The Super Bowl is over, and we are just one month away from the new league year. (March 14). It feels like a long month, and to be honest, the next couple of months feel like the longest months of the season.
Free Agency is not where teams should build their rosters for future success, however, teams can get quality players at a cap friendly price to fill voids on the roster. If this done correctly, teams can draft based on BPA, well that at least what the Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier want to do. With that said, let's look at the team "needs" heading into free agency.
Team Needs: Guard, Tackle, Linebacker, Safety, Tight End, Cornerback (Depth), Running back (depth), Wide Receiver (if Landry is gone)
First, I'm going to give you names that are upcoming free agents that are under 30 and fit this team’s systems on offense and defense. I Will always start with the Dolphins' own free agents that I think should be brought back or considered.
Running Backs: Damien Williams (MIA), Alfred Morris (DAL), Carlos Hyde (SF), Jeremy Hill (CIN)
Wide Receivers: Jarvis Landry (MIA), Kendall Wright (CHI)
Tight Ends: Virgil Green (DEN), Crockett Gillmore (BAL)
Tackles: Tom Compton (CHI), James Hurst (BAL)
Guards: Andrew Norwell (CAR), Jack Mewhort (IND)
Centers: Ryan Jenson (BAL), Daniel Kilgore(SF), Brian Schwenke (TEN), Travis Swanson (DET)
Defensive Ends: William Hayes (MIA), Terrence Fede (MIA), Ziggy Ansah (DET), Kony Ealy (NYJ)
Linebackers: Tahir Whitehead (DET), Nigel Bradham (PHI), Emmanuel Lamur (MIN)
Cornerbacks: Bobby McCain (MIA), Trumaine Johnson (LAR), Kyle Fuller (CHI), Justin Bethel (ARI)
Safeties: Michael Thomas (MIA), Lamarcus Joyner (LAR), Kenny Vaccarro (NO), Tavon Wilson (DET), Eric Reid (SF)
I went through the list of every free agent in 2018, and these are the names that I feel are good fits and value for the Dolphins. Now I am not saying all of these players should be signed, but these are names that will not cost a huge contract, and they all fit what the team wants to do. With that said, here is a scenario I would like to see:
Mock Miami Off-Season
Players not returning:
Mike Pouncey: His cap hit, and injury makes him a candidate for restructure or to be cut. This is just hypothetical
Ja'Waun James: The coaching staff rescinded his 5th year option. He doesn't fit the mold of what they are looking for at RT.
Julius Thomas: His contract is far too high, and his ability has diminished with that back injury. I don't expect him back
Lawrence Timmons: His final year is no longer guaranteed, and he has shown that he wants to be back in Pitt. I do not see him coming back for the final year of his contract.
Jarvis Landry (Let's do worst case scenario and be prepared): I think his price from his agent is getting to high for the team. They can fill some voids on the roster by not resigning Landry.
DE Andre Branch: Branch signed a rather large contract last off season and he hasn't quite lived up to it. He deserves to stay as a quality player/leader, but he should be restructured.
LB Kiko Alonso: That’s even if he stays on the team. Kiko really showed struggles this season after signing a big contract last off season. Expect Kiko to face a reduction this off season before free agency begins.
RB Damien Williams: Williams showed to be a versatile back in the two years he played under Gase. He had some looks from NE last year, but I think Gase will make sure he stays in Miami, unless his contract offers get to high
DE William Hayes: He was an important part of the run defense last year and is a true leader. He won't cost much and is an important part of growing on defense.
FS Michael Thomas:Thomas has been a key special teamer and a versatile defender. I fully expect him and his leadership to play a key role in his return to Miami.
Free Agent Signings:
RB Jeremy Hill (CIN): He has had some good seasons, but he has been inconsistent. I can see him coming to Miami on a one year prove deal and becoming a solid rotation with Kenyan Drake. Hill has the ability to play both inside and outside zone.
WR Kendall Wright (CHI): Wright played under Loggains in Chicago. Wright has had a couple of good years, mainly when he was in Tennessee. Wright would be a great replacement for Jarvis Landry and a much cheaper option, without taking away from Grant's snaps.
TE Virgil Green (DEN): Green played under Gase in Denver and has never really done much other than show some flashes. I can see Green coming to Miami to get a chance to rotate with Derby and Gray.
TE Crockett Gillmore (BAL): Gillmore has been a decent TE in Baltimore. Gillmore has the versatility to play as an inline TE and an off TE. He can move around and is a solid blocker. Gillmore is coming off of a significant injury.
OT James Hurst (BAL): Hurst started his career out as a G in Baltimore and has moved to RT. Hurst is a big/athletic T that can replace James and fits perfectly in the system that Gase wants to run. With Baltimore losing so many OL to FA, I see Hurst slipping through the cracks.
OG Jack Mewhort (IND):Mewhort has been a solid G on a bad OL. Mewhort has the versatility to play both G and T but he likely will play OG opposite of Jesse Davis.
C Travis Swanson (DET): Swanson played under OL coach Jeremiah Washburn in Detroit last season. Swanson fits exactly what Miami wants to do and at a much cheaper price than what Pouncey will cost the team.
DE Ziggy Ansah (DET): I had a tough time deciding between Kony Ealy and Ziggy Ansah, but with the hiring of the Lions DL coach and Suh, I see Ziggy Ansah having an inside track to the Dolphins. Ansah can play both sides as well as Harris. Both Harris and Ansah can help rotate with Wake and Branch. Can't have too many pass rushers. Ansah is an upgrade over Fede
LB Tahir Whitehead (DET): Tahir Whitehead would replace Lawrence Timmons. Whitehead is an athletic LB that offers quality coverage ability and is a solid blitzing LB. He leads the Lions in tackles this season with 110 tackles.
Safety Lamarcus Joyner: Joyner is the coverage safety that the Dolphins are truly lacking. Joyner has experience in the wide 9 and has quality coverage ability. He can even step in and fill the nickel role.
This free agency may or may not be farfetched. One thing to note, all the players listed are under 30 years old and most of them will not cost a large contract. By dumping off large contracts of Pouncey, Thomas, Timmons, and James. By signing Hurst and Swanson, Miami replaces both the C and RT with young options that cost much less.
Notice I addressed the OL with three different signings, allowing competition between Asiata, Mewhort, Davis and Larsen at G. There will also be competition at C with Swanson, Asiata and Brendel.
On defense, I replaced Timmons with Whitehead, who is younger with more upside. That gives Miami new look LBs next year with Kiko, McMIllan, Whitehead and Anthony.
Joyner adds a safety that can add versatility on defense as a nickel and a FS. That kind of versatility allows the defense to change without having to constantly substitute.
This is all just an idea.