This look at specialists is part of a series from our Dolphins beat writers.
The Dolphins’ special teams took a step backward in 2022, but many of the names will be the same in 2023.
Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, thought to be on the hot seat, was brought back by coach Mike McDaniel, who gave Crossman leeway because his unit was depleted by injuries.
Through ups and downs, Crossman has remained a believer in kicker Jason Sanders, who is under contract through the 2026 season.
Sanders, 27, has $2.5 million guaranteed coming his way in 2023, thanks to a five-year, $22 million extension signed in 2021.
Punter remains up in the air, however. Thomas Morstead, who turns 37 Wednesday, earned $1 million on a one-year deal in 2022. Although his family remains in New Orleans, Morstead has made it clear he’d like to return to the Dolphins.
How they did in 2022
Sanders’ 2022 season is whatever you make of it.
In recent years, fans have taken to believe that Sanders’ career was on an odd/even track. In even-numbered years, he tended to do well. In odd-numbered years, not so much.
After being named the All-Pro kicker in 2020, his fortunes took a dip. Sanders had missed only three total kicks in ’20, but that number ballooned to nine (including eight missed field-goal attempts) in 2021. That was an odd-numbered year, so maybe it made sense.
Except Sanders missed nine kicks (six field-goal tries) in 2022, seemingly blowing that theory out of the water.
Crossman stood by Sanders’ side and was rewarded as the season wore on. In the regular-season finale against the Jets, Sanders was perfect on three attempts, including a 50-yarder with 18 seconds left for a 9-6 lead, sending the Dolphins into the playoffs.
Then, in the wild-card game in Buffalo, Sanders again went three-for-three, including a 48-yarder. He tied the team record for most field goals in a postseason game.
Morstead delivered exactly what the Dolphins should have expected.
His career average is 46.5; his average in 2022 was 46.4.
His career net average is 41.6; his average in ’22 was 40.5. (If Crossman was afforded the benefit of doubt because of injuries, perhaps Morstead should be, too, because Miami’s coverage teams were poor).
Free agents of interest
The Dolphins have gone back and forth over the years on whether to bring in camp bodies to compete with specialists. Given the special teams’ underwhelming performance last season, it’s conceivable they open the competition this summer to spice up things.
Draft prospects to watch
No chance the Dolphins spend a pick on a specialist this year.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Miami Dolphins 2023: Jason Sanders tries to build off late-season surge