Pure and simple, Burnett is a clear upgrade over Crowder.
The argument could be made that the Dolphins could have kept Crowder as a backup, but that's not always a smooth transition considering Crowder had started all six of his seasons in the NFL.
In talking about the move, Sparano said Saturday he went for a little more flexibility and "some coverage aspects."
Here's what Sparano didn't say that we'll say for him: Burnett makes plays.
Crowder, always praised for his football IQ, made a lot of tackles in his time with the Dolphins, but he rarely made game-changing plays.
Really, outside of his interception of Tom Brady to clinch a December 2009 victory over New England, how many big plays do you remember him making? That interception, incidentally, is the only one of his career.
You can add to that 2.5 career sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. That's a grand total of 9.5 "big plays" in six seasons. And that's in 82 games, 74 of them starts.
While starting 16 games for San Diego last season, Burnett recorded six sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Do the math. That's 10 big plays. In one year.
Taking the argument further, in four seasons as a backup in Dallas — repeating, as a backup — Burnett had 10 big plays (4 sacks, 1 INT, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery). That's more than Crowder had in six seasons AS A STARTER.
On top of that, Burnett has missed only five games in his the last four seasons; Crowder has missed 14. So durability also is in Burnett's favor. Really, there only area where Crowder has an edge is the age, but only by one year (Crowder is 27, Burnett is 28).
Crowder was among the most popular players on the Dolphins and he'll be missed by teammates, fans and media members alike. But there's no question the Dolphins instantly got better at inside linebacker with this swap.