As we all know, the NFL is a business; some players who you enjoy watching or think that they’ll make the roster, sadly, won’t earn that luxury. For the Miami Dolphins, this comes around for five-year veteran wide receiver/returner Jakeem Grant. There are only 53 spots on this roster, and there may not be one for Grant.
With that said, should the Miami Dolphins move on from Grant, and find someone else to take over the kick/punt return duties? Let’s find out now!
Disclaimer: I will break down both sides of the case (whether they should or shouldn’t) and then give my final verdict.
The Dolphins Should Move On From Jakeem Grant
Firstly, the Dolphins have multiple skilled receivers already. WRs Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns were COVID-19 opt-outs last season; with them still being under contract, they will fight hard for their spot on the roster, and it looks like one of them is likely to earn it. We also mustn’t forget that the Dolphins drafted Jaylen Waddle and signed Will Fuller V as well; so, spots for WR are limited.
Preston Williams, a UDFA from Colorado St, has shown promise in 2019 and 2020, but the injury bug bites him in the middle of the season; from the looks of it, he will make the roster. DeVante Parker exists too, and we know he’ll be the WR2. Lynn Bolden Jr is a developing prospect as well. As stated in the last paragraph, the Dolphins have multiple skilled receivers already; only so many can make the final cuts.
Secondly, the Dolphins could easily replace Grant, if necessary. This comes from two rookies they drafted this year in Jaylen Waddle and Jevon Holland. Let’s start with Holland; he was utilized as a punt returner at Oregon. In 2019, he had 16 returns for 244 yards that added up to a 15.3 yards per punt return average; he didn’t score a touchdown, but he ranked second in punt return yards and sixth in yards per punt return average.
Jaylen Waddle was utilized as both a kick and punt return. In punt returning, he had 38 returns for 733 yards with two touchdowns. In 2019, he was ranked fourth in punt return touchdowns (1), first in punt return yards (487), and first in yards per punt return average (24.4) throughout the NCAA. In kick returning, he had nine career returns for 214 yards and one touchdown; his most productive year was in 2019 with five returns for 175 yards and one touchdown.
Finally, Grant doesn’t truly produce much as a receiver for what he’s being paid. While he had career highs in catches (36), yards (373), and catch percentage (66.7%), that still is not a lot, especially in 14 games. But yes, he was down in the depth chart, but also recall he’s supposed to be paid $3.6 million in base salary this season and $4.661 million, overall.
That’s a good chunk of money for a WR5. If Grant doesn’t contribute on the receiving end, his time could be done in Miami after the preseason.
The Dolphins Shouldn’t Move On From Jakeem Grant
For starters, Grant is an excellent returner, whether it’s as a kick or punt returner. He proved this in 2020 as a valued punt returner, where he had 29 returns for 330 yards and a touchdown. His 330 yards ranked him second amongst the league, right behind Patriots’ punt returner Gunner Olszewski (346 yards), and earned him second-team All-Pro honors. He could have yet another stellar year as a punt returner, and make the Dolphins’ special teams as lethal as ever.
Secondly, he adds versatility to the Dolphins’ roster. While we all know how good of a returner he is, as described before, he also thrives in the slot; being undersized keeps him there, but he does well, using his speed to give him a decent release, that gives him space to cut and make a good catch. He even uses his height disadvantage to an advantage by easily shedding tackles, which he did nine times last season.
With how everything stands, I believe, sadly, that Grant will be departing ways with the Dolphins, whether it be through trade or just releasing him. There are too many raw talents at WR that are better than Grant at the receiver spot, a decent amount of choices for replacement at the return spots, and the Dolphins can have only so many people on the roster. It hurts to say for what he’s done for the team and the Miami community, but at the end of the day, the NFL is a business; you have to make tough choices to succeed.
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