Dolphins’ ‘Dream Offseason Trade’ Involves AFC East Rival Jets

A Dolphins trade scenario targeted Jets left guard Laken Tomlinson.

Getty A Miami Dolphins trade scenario targeted New York Jets left guard Laken Tomlinson.

The Miami Dolphins have some major work to do on the interior of the offensive line if they’re going to compete for a Super Bowl in 2024.

Last year’s starting right guard Robert Hunt, Week 1 center Connor Williams, part-time left guard Isaiah Wynn, backup guard Robert Jones and depth center Jonotthan Harrison are all set to hit free agency in March — as will swing tackle Kendall Lamm on the outside — and Miami isn’t exactly flush with the cap space needed to re-sign them all.

With that in mind, Bleacher Report analyst Kristopher Knox suggested a creative solution labeled the Dolphins’ “dream offseason trade scenario” that targeted veteran left guard Laken Tomlinson. The only problem was that it involved working with a bitter AFC East rival in the New York Jets.

“While the Dolphins may—and probably should—address the line with the 21st pick in the draft, they’re not going to fill every hole in April,” Knox reasoned. “Unfortunately, the free-agent class isn’t exactly stacked with premium linemen.”

The NFL writer noted several factors, including Tomlinson being considered a potential cap casualty in 2024, his ridiculous durability having not missed a single game over the past five seasons and the fact that Tomlinson and Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel worked together once before in San Francisco. In other words, the Jets LG is a known scheme fit.

There are two hold-ups in this dream scenario, however, Tomlinson’s 2024 cap number and the Jets’ willingness to trade to a division rival.

Why Might the Jets Trade Laken Tomlinson to the Dolphins, & What Might He Cost Miami?

“Releasing or trading the 32-year-old would save the Jets $8.14 million in cap space,” Knox informed during his explanation. That’s one reason New York might be willing to trade with Miami, but it’s not the only one.

First off, Jets head coach Robert Saleh is close friends with McDaniel from their time with the 49ers organization. Both HCs have talked openly about this relationship in the past and so long as the two are leading these respective franchises, there is likely less animosity than usual between them.

Outside of durability, Tomlinson also has not lived up to expectations with the Jets after signing a $40 million contract in 2022. Since joining Gang Green, the veteran blocker has struggled mightily in the run game and his pass protection also took a nosedive in 2023 — per Pro Football Focus.

The Jets utilized that same San Francisco system that McDaniel has brought to Miami when Saleh first took over in 2021, but his initial offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel was let go after the 2022 campaign. Now, Tomlinson is playing for a new OC in Nathaniel Hackett and a new offensive line coach in Keith Carter and the results haven’t been great.

If the Jets can salvage a “Day 3 pick” for Tomlinson rather than release him — which is what Knox eventually proposes in his article — perhaps there’s a middle ground that works for both division rivals.

Knox concluded that “while Tomlinson’s $12.6 million base salary would be problematic for a Dolphins team facing a $51.2 million cap deficit, it’s likely less than what Miami would have to pay a starting-caliber guard on the open market.”

It would also make sense to extend Tomlinson after trading for him, effectively kicking the can down the road and lowering his $18.88 million cap hit in 2024.

Dolphins LT Terron Armstead Is Expected to Return for 2024 Season

There was one piece of good news for the Dolphins on February 21, left tackle Terron Armstead is not planning to retire in 2024.

According to Miami Herald insider Barry Jackson, “the full expectation is that Miami’s Terron Armstead will play next season.”

“I was re-assured yesterday,” Jackson relayed, noting that “the classy Armstead had left his future in doubt in [January] remarks” and that “his salary — already partially guaranteed — becomes fully guaranteed [on] March 16.”

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has his left tackle back in 2024.

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