The Miami Dolphins sent out the firing squad on the first day of the NFL’s free agency, March 16, as the club signed 10 free agents and re-signed one player.

New People, New Look

The Dolphins added seven defensive players and three offensive players. Four of these moves came from inner-division rivals (Three: New England Patriots, One: Buffalo Bills). Miami also got one offensive and one defensive player from the Philadelphia Eagles. The Dolphins rounded out their pick-ups with one offensive player from the Washington Redskins and two defensive players, one from the Cincinnati Bengals and one from the Dallas Cowboys.

Flores Sticking to Defensive Plans

Second-year head coach Brian Flores made a vow from the moment he arrived in Miami to rebuild the Dolphins’ struggling defense. Flores’ defensive-driven mindset stems from him taking over the defensive play calling duties in New England after the departure of former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. 

With the Patriots, the 39-year-old Flores was also a special teams coaching assistant, an assistant coach to the offense/special teams, a defensive assistant, a safeties coach and a linebackers coach.  

Dolphins Land CB Byron Jones

Arguably the biggest signing the Dolphins had was cornerback Byron Jones from the Dallas Cowboys. Jones signed a five-year, $82 million contract, including $54.5 million guaranteed. 

What it means:

Jones left Dallas and joined Miami opposite side Pro-Bowler Xavien Howard. The duo are now the top two paid cornerbacks in the NFL. 

Teams would normally pick apart the Dolphins defense by throwing to the opposite side of Howard, but now, opposing teams will have to face a monster on both sides of the field. Jones’ numbers look down from the Cowboys, especially with just two interceptions in five years. However, Dallas played a lot of Cover-3 defense and his switch back to man-defense with Miami will make his numbers resemble those of his college days at the University of Connecticut. Full steam ahead, am I right?

Dolphins Land DE Shaq Lawson

Another huge defensive move came from Miami acquiring former Bills edge-rusher Shaq Lawson on a three-year, $30 millions contract. $21 million is guaranteed and Lawson has incentives that could bump his contract up to $36 million total.

What it means:

Miami is going to get some much-needed quarterback pressure. The Dolphins seemed to allow all the time in the world to opposing teams (and QBs) last season and this statistical category gets a huge upgrade with Lawson. Lawson is coming off a career-year in sacks (6.5), solo tackles (21), tackles for loss (13) and QB hits (18). 

Three More Inner-Division Players Land in Miami

Keeping it in the division, Miami acquired three former Patriots. The Dolphins snagged two linebackers, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, as well as center Ted Karras.

Van Noy signed a four-year, $51 million dollar contract ($30 million guaranteed). Roberts signed a one-year contract (details TBA). Karras signed a one-year, $4 million dollar contract.

What it means:

There’s no secret the Patriots have had talented players for the last 20 years, but talent isn’t the only thing brewing here. Flores’ ties to New England are now helping destruct the team. 

The Dolphins grabbing two linebackers here (three total in FA) tells us that either Miami has doubts about its current rostered LBs or it expects high levels of competition to earn the starting job. It could also easily go with a combination of both. It’s important to note that Roberts was used more for trick plays than an every-down kind of guy. 

The signing of Karras also makes sense as Miami released 2018 starting center Daniel Kilgore who played for the Dolphins for the previous two seasons. Miami likely made it a one-year deal to see if the 26-year-old Karras is worth a long-term commitment. 

Dolphins Land LB Kamu Grugier-Hill

Miami’s third signed LB comes from Philadelphia. Super Bowl champion Kamu Grugier-Hill is in his fifth season and has played in all 16 games two out of those four seasons with the Eagles. He has also never played less than double-digit games in any season. His one-year deal details are also TBA.

What it means:

Grugier-Hill played the last four seasons with the Eagles, but entered the league as the 208th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to New England. See the connection? 

Flores also rotates players as he sees fit for the team. Remember why we lost Minkah Fitzpatrick? But what stands out with Grugier-Hill is his abilities on special teams. He has 30 career special teams stops (25 solo). It was painful to watch Miami on special teams most of 2019, but Grugier-Hill may just be the diamond in the rough the Dolphins need.

Dolphins Land 2019 Super Bowl Champion DE Emmanuel Ogbah

Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah packed his bags after being a part of the Kansas City Chiefs 2019-20 Super Bowl and landed in South Beach. Ogbah signed a two-year, $15 million dollar contract (7.5 million guaranteed). 

What it means:

Ogbah has a real chance to start for Miami in 2020. The 26-year-old tied his career-high in sacks (5.5) and had the second-most TFL and QB hits in his career, six and 11 respectively. While Lawson should also have a great chance to start for Miami, the only other guy in Ogbah’s way is Avery Moss. We’re saying “who?” too.

Dolphins Land S Clayton Fejedelem

Rounding out the defense is safety Clayton Fejedelem (Say it with us: Fa-gel-um). He signed a three-year, $8.5 million dollar contract to come from one rebuilding team to another. Fejedelem was a seventh-round pick to Cincinnati in 2016.

What it means:

Fejedelem has never missed a game in his NFL career (64 games). The Dolphins COULD NOT keep people off of injured reserve last season if their life depended on it. Fingers crossed, Fejedelem provides much needed consistency. He should vie for a starting spot after the team released Reshad Jones.

Dolphins Land OT Ereck Flowers

Two offensive snags for Miami rose a few eyebrows. Although the Dolphins started with a plethora of cap salary space, some may argue that they paid too much for guard Ereck Flowers. Flowers has spent four years with the New York Giants and the 2019 season with the Redskins. Miami gave him a three-year, $30 million dollar contract (approximately $20 million guaranteed). 

What it means:

With Miami’s cap space it did not overspend for Flowers. Understanding the details of money allotted for players here is key. It’s not comparable across the spectrum of the NFL. It’s important to remember that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was introducing himself to his offensive line the Friday before the season started in the huddle. The Dolphins had no one. Flowers is capable of being a veteran leader on the OL.

Dolphins Land RB Jordan Howard

Rounding out the new acquisitions is running back Jordan Howard. The former Chicago Bear and Eagle signed a two-year, $10 million dollar contract (guaranteed money TBA). 

What it means:

Miami is trying to solve its RB problem. The Dolphins went through Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage, Mark Walton, Patrick Laird, Myles Gaskin, De’Lance Turner and had Samaje Perine in the shadows just in case last season. After a trade to the Arizona Cardinals for Drake for a pick, Ballage, who really was never the answer for Miami, fell to IR. Walton was released after domestic assault and Laird, Gaskin and Turner split back duties.

While Howard missed time last season battling a knee injury, he’s a veteran presence who is still capable of being a starter. It wouldn’t be surprising if Miami picks up another back in the draft, but Howard is the most promising back on the roster at this time.

Other Notes

The Dolphins brought back Adrian Colbert on a one-year, $1.775 million dollar contract. He joined Miami on Nov. 20 last season and played in six games (five starts) last season. This simply means his numbers were good enough in a shortened tender that the Dolphins are willing to see what he can do in a full season.

Miami will look to add players to challenge their new signees during the NFL Draft on April 23.

– Kayla Morton is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Miami Dolphins. Like and follow on and Facebook.

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