Dolphins sign Flowers. And exploring the tough imminent decisions looming for the front office

In a final opportunity to make their case for employment, several on-the-bubble Dolphins did precisely that on Saturday night against Philadelphia.

And in the process, they made looming roster decisions increasingly difficult for team management.

Instead of starting to release players before Tuesday’s 4 pm deadline to get to the 53-man limit, the Dolphins instead added an 81st player on Sunday, agreeing to terms with veteran defensive end/outside linebacker Trey Flowers.

With Andrew Van Ginkel’s status for the opener uncertain because he had his appendix removed, the Dolphins turned to Flowers, who had 24 tackles and 1.5 sacks in seven games for the Lions last season. He had two sacks in seven games and five starts for Detroit in 2020, after producing seven sacks in 15 games for Detroit in 2019.

Flowers, 29, was a former fourth-round pick of the Patriots who spent four seasons with New England and the past three with Detroit. Until Sunday, he had remained unsigned since Detroit cut him on March 16. Flowers worked out for the Dolphins on Wednesday.

Even before Flowers agreed to terms, a tough call awaited among backup ends or linebackers among Brennan Scarlett (who has been out with an injury for two weeks), Porter Gustin (strong camp), Cameron Goode (seventh-round rookie has flashed) and Darius Hodge (longer odds). Only one of those four might make the team after Flowers’ signing.

Van Ginkel is expected back for the opener or Week 2.

A look at other positions where difficult calls await, particularly after Saturday’s 48-10 thrashing of the Eagles:

Third and possibly fourth running backs (that’s in addition to fullback Alec Ingold, who likely will be on the team): This might have been an easy decision if Sony Michel had a strong camp. But he didn’t. He ran 9 times for 13 yards in games and his practice work was limited at times and uneven at other teams.

Meanwhile, 2021 starter Myles Gaskin made a case by rushing 14 times for 78 yards (5.6 average) in the preseason. Ahmed ran 11 times for 50 yards (4.5 per carry) in preseason and caught a pass for 28 yards on Saturday.

Gaskin would be the most expensive ($2.5 million, none of it guaranteed), Ahmed the cheapest ($895,000, none guaranteed). For Michel, the Dolphins have already guaranteed $500,000 of his $2.1 million. If money weren’t a factor, Gaskin would likely be the best choice. But money is often a factor.

Sixth receiver: Five jobs are set with Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Cedrick Wilson Jr., Eric Ezukanma and very likely, Trent Sherfield. The issue now is whether the Dolphins keep River Cracraft – or less likely, someone else, as a sixth receiver – or opt to keep only five.

Cracraft dropped a pass Saturday but caught a touchdown, got open several times and caught four passes for 54 yards. Lynn Bowden handled first-half returns for a second week in a row but lost two yards on his one punt return and again didn’t play offensive snaps until the second half.

The odds are against Bowden and Preston Williams and Mohamad Sanu, and Miami could try to sneak impressive Mississippi rookie Braylon Sanders to the practice squad.

Eighth and ninth offensive linemen: Guard Robert Jones and center Michael Deiter should be two of the backups. Tougher calls are guard Solomon Kindley and Greg Little, who led all Dolphins offensive players in snaps Saturday (40 apiece, or 62 percent). Little played well in his preseason debut, better than Larnel Coleman had in previous weeks.

If Miami opts not to keep Little or Coleman as a No. 3 tackles, it could claim a tackle off waivers from the 49ers (who have good depth at the position) or another team.

Backup safety besides Eric Rowe: Elijah Campbell made a case for the No. 4 job with his second interception in the preseason. But the Dolphins also value the special teams work of Clayton Fejedelem.

Fejedelem restructured his contract, and $1 million of his $1.7 million is guaranteed, compared to none of Campbell’s $895,000.

Keeping five safeties might be a luxury they cannot afford, unless Rowe’s shoulder injury – which forced him out of Saturday’s game – proves problematic.

Backup cornerback: Noah Igbonoghene started and had a pass breakup; he appears more likely than not to stick, as a fourth/fifth corner with Keion Crossen behind Xavien Howard, Byron Jones and Nik Needham.

Undrafted rookie Kader Kohou played the most snaps of any Dolphin on Saturday (40) and played well, making his case to stick as a sixth corner. If Jones (on the physically unable to perform list) isn’t cleared for the opener, Kohou’s chances improve.

Backup defensive tackle: Benito Jones had a tackle for loss on Saturday, and rookie Ben Stille flashed again. Both had strong Augusts, but the question is whether the Dolphins prefer the veteran experience – and career body of work – of John Jenkins.

Backup inside linebacker: Sam Eguavoen – who had another strong August – seems secure as a fifth inside linebacker behind Jerome Baker, Elandon Roberts, Duke Riley and Channing Tindall. That puts Calvin Munson in jeopardy.

THIS AND THAT

▪ Skylar Thompson’s 138.4 passer rating and five touchdowns led all NFL quarterbacks in the preseason. He seems very likely to make the 53.

▪ Please check back for news from Mike McDaniel’s news conference at 3:45 on Sunday.

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