Breaking down Monday's moves

Monday's news that the Dolphins have released four former starters, as well as five other players, might not have been overly surprising, but it's always eye-catching when a team gets rid of so many high-profile players at the same time. For the Dolphins, it's the beginning of what promises to be a significant roster transformation. But was it a good beginning?

Let's start with nose tackle Keith Traylor, the only one of the four former starters whose salary wasn't an issue. Traylor was scheduled to make $830,000 next season, actually a bargain for a starter.

The issue with Traylor clearly was his age and his wearing down following years and years of pounding in the trenches. Traylor will be 39 at the start of the 2008 season, and his ability to play at a high level clearly isn't what is used to be.

When healthy, Traylor is a very good run stopper, but he also wore down in games and during the season during his time with the Dolphins.

Traylor also was involved in an incident on the team plane following the game at New England last December, and he wasn't with the team for the season finale as a result. But somehow, we're thinking that wasn't the reason he was cut.

What his departure means is the need for a nose tackle becomes even more pressing if the Dolphins are to play a 3-4 -- Bill Parcells' defense of choice -- next season. Because there wasn't anybody on the roster behind Traylor last year who really fit the mold.

When it comes to Trent Green, Marty Booker and L.J. Shelton, financial considerations clearly were in play.

Booker was scheduled to make $4.3 million next season, Shelton's salary was scheduled to be $3 million and Green was to make $2.8 million.

None of those players figured to be able to contribute nearly enough to justify those salaries.

Now, as it always the case in situations like these, maybe one or more of those players could be brought back at a lower salary.

For sure, it's difficult to envision any of them getting anywhere close to what they were supposed to earn from another team.

And by releasing Green and Booker, the Dolphins have left themselves ridiculously thin at both quarterback and wide receiver.

With Green gone, the only quarterbacks signed for 2008 are John Beck and Matt Baker. Parcells' M.O. always has been to go with a veteran quarterback, which means he'll have to find one in a trade or in a very weak free agent market, whose biggest name is Daunte Culpepper.

If somehow Parcells and GM Jeff Ireland fail to come up with a veteran QB, it wouldn't be a shock to see them talk to Green again to see if he'd want to come back at a lower salary.

But that's clearly not the preference.

As for Booker, his departure leaves Ted Ginn Jr., Derek Hagan, Greg Camarillo and Kerry Reed. Not terribly comforting.

So, yes, Booker could get a call back if he doesn't sign with another team. But, clearly, the Dolphins are prepared to move on without him.

As for Shelton, the former first-round pick is a decent right tackle, but he's not a $3 million-a-year type of guy. The Dolphins, though, also cut Anthony Alabi on Monday, which leaves them with Vernon Carey and Cory Lekkerkerker at tackle and little else.

So maybe Shelton is another one who gets a call back if he doesn't go elsewhere.

Among the lesser-known casualties on Monday were Alabi and Joe Toledo, two former draft picks of recent years.

Alabi actually started the first three preseason games last summer before giving way to Shelton, although the feeling all along was that then-Coach Cam Cameron was trying to send Shelton a message. His getting released tells you what the Dolphins' new regime thinks about his ability.

As for Toledo, he looked good in the little training camp work he got as a rookie in 2005, but he then got injured and hasn't been able to stay healthy since. Who knows what kind of player he could have become -- or could become with another team?

Those moves, however, aren't likely to be the only ones made by the Dolphins this offseason.

There might be bigger moves ahead. One thing for sure, it's going to be one interesting offseason.

Monday was just the start.


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him every day, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.