Perhaps the most promising sign to emerge from the Miami Dolphins' 8-8 season was the progress of third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He set career highs in yards (4,045), touchdowns (27) and passer rating (92.8), as well as learned a new offensive system under first-year coordinator Bill Lazor.
But who will back up Tannehill in 2015? It's an important question the Dolphins must address this offseason.
Miami only carried two quarterbacks on its 53-man roster for most of last season, and respected veteran Matt Moore will be an unrestricted free agent in March. Moore, who made $4 million in 2014, should garner interest from quarterback-needy teams. He's a very good backup and a proven part-time starter over his eight-year career. The Dolphins need cap room and can't afford to pay Moore what he made the past two seasons.
I talked to Moore a couple of weeks ago and he was unsure of his return.
"If the situation is right, that will happen," Moore said. "If there's a situation elsewhere that is intriguing, it might also happen. ...I'm going to kind of feel my way through it."
Translation: If Moore gets an opportunity elsewhere to compete for a starting job and with a higher salary, he's most likely leaving Miami.
The Dolphins will explore cheaper alternatives at backup quarterback, especially now that Tannehill is a proven starter. The easiest route would be to draft an affordable, developmental quarterback in the middle or later rounds. They also could look for a veteran in free agency if they are willing to spend more.
Tannehill's durability has been stellar. He started 48 consecutive games since Miami drafted him No. 8 overall in 2012. But a backup quarterback is always one play away.
The Dolphins must find a decent player behind Tannehill who also fits within their budget.