2016: Releasing Offensive Lineman Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas

Tannehill being sacked

Back in 2016, the first year under then head coach Adam Gase, the Dolphins finished the year 10-6 and even made the playoffs. However, it was a bumpy ride, filled with roster cuts, divisive color rush uni’s and major injuries – and of course Jay Ajayi.

One of the bigger headlines of the year, though, came on October 11, 2016 when the team cut Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner and Jamil Douglas – two of whom had just started for the team that past Sunday.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A Little Backstory

Adam Gase, whom Stephen Ross hoped would become the next Don Shula, had a lot of power in Miami. Sure, Mike Tannenbaum was the executive VP of Football Operations and Chris Grier was the General Manager, but Adam Gase had final say over the 53-man roster. (Yes, it’s confusing)

He wanted his guys and seemingly wanted to assert his authority whenever possible – never fearing the need for sudden change. He had been known for believing in accountability and the opportunity to deliver on that was upon him, and early.

David Santiago-Miami Herald
David Santiago-Miami Herald

Loss to the Titans

That past Sunday, two of the teams starting offensive lineman – Branden Albert (LT) and Laremy Tunsil (Hero, LG) – couldn’t start against the Tennessee Titans. Albert was out due to an illness and Tunsil was out due to an injury sustained falling in the shower.

Keep your jokes to yourself – remember, without Tunsil we wouldn’t have Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Bradley Chubb.

The offensive line had already been struggling that season and things got worse that Sunday, when starting in both Albert and Tunsil’s place were Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner, former 3rd round picks in 2013 and 2014 respectively, were thrust into the starting lineup.

The offensive line allowed 6 sacks for a total loss of 42 yards in the 30-17 home loss while allowing starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill less time then he needed to command the offense. Tannehill, to his credit, threw for zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Aftermath

Two days after the loss, Adam Gase payed down the gauntlet and cut both offensive lineman Thomas and Turner, alongside 2015 4th rounder Jamil Douglas. It was noteworthy – teams don’t typically make a habit of cutting three offensive lineman at the same time, particularly back-to-back-to-back day 3 draft picks on rookie contract, two of whom had just started that weekend.

I wasn’t sure how to feel about it honestly – I was somehow both excited that we had a coach that wouldn’t tolerate inadequate line play, however, we would find out over time that Adam Gase really didn’t have any answers. I also didn’t love the idea of cutting ties with so many recent draft picks – and in hindsight, with a historical hit rate of ~30% on Day 3 picks, it was inevitable one of the three would go on to do something post-Miami.

So, how did Thomas, Turner and Douglas turn out?

Offensive Lineman Billy Turner
Courtesy Billy Turner / Packers.com

Dallas Thomas – this was effectively the end of the line for Thomas, with tryouts for the Eagles never resulting in a roster spot. Thomas is out of football.

Billy Turner – Turner has started 63 games, out of a possible 115 games. He was largely a starter for the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers from 2018-2021 and is still an active NFL lineman.

Jamil Douglas – remained in the league through the 2021 season with 5 starts in 2019 for the Tennessee Titans being his only starts since his release. Douglas is out of the league.

Needless to say, the team missed the mark by cutting Billy Turner – at least over the next few years. Did it spur action from the offensive line and result in better play, possibly helping the team reach the postseason? The truth is we’ll never know. What I can tell you is that I’ll never forget is a head coach cutting three lineman in one press release – that I can assure you.

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