We expect the Miami Dolphins to make further adjustments in the 2023 offseason. This is just logical because they still need to fill a few gaps. They can do this, of course, through the draft, but they may also wish to consider the trade market. Here we'll look at one perfect NFL trade the Dolphins must complete in the 2023 offseason to improve their depth moving forward.
Early last season, the Dolphins appeared to be one of the NFL's top teams. Keep in mind that they won eight of their first eleven games. However, they struggled toward the end, losing five of their last six games and barely making it to the playoffs. They were ultimately knocked out by the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa also being sidelined. Despite this, the Dolphins should not remain idle in the offseason. However, their current salary cap deficit of over $16 million has made it challenging to engage in free agency signing. As a result, they had to release some players and restructure contracts to free up some funds.
As of this writing, the Dolphins have already added several new players to their roster during the offseason. These include quarterback Mike White, wide receiver Braxton Berrios, linebacker David Long, and safety DeShon Elliott. Additionally, they have re-signed running backs Jeff Wilson, Raheem Mostert, and Myles Gaskin. These aren't enough, though. The Dolphins may still need to shore up some positions, especially at offensive tackle and cornerback. As such, looking at the trade market makes sense.
Let's look at the perfect trade the Miami Dolphins must complete in the 2023 offseason.
Cedrick Wilson, Jr. for picks
When the Dolphins signed Cedrick Wilson Jr., he was expected to be their second wide receiver behind Jaylen Waddle. Experts saw him as an ideal complement to Waddle, who is known for his speed Wilson himself was known to be quite quick. However, the team surprised everyone by acquiring Tyreek Hill just five days later. That move pushed Wilson down to the third wide receiver position. Despite this, he was still considered a potentially dangerous player to complement the two premier pass catchers.
However, Wilson Jr.'s performance did not exactly meet expectations in 2022. While Hill and Waddle were the standout performers, Wilson Jr. has only managed to catch just 12 total passes for 136 yards. He also failed to score a single touchdown.
There were talks of trading Wilson Jr. before last season's trade deadline. That would have resulted in a $1.75 million cap hit for this season and $2 million in 2023. Doing so would have saved Miami around $6 million by getting rid of his $8 million cap hit. That didn't happen, though.
Cedrick Wilson Jr. provides a spark for the @MiamiDolphins!
📺: #MIAvsBUF on CBS
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/zCGXBeNnOK pic.twitter.com/kfTTathhUT
— NFL (@NFL) January 15, 2023
Looking back, it seems everyone misjudged Wilson Jr.'s fit with the Dolphins. Of course, signing with the team before they acquired Hill was a major factor. That just made it impossible for Wilson to be their number two receiver. However, the fact is that the team received better production from Trent Sherfield. Take note that Miami signed him as a free agent for $1.1 million in 2022. Compare that to Wilson, who made $5.75 million in 2022. Given that Wilson is set to earn $8 million in 2023, it makes a lot of sense for the Dolphins to shop him around for cheaper players or future draft capital.
Yes, some may argue that having more depth in the wide receiver room is always beneficial. Still, the Dolphins could opt to move on from Wilson this offseason. Remember that Sherfield has moved on to the Buills, while River Cracraft is still onboard in Miami. He is certainly a cheaper WR3 option. Miami could trade Wilson for a late-round pick, with teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers all looking to improve their wide receiver rooms.
The reality is that Wilson's lack of productivity last season did not justify his high salary. Again, this year his salary is so problematic that it also makes it quite challenging for the Dolphins to find a willing trade partner.
Now, they could also just release Wilson. Doing that means they would save $1 million, but it would result in a $7 million hit in dead money. Currently, he counts for $8 million against the cap, which is just not a good situation for the Dolphins.
One positive aspect of this contract is that it flips in 2024, resulting in the Dolphins saving over $7 million. However, this does not help the team in the present season. The Dolphins could restructure Wilson's contract and ask him to accept a pay cut, but it is unlikely that he would agree to such a proposal. Moreover, restructuring his contract would only worsen future years.
Also, with only one year left on Wilson's deal, the Dolphins could just let it play out until after the season. Afterward, they can walk away next year with only $1 million in dead money. If the team decides to add another year to his deal, this could significantly reduce this year's cap, but at some point, they will have to eat his contract.
The most “active” option is to find someone willing to take a chance on Wilson Jr. while at the same time willing to give up draft assets. It's improbable, but it should not be impossible.