, Cleveland linebacker Anthony Walker Jr., and Tampa edge rusher Shaq Barrett— are decent players.

There’s also the draft, in which the Dolphins can get significant help in the first and second rounds.

It’s almost a sure thing, however, that the Dolphins won’t have as much talent in 2024 as they had in 2023, when they failed to win a playoff game.

The Dolphins will be OK in 2024.

But OK doesn’t get you to a Super Bowl.

OK also doesn’t keep The Rebuild moving forward.

For that reason, I feel badly for Dolphins fans.