The Miami Dolphins had a busy day at the office on Thursday. In addition to eventually trading starting left tackle Branden Albert, the team also released former four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams and veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell.
The first move was a mild surprise, but the other two were not. Miami’s struggling defensive line is in need of retooling after an inconsistent pass rush and finishing 30th against the run last season. The Dolphins got rid of a combined $12.5 million in salary by cutting Williams and Mitchell.
Williams, who had a career-low 1.5 sacks, was arguably Miami’s biggest disappointment in 2016. He signed a two-year, $17 million contract in hopes of replacing former team sack leader Olivier Vernon. But Williams wasn’t anywhere near the player he was in his prime. Mitchell, who started next to Suh for much of the past two seasons, was banged up for much of the season. Defensive end Andre Branch is a free agent and former second-round pick Jordan Phillips has frustrated Miami’s coaching staff with his inconsistency.
And perhaps “consistency” should be what Miami looks for while searching for defensive linemen in the draft and free agency. The Dolphins already have two stars and playmakers, but they need other linemen who consistently do their jobs and know their assignments.
It shouldn’t be too much to ask considering Suh and Wake get most of the double teams. And following Thursday's cuts, defensive line is among the top needs for Miami this offseason.