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The Miami Dolphins have an issue at linebacker(s)

Senior Bowl week, the acknowledged kickoff to draft season, is behind us and it should be noted that although the Miami Dolphins coaches were not present for the practices or game, the staff will watch and study all the practices and the game via their tablets or computers in the coming days.

And during that study, the linebacker position will be of particular interest.

Indeed, the linebacker position will be a particular interest throughout this offseason until that moment when the Dolphins feel they've resolved their linebacker problems.


About those problems (plural): The entire Earth recognizes the Dolphins have to find a starting caliber linebacker this offseason. But the truth is the team will be looking for two -- TWO! -- starting caliber linebackers this offseason.

One of those will be a middle linebacker. The Dolphins had Kelvin Sheppard as their starter in 2015 and he proved to be solid enough. But an upgrade is necessary here and the team recognizes that.

The Dolphins also have questions on the outside. Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins were also solid in 2015. But neither was necessarily good.

Misi, who is scheduled to cost $4.878 million against the 2016 cap, had 59 solo tackles and one pass defensed in 2015. That's it. He also missed three games due to injury and that has been a recurring theme for Misi. He's missed eight starts the past two seasons and as Bill Parcells once famously said, durability and availability are abilities.

Misi's salary and health question marks hang a target on him as a possible cap casualty. The Dolphins can save $3.72 million by parting ways before June 1. As a post-June 1 cut, the Dolphins could save $4.3 million against the cap by cutting Misi.

Jenkins missed three starts last season and was no more productive than Misi. He finished the season with 50 solo tackles, three passes defensed and a forced fumble. The problem with Jenkins is he didn't improve on a 2014 season in which he had 83 solos, 3.5 sacks, a pass defensed and two forced fumbles. So regression.

But Jenkins is scheduled to cost only $793,000 against the cap in 2016. Unlike Misi, he is not a bigger ticket player. He is still on his rookie contract.

The Dolphins, by the way, are interested in getting bigger, stronger, faster at linebacker in 2016. Their linebackers got pushed around and were slow-ish to the ball in 2015.

Misi, at 6-3 and 254 pounds, is a massive 4-3 outside linebacker. That's great. But he's not necessarily quick or fast. Jenkins at 6-foot and 243 isn't small but he isn't big-boned nor exceedingly quick or fast, either.

I believe the Dolphins will try to replace Sheppard and Misi this offseason and deal with the size issue on Jenkins because he's younger and relatively inexpensive.

But ... if the team replaces only one starting linebacker this offseason instead of two, something went wrong.