AC in the AM: Dolphins Take Important First Steps

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Every move has its own story. Every decision has its own meaning. Every player has his own journey. But the over-riding theme Wednesday with the start of the NFL's calendar year, was much broader than that: This was about the Miami Dolphins needing to collectively get a whole lot better. This was about beginning that process. 

Where they go from here is what will ultimately define their offseason. 

But as far as first days go, the Dolphins certainly were productive. They completed two trades. They made some tough calls, releasing three veterans. They decided on a right tackle. They, based on several reports, restructured a few contracts. They are about to change the look of their wide receiver room. Indeed, they began implementing a well thought out plan forged by Vice President Mike Tannenbaum, General Manager Chris Grier and Head Coach Adam Gase. 

The big picture? You finish 6-10 and you had better shake things up, which is exactly what the Dolphins are doing. It's far too soon to make any final evaluations or second-guess any decisions. We need to see how it comes together, how many glaring needs are resolved and how the strategy of re-tooling this roster reaches fruition. Only then will we have a true feel of this team moving forward. 

For now, let's break down everything that became official on Wednesday, or at least will soon become official.

o The trades:As expected, the Dolphins sent Jarvis Landry to the Browns and acquired defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Both moves had been rumored for a while. My take: I hate to see Landry go, but it was necessary given the salary he was demanding and the current state of this team. As I said yesterday, if Landry were the final piece it would be different. But that simply isn't the case.

As for the trade for Quinn, my initial reaction is that the Dolphins got a steal, acquiring one of the league's premier pass rushers in the prime of his career, for a fourth round pick and a swap of sixth round picks. Quinn will make this defense instantly better and the prospect of pairing him with Cam Wake, Andre Branch and former No. 1 pick Charles Harris in passing situations is intriguing to say the least.

o The new receivers: Based on all reports, the team will soon sign -- perhaps as early as today - Albert Wilson (Chiefs) and Danny Amendola (Patriots). This will certainly help fortify this position in the aftermath of the Landry trade. Interesting that both came into the league as undrafted rookies. Amendola is 32; Wilson 25. My take: They each figure to fit in nicely in this offense, Amendola as a pure slot receiver with excellent hands and precise route running ability and Wilson both in the slot and on the outside, a nice mixture of sure hands and explosive speed packed into a 5-foot-9, 200-pound frame. Amendola is a proven player; Wilson's arrow is clearly pointing up. This isn't about replacing Landry as much as it is adding two impressive components to this offense.

o The fifth-year option: We weren't sure what was going to happen with right tackle Ja'Wuan James whether the Dolphins would exercise their fifth-year option on the former No. 1 pick. Now we know. James will be back with the Dolphins this season, thus tempering what would have been a major offseason need. My take: This was a prudent decision for many reasons. James is a good, solid player in the prime of his career, who missed much of last season with an injury. Certainly he needs to improve his consistency and he'll be the first to tell you that. But this is a player who cares deeply about taking his career to another level and the Dolphins have simply invested too much money and time not to be the benefactor of that improvement.

Departing: As expected, the Dolphins released three prominent veterans: defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, linebacker Lawrence Timmons and tight end Julius Thomas. Meanwhile, placekicker Cody Parkey agreed to terms with the Chicago Bears. My take: Suh was outstanding in his three seasons with the team and will certainly be missed. But for the betterment of the team, the Dolphins simply couldn't continue to carry his enormous salary. Timmons and Thomas simply didn't perform as hoped while Parkey's departure means that placekicker should now be added to the list of offseason priorities.

On to Day Two.

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