Adam Gase has spoken about how sometimes unpopular decisions are necessary.
Mike Tannenbaum has spoken about how it’s not possible to keep everyone.
The Miami Dolphins are in the process of turning over their locker room. And that process is ramping up today with the official start of the free agency discussions window at noon.
It just so happens that two of Miami’s most popular players — actually the two most popular according to a past unscientific Daily Dolphin poll — have been jettisoned since the midpoint of last season.
Jay Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles on Halloween.
Jarvis Landry will officially be traded to the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday, the first day of the new league year.
And though he was not quite as popular among all Dolphins fans, talented Ndamukong Suh is also about to be deleted from the roster.
Let’s imagine that you had told a Dolphins fan on the morning of the playoff game at Pittsburgh on Jan. 8, 2017, that all three of these players (especially Ajayi and Landry) would be gone in 1 year, 2 months and 7 days.
Would anyone have believed it?
Well, they should have if they follow the NFL closely enough.
Things change. Rosters change. Stars leave.
Unfortunately for all the Dolphins fans with #23 and #14 jerseys — well, back of the closet.
Ajayi and Landry have a few things in common. And perhaps that’s part of why they’re both gone.
It is true that Miami would not have wanted to pay Ajayi whatever it would have taken to extend him long-term. (I asked Eagles head honcho Howie Roseman about a long-term play on Ajayi at the NFL Scouting Combine and didn’t get a direct answer.)
It is also true, obviously, that Miami did not want to pay Landry what we can only assume Cleveland (and at least few others) would have/will be willing to pay to lock him up long-term.
Ajayi and Landry were also highly emotional, sometimes volatile personalities.
Gase, when both players were on the roster, even lumped the three of them together in terms of needing to all monitor how their emotions can be perceived.
Now, those two players are gone.
This presents some problems in terms of who is going to deliver energy and emotion to the offense that is needed, not just on game day, but also in training camp and during practice.
Damien Williams, for example, is a candidate, but he is a free agent, and does not currently possess star status.
Which brings us to Landry and Ajayi. They hold star status. They are former Pro Bowlers.
They are now former Dolphins Pro Bowlers.
And it is very reasonable to wonder if the organization felt that, at times, acts of immaturity had a detrimental impact on team results.
Miami, like any NFL team, wants players who possess great skill, but also serviceable emotional intelligence.
Fans? Fans like stats. And spectacle. And fun.
And no doubt, part of Landry and Ajayi’s popularity came from the fact they produced all of that.
So, who is left? Which Dolphins jerseys are we most likely to see in the stands for the 2018 home opener?
After the Landry trade news broke, the Daily Dolphin took to Twitter to ask a small group of Dolphins fans (thanks to the 2,893 who voted) who is now their most popular player. At the time, Suh was included because, well, he hasn’t been let go yet.
And yes, it is fair to wonder if Suh’s at-times volatile personality and actions played a role in his dismissal.
But back to the point. Who’s left to root for?
According to Dolphins fans who contributed to our poll — Cam Wake.
Wake, the 36-year-old defensive end, almost always seems to do everything right. And he, of course, has been around forever.
Wake garnered 41 percent of the vote. That running back Kenyan Drake (with seven career NFL starts) is the second most-popular Dolphin in our poll (26 percent) tells you something about how much things have changed since that playoff game.
For the record, Reshad Jones (18 percent) was third. And Suh (15 percent) was fourth.
And now Suh is on his way out.
That #93 jersey? Back of the closet — with the others.