The Hill-Waddle duo were an explosive tandem in 2022
Before Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle hit the field as teammates in an NFL game, Hill made a bold proclamation.
“If he and me are on the same side, same football field, teammates side by side,” Hill said, “it would be like a Lambo and a Ferrari.”
The comparison was apt in 2022. Hill, in his first season in Miami, broke multiple franchise records while Waddle emerged as one of the league’s top threats.
In the third in a series of positional reviews, the Miami Herald will examine the situation of the team’s wide receivers. The next step is the offensive line.
2022 in review
Hill and Waddle were one of the most dynamic tandems in the NFL in 2022.
The Dolphins’ big move to acquire Hill in a trade with the Chiefs and give him a record deal paid off. Hill, who was named a first-team All-Pro, set career records and broke franchise records for receptions and receiving yards. Meanwhile, Waddle led the NFL in receiving yards.
Although Cedrick Wilson Jr. was drafted as a prized free agent, it was Trent Sherfield who became the team’s No. 3 option, a trusted receiver for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and an unselfish blocker.
Thin: Hill was arguably the most electric player in 2022. Any questions about his productivity away from Patrick Mahomes were quickly silenced; his 119 catches and 1,170 receiving yards were second only to Vikings Justin Jefferson.
Contract: Hill, who turns 29 in March, is entering the second year of a four-year extension he signed in 2022. He has a cap of $31,450,000, the most on the team.
Thin: Hill’s presence didn’t stop Waddle from improving his rookie numbers, including increases in receiving yards (1,356) and touchdown catches (8). His 18.1 yards per reception led the NFL.
Contract: Waddle, who turns 25 in November, is entering the third year of a five-year rookie contract, with a team option for the fifth season. It has a cap hit of $7,387,090.
Thin: Amid the Dolphins’ free-agency madness, Sherfield’s signing went a bit unnoticed. But he joined head coach Mike McDaniel from San Francisco and over time became the team’s third receiver. Sherfield, who played nearly 57.1% of offensive snaps, set a record number of receptions (30), receiving yards (417) and touchdowns (2).
Contract: Sherfield, who turns 27 in February, is heading to unrestricted free agency.
Cedrick Wilson Jr.
Thin: Wilson signed a three-year, $22 million contract with the Dolphins last offseason and was set to be Miami slots wide receiver. But the trade for Hill knocked him down the depth chart and then Sherfield assumed the role of No. 3 receiver. Wilson played just 15% of offensive snaps and caught 12 passes, his fewest receptions since 2019.
Contract: Wilson, who turns 28 in November, is entering the second year of a three-year contract. It has a cap hit of $8,000,000.
Thin: Cracraft, who had a stint with the 49ers, was the first player signed after McDaniel was hired as head coach. He started the season on the practice squad, but was signed to the 53-man roster in September. Cracraft caught two touchdowns in the first month of the season and finished with nine catches for 102 yards, all career highs.
Contract: Cracraft, who turns 29 in November, is heading to unrestricted free agency.
Thin: Ezukanma, the team’s fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, flashed through training camp and preseason with a combination of physicality and speed. But he was inactive in all but two games, including the playoffs, and finished the season with a catch for three yards. Wide receivers coach Wes Welker said Ezukanma spent much of his rookie season learning the F position after learning the Z position in training camp and preseason, as well as learning the F position. to adapt to long game calls different from the signal-based system he had in college.
Contract: Ezukanma, 23, is entering the second year of a four-year rookie contract. It has a cap hit of $1,051,248.
1. Is Hill restructuring his contract?
The Dolphins need cap relief and can get it by restructuring a few contracts with inflated successes. According to Over the Cap, the Dolphins can lower Hill’s $30 million cap and free up nearly $19 million by converting much of his $16 million base salary and additional bonuses into a signing bonus. spread over the rest of his contract. It seems like an obvious solution for a player the Dolphins hope to keep for the foreseeable future.
2. Will Wilson make the team in 2023?
Although his first season in Miami did not go as he expected, Wilson never made a public complaint about his role and said he never considered asking for a trade. But given the emergence of Sherfield — and to a lesser extent, Cracraft — Ezukanma’s potential and the Dolphins’ tight cap situation, Wilson’s contract offload can’t be ignored.
The problem for the Dolphins is that $5 million of Wilson’s $7 million base salary is guaranteed, making a trade the more likely path than simply cutting him. If Miami cuts Wilson, the team will save a maximum of $2 million with a dead money charge of $6 million. If Wilson is traded before June 1, the Dolphins would save $6 million. This figure increases to $7 million with a designation after June 1.
3. Does Ezukanma find a role after a quiet rookie season?
During the offseason, Welker warned of the transition college receivers face in the NFL. The hope for the Dolphins is that after a year of mostly redshirting, Ezukanma will return with a better knowledge of the playbook and be able to play in multiple positions. Welker said Ezukanma is Hill’s primary replacement in 2022, but is it possible he’ll work in a slot role in 2023?
The Dolphins’ wide receiver was one of the strongest on the team in 2022 and Sherfield in particular was a bargain with a league minimum base salary. It makes more sense for Miami to bring back Sherfield and Cracraft, who have solid knowledge of the playbook, with a raise.
DOLPHIN POSITION ADVISORY
RB: Will Miami be looking for another upgrade at running back?
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