For retooled Miami Dolphins, building chemistry is top remaining priority

For retooled Miami Dolphins, building chemistry is top remaining priority

March 31, 2022

MIAMI — Chris Grier has been somewhat bored on NFL draft weekend before. Back in 2002, long before he was the general manager of the Miami Dolphins and was still just an area scout, Miami didn’t have a pick in either of the first two rounds. The Dolphins’ first pick that year was offensive lineman Seth McKinney in the third round with the 90th overall pick.

Twenty years later, the wait will be even longer as the Dolphins aren’t scheduled to pick until No. 102. But the reason why — a blockbuster trade for receiver Tyreek Hill that sent their first-and second-round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs — will keep Grier content for the first day and a half of this year’s draft, because the Dolphins are now in position to take the best player available.

Trading for Hill was the boldest move in a busy offseason that has filled Miami’s biggest roster holes. This week the Dolphins dismissed recent speculation about possibly trading for Buccaneers QB Tom Brady, and Grier shut down talk of potential interest in free agent safety Tyrann Mathieu, saying the team will move forward with its young duo of Brandon Jones and Jevon Holland.

“We have been building here for a while since we took over [he became GM in in 2016], just trying to acquire picks and cleaning up salary cap and stuff, and so I think it was the opportunity to add a good player, a very dynamic player — one that we feel is one of the best players in the league,” Grier said of the Hill trade on Monday in Miami at the NFL owners meetings.

“When those opportunities come, you can’t pass on it and I think we’d spent the last few years, like I said, building and getting the roster to a point where we feel like we can start competing.”

The Dolphins missed the playoffs by one game in 2021 and have undergone major change this offseason to get over that hump. They gave Mike McDaniel his first head-coaching job, assembled an experienced offensive staff and made a flurry of additions on offense to boost a unit that hasn’t finished a season ranked in the top 10 since 1995.

If the primary goal of the offseason was to build around third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Miami has passed with flying colors — on paper.

But McDaniel said the process is far from complete, even with an improved roster.

“Have we done enough? We’ve barely even scratched the surface,” he said. “There is no shortcut to doing anything great in this league … there’s no shortcut, there’s no secret. It’s guys coming in together trying to work for a common goal and becoming the best offense, which is — remember, football is 11 separate players working together in unison at the same time and that’s what we’re going to start working on on Monday.

“Each and every day we’re going to be challenging Tua to be his very best, as well as every other player on the offense.”

McDaniel is referring to the April 4 start date for the Dolphins’ offseason workout program, which can begin two weeks earlier than other teams because of his status as a new head coach.



Marcel Louis-Jacques breaks down the Dolphins’ decision to sign offensive tackle Terron Armstead.

The question now is what remaining moves are needed beyond building chemistry among their new players?

Grier said he has fielded calls from other teams about trading for receiver DeVante Parker and center Michael Deiter. He expects both to be with the Dolphins in 2022, but acknowledged the interest in Deiter is strong.

Miami needs depth at interior offensive line, and Deiter, who missed 11 games last season with a knee injury, will be competing to reclaim his starting job. Grier noted that last year was Deiter’s first playing center and said he isn’t ready to move on from him quite yet.

“Mike really developed as kind of a leader. He became much more vocal,” Grier said. “He had an injury last year that was kind of a freak injury. Our doctors had said they hadn’t really seen anything like it … so he really hasn’t played a ton of games at center. The interesting thing about him is that every year (in the) offseason we’ve had teams call — multiple teams call — and offer us picks for him. So he’s thought of pretty well around the league.”

No matter what happens between now and the draft, which starts April 28 on ESPN, Miami’s biggest need now is to jell before the season.

Grier has insisted this offseason that his team is no longer rebuilding. His actions thus far have matched his words.