It’s no secret that the Miami Dolphins are in the midst of a rebuild and head coach Brian Flores is looking to make major improvements on both sides of the ball.
He is at the center of an organization that entered free agency with the most cap space in the NFL and the most 2020 draft picks.
With more than 15 additions in free agents and draft picks to the locker room Flores has plenty of young and already developed players to work into his team.
Miami will be looking to make an improvement off of an underwhelming 2019 season. However, its five wins did land them the No. 5 overall pick in the draft, allowing them to draft University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as its franchise-hopeful.
The Dolphins however focused moreso on the defensive side of the football. With all of the new defensive faces, Miami will have multiple much-needed new starters to help with one of the league’s worst defenses.
In my opinion, these are the most influential additions:
Shaq Lawson, DE, Unrestricted FA from the Buffalo Bills
Miami went after a handful of players that were from division rivals, most significantly from the New England Patriots. Although, Shaq Lawson from the Bills should not be overlooked.
He will be entering his fifth season in the league and only season he has played outside of Buffalo– quite the climate change. The Dolphins and Lawson agreed to a three-year deal worth $30 million dollars, including a $4 million dollar signing bonus and $20.8 million dollars guaranteed.
Lawson has never played less than ten games, and in his last two seasons he has remained his healthiest, playing 14 games in 2018 and 15 in 2019. He also racked up 30 QB hits during those seasons and had 13 tackles for a loss in 2019. In 2019 he sacked the QB 6.5 times and hurried him 12 times. Quite a difference for a team who could apply little to no pressure to opposing QBs.
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Unrestricted FA from the Kansas City Chiefs
Like Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah will also be entering his fifth season in the NFL. The Dolphins and Ogbah agreed to a two-year, $15 million dollar contract with $7.5 million dollars guaranteed.
Ogbah spent his first three seasons in Cleveland with the Browns before going to Kansas City in 2019 where he had a down season after missing six games throughout the year. Another pass-rusher to help put pressure on opposing QBs will help a fresh secondary that does not have many reps together. In 2019, Ogbah tied his career-high in sacks with 5.5 while also hitting the QB 11 times throughout the season.
Kyle Van Noy, Left Outside LB, Unrestricted FA from the New England Patriots
Kyle Van Noy is one of the three players the Dolphins took out of the Patriots locker room.
Miami signed Van Noy to a four-year, $51 million dollar contract, including a $12 million dollar signing bonus with $30 million dollars guaranteed. Flores was a defensive and special teams juggernaut in New England, so reconnecting with a player who also understands the head coach Bill Belichick mindset could be a big factor. Bringing players from a championship-caliber coach and organization will no doubt help teach the young guys the ropes of how to make the transition from college to the NFL.
Van Noy is a veteran in the league with seven years of experience both in New England and in Detroit. While with the Patriots, Van Noy has not played under 12 games in his three full seasons. Van Noy rarely misses tackles and as more of a pass rusher for the Patriots got 6.5 sacks in the 2019 season while blitzing 115 times. Hello, pressure.
Elandon Roberts, MLB, Unrestricted FA from the New England Patriots
Elandon Roberts will be entering his fifth season in the NFL and first with the Dolphins after spending his entire career with the Patriots.
The Dolphins signed Roberts to a short term one-year contract for $2 million dollars with half of that money being guaranteed.
During his career he has remained incredibly healthy by playing no less than 13 games and has since played 15 games in 2017 and 16 games in both 2018 and 2019. Although while remaining healthy, his progression has fallen off a bit.
Roberts played a career-low in defensive snaps for the Patriots while also having career-lows in tackles, both solo and assisted, and tackles for a loss. This may be due in part to the depth at certain defensive positions for New England, not making Roberts necessarily a reserve, but used for specific plays and formations.
The only downside to his current game is his coverage. In the past two seasons he has also allowed around 75-percent of the passes thrown toward him to be completed. This is something Roberts will need to work on if he wants to be a consistent starter with the Dolphins. Nevertheless, Miami brought in another player with championship-like experience.
Byron Jones, CB, Unrestricted FA from the Dallas Cowboys
Byron Jones and Miami agreed to a five-year, $82.5 million dollar contract including a $10.5 million signing bonus and $54.4 million of that contract will be guaranteed.
Jones and CB partner Xavien Howard will now be the top two paid CBs in the NFL.
Jones is entering his sixth season in the NFL and has played in two different positions for the Cowboys’ secondary. He started his career as a free safety and was eventually moved to CB in 2018. After that move he made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.
Jones has been very healthy throughout his career, playing in 16 games during every season except for 2019 (15). Although playing throughout six seasons Jones has only managed to get two interceptions, bringing up many questions about his real impact in the secondary.
However, this could also be because opposing offenses don’t attack him nearly as much in one-on-one situations. In the past two seasons Jones has allowed around 52-percent of the passes thrown toward him to be completed.
So while he may not force many turnovers he is still a good defender who can make the QB think twice about throwing in his direction. You make the judgment call.
Noah Igbinoghene, CB, 1st Round Draft Pick
Noah Igbinoghene was drafted with the No. 30 pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of the University of Auburn. He spent three seasons at Auburn playing no less than 12 games in each year. His sophomore year was his best statistically, having 39 solo tackles, one interception, and 11 passes defended, along with one forced fumble. He also played as a returner for Auburn, and both in his sophomore and junior seasons, saw one of his returns go for a TD.
Miami could see him return kicks on special teams, a job mostly given to recently extended wide receiver Jakeem Grant, but that is still up in the air.
Raekwon Davis, DT, 2nd Round Draft Pick
Raekwon Davis was drafted with the No. 56 pick in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Alabama. Davis spent four years there and also put up his best numbers during his sophomore year.
In that season Davis had 69 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery. Each year after his numbers slowly fell off, but he remained fairly active throughout his college career playing no less than 12 games (after just four as a freshman).
Miami has made a ton of additions to both sides of the ball and are likely to show solid development after their 5-11 2019 season. But with a tough schedule, and the Bills and Patriots still being better teams overall, the Dolphins will have limited opportunities to add much needed wins to their 2020 record. Their new additions will be tested in their first seasons with the team and will look to begin placing cemented footprints in the organization.