Dolphins' chances of contending for Super Bowl hinge on quarterback

If the Dolphins hope to be a factor in the AFC next season, they will probably need a healthy season from Ryan Tannehill. Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

Here's a look at the Super Bowl prospects of the Miami Dolphins, who finished the season 6-10. The tiers consist of: Realistic Super Bowl expectations; Should contend, but there are question marks; Middle of the pack; Lots of work to do; and Nowhere close.

Westgate odds of winning Super Bowl LIII: 80-1

Lots of work to do: After reaching the playoff in Adam Gase's first season as coach in 2016, the Dolphins took a step back this season.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first week of training camp. The Dolphins signed Jay Cutler to replace Tannehill, giving him a one-year, $10 million contract that failed to pay dividends. Backups Matt Moore (two starts) and David Fales also saw time under center for Miami.

The Dolphins success or failure in 2018 will depend on their ability to shore up the quarterback position. Cutler probably isn't coming back. Miami will probably keep Tannehill, assuming his knee rehab remains on track. He is due about $17.5 million next season and will be 30 next July. Health permitting, Tannehill could have some quality football left.

Miami will also count on running back Kenyan Drake to take on a larger role after trading Jay Ajayi at midseason. Drake rushed for 644 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He earned the confidence of Miami's coaching staff, but the team also needs to add players to the tailback group.

Work in free agency should start at home as two-time Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry is an unrestricted free agent in March. Landry set an NFL record for most catches (400) through the first four seasons of his career.

Miami needs to keep Tannehill healthy by finding help on the offensive line. The Dolphins could need as many as three new starters for 2018. Both guard positions are wide open, and starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James, who suffered a season-ending hamstring injury, is due about $9 million on his fifth-year option that is not guaranteed. The Dolphins could use free agency to address the position, targeting players such as Gabe Jackson and Justin Pugh.