Editor’s Note: Isaiah Wilson news by Kayla Morton, Free Agency guide by Christian Chappell.
Free Agency is a big part of the NFL offseason, with names both big and small trying to find new homes in the league. This is a highly anticipated time of the year and March 17, a date just around the corner, marks the first official day of the period, as well as the new league season.
The Miami Dolphins will no doubt be active, as they will look to build upon the biggest FA of any team prior to last season when head coach Brian Flores worked with General Manager Chris Grier to ink double-digit signees.
FA a Time for New Opportunities
For some this could just be an opportunity to sign a brand new contract with the team you’ve been with, while others will be finding a new team. Testing the free market is a tough choice, but with so many places willing to pay good money to build a winning team there are a lot of options.
For others, FA is an opportunity to keep their careers alive, as they may have been cut from a team for a variety of reasons from age to underperforming to off the field antics or for financial reasons. Anyway, FA is an opportunity for all NFL teams to add some extra talent to their roster.
A number of players have had expiring contracts or have been cut by previous clubs coming into this offseason. FA is also a time where big-name players are dealt in such a way that it shocks not only those involved, but fans of the game as well.
J.J. Watt, Kyle Van Noy First Big-Name Players to Leave Former Clubs
Additionally, each year big-name league players are left in open waters after their contract has expired. The biggest offseason signing so far was that of defensive end J.J. Watt. The former three-time Defensive Player of the Year left the Houston Texans and signed a deal with the Arizona Cardinals just recently after both parties agreed to part ways.
For Miami, its biggest casualty so far has been starting linebacker Kyle Van Noy. The veteran, who signed a four-year, $51 million dollar deal was released after just one season so the Dolphins could avoid a major cap hit. After underwhelming and missing time during his only season with Miami, the Dolphins are likely relying on some of its current LBs and this year’s NFL Draft to solidify this big defensive hole.
Miami Trades for OT Isaiah Wilson from Tennessee Prior to FA Period
This gave the Dolphins’ organization at least one more roster spot to fill before the start of next season, but they have since evened the numbers after taking part in a pre-FA trade on Monday night.
Miami traded for Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson in a pick swap. It took the Dolphins just a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft to secure Tennessee’s lineman, in addition to getting a seventh-rounder from the Titans in 2022 as well.
Wilson was Tennessee’s first-round pick in 2020 but played just four snaps due to off-field incidents. Wilson and the Titans couldn’t see eye-to-eye and he wanted a fresh start elsewhere, so Tennessee worked it out while getting a little bit in return.
Despite Flores and Grier dumping locker room problems and cleaning house, Wilson comes as a low-risk, high-reward player. Wilson will count just $1.1 million dollars toward Miami’s 2021 cap and reunites with Flores who were both graduates of Poly Prep High School in New York and have a long relationship (Peter Schrager).
Other Offensive Line Options for Miami
One place the Dolphins could definitely see improvement is through their offensive line. Gaining depth in Wilson likely means Miami won’t push hard in FA for another. But if it did it could eye guys such as eight-time Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams with the San Francisco 49ers or Carolina Panthers’ tackle Taylor Moton.
Dolphins Struggle Protecting the QB
The Dolphins could really use protection for their quarterbacks. It’s not necessarily that their defense underperforms by any means, seeing as they were pretty average in most defensive rankings with the exception of third down defense, where they were dead last in the league. Not to mention how well they ranked in scoring defense overall. But their one area of need is QB protection.
This being said, Miami could use some extra clutchness on defense, maybe guys that can consistently come up and make good tackles and/or play in and play out.
Three Solid FA’s to Consider for Miami’s Defense
Some players that may fit this category are players such as Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, Denver Broncos’ free safety Justin Simmons and New York Giants’ defensive tackle Leonard Williams.
Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin Best WRs Available in FA
Another place the Dolphins could see major improvements is with their receiving corps. The team only had two players that exceeded 700 receiving yards or 50 receptions last season, and the market is hot for guys that can catch the ball.
With players such as Chicago Bears wideout Allen Robinson and the Buccaneers’ Chris Godwin available, if the Dolphins were to make a move, they could greatly improve their receiving game and in return possibly foresee something such as a 4,000-yard QB on the season.
Aaron Jones an Option at RB…if Miami is Truly Looking
Their run game is also in heavy need of improvement, as it has been for more than one season. While that could be mostly because of Miami’s OL it’s critical to look out for any available back to be considered. The Green Bay Packers’ running back, Aaron Jones, who is reaching the end of his contract, is a hot name for Miami right now if it is solely looking to replace the entire RB room.
At least 31 teams in the league are in search of some kind of improvement, and there are many ways to do that in this league. Free agency is just one of those ways, but we are still yet to see all the moves the Dolphins will make.