Kelly: Ten things we learned from Dolphins’ offseason program

School is out for summer in Miami Gardens.

The Miami Dolphins wrapped up the offseason program this past week by holding minicamp, which concluded a month’s worth of on-field work conducted by the team’s veterans, newcomers, and the rookies.

Miami’s coaches had plenty of goals for this offseason, like implement new plays for the upgraded tight end unit, work on chemistry in the passing game, and test drive Anthony Weaver’s new defense. Some of those goals were achieved, but there were also a number of issues and factors that contributed to Miami’s offseason drama. Will those issues be resolved by the time they return for training camp in late July?

Here’s a breakdown of the ten things we learned from the Dolphins’ offseason work the media attended.

1. Tua’s extension with Dolphins isn’t close

When a player tells the media “the market is the market” three times when addressing negotiations for a multiyear deal, that’s a clear indication that a deal isn’t close. Tua Tagovailoa held a sit-in all offseason, skipping days and limiting his participation to 7-on-7. There’s no indication that will change if he and the Dolphins don’t find some middle ground on the multiyear extension he’s adamant he needs before the start of the regular season. So if a deal doesn’t get done it could impact the offense’s development.

2. Patience is required on rehab of pass rushers

Jaelan Phillips (Achilles), Bradley Chubb (ACL) and Cameron Goode (patella tendon) are all attempting to have miraculous returns from injuries that typically require nine to 12 months of rehabilitation. The safe bet is that they will all begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list and be brought back slowly with the goal of being active for the start of the regular season in September. But the Dolphins typically take a cautious approach with injured players, especially athletes as important as the team’s two starting pass rushers in Phillips and Chubb. So don’t be alarmed if they remain on the PUP list for the first four games before being cleared to return to the field.

3. Tyreek Hill wants his contract extended

Receivers are getting PAID this offseason, and Hill’s figuratively holding his hand out, seeking an extension on the four year, $120 million extension he signed in 2022 after being acquired in a trade with Kansas City. Hill will earn $20 million this season if he achieves all his bonuses, and this is the final year of his deal that’s guaranteed. Next season he’s expected to earn $21.9 million, which falls significantly short of what Justin Jefferson is averaging ($28.4 million). He’s likely seeking a two-year extension that guarantees him $60-plus million.

4. De’Von Achane might be Miami’s lead back

Achane was the top playmaker, chain mover in Miami’s offseason program, routinely showcasing his good vision and snap-of-the-finger speed, which allowed him to shine during the football in pajamas period of the offseason program. Because Raheem Mostert is being preserved for the regular season and Salvon Ahmed and Chris Brook are each nursing injuries, Achane handled the bulk of the tailback work this offseason and didn’t disappoint. It will be interesting to see how much he gets used when the exhibition season arrives.

5. Odell Beckham Jr. has a cannon

While Beckham didn’t participate in on-field work for the Dolphins because of an injury Miami’s trainers are being cautious with, he did get himself involved with a throwing competition the quarterbacks were having on Wednesday, and it showcased how good of an arm the 10-year veteran has. Beckham lobbed a pass 60 yards downfield and hit the goalpost in one try, as if it were easy. Miami’s coaches couldn’t help but notice how good of an arm Beckham has.

6. Dolphins have tough decisions to make at receiver

Hill and Jaylen Waddle are one of the NFL’s most dynamic duos at receiver, but they both battled a few injuries last season, and in their absence Miami’s receiver unit took a step back. Miami worked to ensure that wouldn’t be the case this offseason when they signed Beckham, and selected Malik and Tahj Washington in the 2024 NFL Draft. With Braxton Berrios, River Cracraft and Erik Ezukamna still on the team it’s clear that Miami’s decision-makers will have a hard time trimming the unit down to six receivers on the 53-man roster, and two on the practice squad.

7. Aaron Brewer is quite small

The former Titans center, whom the Dolphins signed to three-year deal worth $21 million ($13.8 million of that money is guaranteed) this offseason, is listed at 6-foot-1, 295 pounds, which is relatively small for a college offensive linemen, much less an NFL starter. Miami added Brewer because of his athleticism, which should make him an asset in the run game, but the biggest concern is whether he can hold up against zero technique defensive tackles without help. Brewer allowed a handful of sacks in each of the past two seasons in Tennessee.

8. Defensive line needs reinforcements

Replacing Christian Wilkins and Raekwon Davis, multiyear starters who worked wonderfully with Zach Sieler on Miami’s defensive front, was Miami’s biggest challenge of this offseason. The Dolphins addressed those free agent defections by signing nine journeymen, unproven NFL players or undrafted rookies, hoping that a handful of them will be decent contributors. Is that it? Are Teair Tart, Da’Shawn Hand, Jonathan Harris, Benito Jones and Jonathan Harris Miami’s final answer? Let’s hope it’s not, and Miami adds a veteran or two before the regular season arrives.

9. Volume has been turned up at inside linebacker

There are two units that clearly upgraded in talent this offseason, and that’s tight end and inside linebacker. Jordan Brooks and Anthony Walker shined during the offseason program, showcasing range, athleticism, and instincts. The newcomers seemingly have the talent to remain NFL starters. Paired with David Long Jr., who led the team in tackles last season, and Duke Riley, the Dolphins now have a foursome of inside linebackers who should help diversify Miami’s defensive packages.

10. Depth at cornerback and safety could become an issue

Jalen Ramsey and Kendall Fuller should provide Miami a solid starting duo of cornerbacks, but there’s little behind those two veterans when it comes to established, proven, playmaking cornerbacks. The hope is that Kader Kohou rebounds from a disappointing second season, Nik Needham regains his speed in his second season back from the Achilles tendon injury he sustained in 2022 and Cam Smith and Ethan Bonner take major steps forward from their rookie seasons. At safety, Miami has a solid duo in Jordan Poyer, Jevon Holland, but must find two capable backups.