NFL free agency begins on Tuesday, March 12. Teams have a little less than a week left (until March 4 to be exact) to use the franchise tag on their own unrestricted free agents.
As of today, the Miami Dolphins have more than $40 million in cap space. As a result, the Dolphins are expected to be active in this year’s free agent market.
Earlier this month, I discussed which of their own free agents the Miami Dolphins should keep. With that thinking in mind, I will now lay out the team’s overall needs and which players I think they should pursue in free agency. As an aside, keep in mind that any of the free agents mentioned can be hit with the franchise tag and kept with their respective team.
Miami Dolphins Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Offensive Tackle, Cornerback, Pass Rusher
1. Wide Receiver
Everyone knows that the Miami Dolphins need to acquire a number one receiver for young quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Green Bay’s Greg Jennings, Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe and Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace could be among the free agents at the position. Like with any free agent, each player has question marks surrounding their game. As I mentioned earlier this month, I would re-sign Brian Hartline and have him as the team’s number two receiver. This means that the Dolphins must either sign a free agent wide receiver or draft one early in the upcoming NFL Draft. As previously mentioned, the Dolphins will have a lot of cap space so they could get into a bidding war for, say, Mike Wallace. I think general manager Jeff Ireland will do just that.
2. Offensive Tackle
Left tackle Jake Long is an unrestricted free agent. It does not seem likely that he will be back but if fellow tackles Branden Albert, Ryan Clady and Sebastian Vollmer all hit free agency then Long’s market could be very light. I definitely do not want the Dolphins to give him any kind of big long-term deal since Long has become injury prone but I could conceivably see him returning on a smaller deal after his price tag drops. If Long does not return, the Dolphins will likely shift Jonathan Martin to left tackle full time and draft a right tackle. I cannot see them spending money on any other free agents at the position.
I do not expect free agent starter Sean Smith to return as I feel that he will go to the highest bidder and that should not be Miami. The Dolphins need playmakers in the secondary and Smith has simply not been one. He has also been too inconsistent to be counted on as a number one corner. I would rather the Dolphins draft cornerbacks but I would not be surprised to see them make a play for a cornerback like Jacksonville’s Derek Cox whose market may not be high because of injuries.
4. Pass Rusher
The Miami Dolphins need to find a pass rusher to complement Cameron Wake who has not gotten a lot of help out of Jared Odrick. I would shift Odrick inside to defensive tackle regardless of whether or not the team re-signs free agent Randy Starks. A lot of defensive ends could be available in free agency and two names I would keep an eye on are Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson and Tampa Bay’s Michael Bennett. Both players had break out years in 2012. I would not pursue any of the other free agents at the position as they will either want too much money (see: Cliff Avril and Paul Kruger) or are too old (Dwight Freeney, Osi Umenyiora). If the Dolphins cannot get a pass rusher in free agency then it is imperative to pick one early in April’s NFL Draft.
In the end, teams do not win in the NFL through building their team through free agency. As a result, I do not want the Miami Dolphins to just go out and splurge. The team needs to make calculated moves so that they can take care of other needs in the draft because building through the draft is how you win in the NFL nowadays. Here’s to hoping the Dolphins do just that.
Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/ and http://www.nfl.com/freeagency/story/0ap1000000138649/article/2013-nfl-free-agency-unofficial-list-of-2013-nfl-free-agents