If you thought the Miami Dolphins were going to be quiet in March after their 2015 offseason bonanza failed to earn them a playoff appearance, you were quickly proven wrong as on the very first day of the free agency window with the legal tampering period the Fins were already putting all of their chips on the table. This time not by splashing money on the free agency market, but rather with a blockbuster deal to take two former Chip Kelly stalwarts off of the Philadelphia Eagles hands in a blockbuster trade.
The Dolphins traded for cornerback Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso, taking on two players who Kelly paid a substantial amount to bring into the fold with the Eagles. A deal that will give the Dolphins two interesting talents who had off seasons during the Kelly debacle in 2015, but will also take on a considerable amount of salary. Particularly with Maxwell, who signed a contract worth $63 million over six years last offseason to come to the Eagles.
While full details of the contract are not available as of late on Monday afternoon, it is assumed that the Dolphins will be offering some draft picks as well as taking on some salary to get two players who have the potential to be impact players for them in 2016.
The risk with the move for the Dolphins is taking on two players who both regressed mightily in 2015, and in the case of Maxwell taking on a considerable amount of salary to do so. Maxwell’s contract being one of the biggest albatrosses in the league, and his drop to 69 in Pro Football Focus’ grades for cornerbacks after getting that money from the Eagles providing a considerable risk that the Dolphins won’t get their value out of the former Seahawks man.
To make room for Maxwell, the Dolphins will be making room for Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes. Further adding to the gamble if Maxwell continues to prove to be a system cornerback who thrived in a strong unit with the Seahawks instead of playing like a player who is worth a $63 million contract.
In the case of Alonso, the Dolphins are only risking a small amount of salary on a player who perhaps has the most short-term upside if he can recover from a disappointing season coming back from a fully missed 2014 season. Alonso went from being the tenth best inside linebacker per PFF in 2013 during his rookie season with Buffalo and dropped to 49th in his lone year with the Eagles in 2015. Another massive decline that the Dolphins are hoping was more due to the mess in Philadelphia than individual regression from the two players they just decided to trade for.
Having Alonso in a contract year and a motivated Maxwell hoping to put his embarrassing play during the first year of his massive contract behind him is a move that brings a high ceiling if the two players make a comeback. Something that the Dolphins playoff hopes may hinge on as after spending big in 2015 to define their offseason, Miami’s 2016 will largely be defined by their blockbuster trade made in the early days of free agency.