First Farewells: Most Surprising Moves from the Miami Dolphins’ First-Wave of Cuts

The Miami Dolphins’ began their offseason cuts this week, and were required to have the roster trimmed to 75 players by 4:00pm on Tuesday. While some players are sitting in football purgatory, knowing they will be cut soon, others must have been blindsided by the news that they were released from the team. Here is our list of the most surprising moves of the Dolphins’ first wave of cuts.

Brandon Fields, P:

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This is obviously the most shocking on Miami’s moves this week, parting ways with Pro Bowl punter Brandon Fields. Fields had been an exceptional player for Miami since he joined the team as a 7th round pick in 2007. The Dolphins wanted to go in a new direction this season, and will use Matt Darr as the team’s punter for 2015/16.

While this move is surprising, it is not completely unanticipated. Fields’ contract had him at a $4 million salary cap hit next season, which is very high for a punter. His body of work with Miami was very impressive, but the team had been testing out Matt Darr, and liked what they saw. This move reminded me a bit of the Sturgis over Carpenter decision from a few years ago, but kickers do not carry the same importance that punters do in terms of scoring. And hopefully Miami needs a punter much less in 2015 than they have in years past.

Above all else Brandon Fields had a great tenure in Miami, and gave Dolphins’ fans 7 seasons of quality play. There will always be a huge amount of support for Fields in South Florida.

Gerell Robinson, TE:

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It is not surprising that the Miami Dolphins decided to cut one of their five tight ends. The surprise is that the choice was Gerell Robinson over the other options at the position. Robinson had a solid preseason, and made a huge play for the Dolphins against Carolina, displaying his ability as a receiver. Robinson did not have much potential as a blocker or really on special teams, but if Miami were looking to hold onto another receiving tight end it would have been Robinson in all likelihood.

Now the question is which of the Dolphins’ tight ends will make the 53-man roster. Obviously Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims are locks, but the choice now comes down to Jake Stoneburner, Tim Semisch, or none of the above. Semisch was signed mostly for his athleticism, and he hasn’t showed much football ability yet in Miami. Stoneburner has been here before, so it seems that he has an inside track to the job due to his familiarity with the playbook and solid preseason performance. The team could also keep an eye on the free agent wire and attempt to find a third tight end there. While it isn’t the most impactful position (third tight end), it was still surprising to see Robinson cut before the other tight ends on the Dolphins’ roster.

LaRon Byrd, WR:

NFL: Miami Dolphins-OTA

Byrd’s release is surprising for a similar reason to Robinson’s. There are receivers on the roster who have showed even less than Byrd, such as Cobi Hamilton or Christion Jones. The difference? Special teams.

This is when we start to see the impact of special teams on the final roster decisions. The Dolphins are starting to narrow down who will make the team largely based on the recommendation of special teams coach Darren Rizzi. Miami might have also released Byrd to give him a chance to sign on with another team, much like what they did with Michael Preston last week. The Dolphins are going to have a tough decision balancing who will help as a receiver and which players are worth a spot based on the special teams boost.

What to Expect Going Forward:

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As we previously discussed, special teams will now become the deciding factor for many young players on Miami’s roster. The vast majority of the spots on the 53-man squad are decided, but there are still young men fighting for their livelihood. While the fourth preseason game doesn’t contain much action for the starters, you’ll see plenty of players who give this matchup all of their effort, knowing it could be their last shot to make the team.

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