With the 2021 NFL free agency period opening and the franchise tag designation period already released, it is time to look at the Miami Dolphins as a whole and close in on how the team will deal with each position.
Miami Dolphins 2020-21 season record: 10-6, AFC East: 3-3
Miami has made two trades within the last week, one for an offensive lineman and one for a linebacker.
The Dolphins traded with the Houston Texans on Sunday, sending defensive end Shaq Lawson in exchange for LB Benardrick McKinney. Miami also swapped a future sixth-round pick with a future Houston seventh-rounder.
Last Monday, the Dolphins traded for Tennessee Titans OL Isaiah Wilson and a 2022 seventh-round pick in exchange for a seventh-round pick this season. 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.
Finally, Miami cut starting LB Kyle Van Noy the week before to free up room on its salary cap. The move freed up $9.75 million dollars in cap space. A surprise cut for sure with Van Noy already being one year in a multi-year contract, but logistically, the cap hit Miami worked into the contract after one season made this move makes sense.
Key Miami Free Agents Who Could Be on the Move
Positional Breakdown for Possible FA Signings
Here are my recommendations for each positions in regards to FA:
While examining the Dolphins roster and looking at available free agents, I could see the Dolphins re-signing a few of these players on cheap deals, possibly one-year deals, but not all.
For the back-up quarterback position I would look at former Baltimore Ravens QB Robert Griffin III or possibly Los Angeles Chargers QB Tyrod Taylor to help current starting QB Tua Tagovailoa. With a parallel style of QB play, this could help Tagovailoa’s development immensely.
Another name to look out for is Marcus Mariota. While he is still under contract with the Las Vegas Raiders, there is rumor they are shopping him and possibly cutting him. One of these QBs would be a cheap back-up that can be put into the game and pick it up fast.
One of the available free agent QBs would be a cheap back-up that would help the Dolphins’ free agency salary cap, as well as be able to give Miami an experienced veteran that can learn the playbook and be put into its game quickly.
Miami would also need to see if drafting a back early would be beneficial in an already-deep RB corps who consists of Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, Patrick Laird and Jordan Scarlett. After reviewing all the RBs on the market it would only make sense for them to either draft a back due to the nature of how deep their roster is, but if FA is on the table, Miami could throw cash that way too.
At the wide receiver position, the Dolphins should focus on players who can assist with No. 1 DeVante Parker and help free him up in the passing game. There are some big names available in FA already that Miami could target.
Samuel is a speedster whose ability could come in handy with Parker, whom is already a speedy guy. A one-two punch of the duo would confuse the defense on who to cover more, creating openings.
Davis, coming off a decent year, could be a nice complement in Miami’s picture with his big-catch ability. While Parker is a speedy guy Davis does have the ability to command attention if he is left alone.
Miami also has the option to sign Reynolds who is coming off a career year from LA despite not being a top target. He still caused defensive damage as a No. 3 WR and could do even more if bolstered higher in an offense.
Important to Remember: Miami Currently Holds No. 3 Overall Selection in 2021 NFL Draft
The No. 3 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft is something of a small chance of being a wild card. But, most people assume or feel like it’s guaranteed that if the Dolphins keep the selection they’ll draft a WR. That WR has a high chance of being University of Alabama wideout Devonta Smith, Tagovailoa’s former Alabama partner, to help bring in and build a chemistry.
At tight end Miami is fine.
With Mike Gesicki being the main target and having Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen backing him up, the Dolphins are silently building a triple-TE threat. The trio set records in 2020-21 that it is looking to build on.
Gesicki is also slowly becoming one of the best TEs in football, so adding another TE into the mix would not serve any purpose.
With Defense Mostly Returning Up Until this Point, Defensive Line and Linebacker Remain Key Focuses
With the defense mostly intact they would only need to address the defensive line and continue addressing the linebacker corps.
For the DL I would recommend, if the Dolphins were to go on the flashier side, taking former Indianapolis Colts DL Justin Houston or San Francisco 49ers’ Solomon Thomas. But a more reasonably-priced player would be along the lines of former New Orleans Saints’ DL Sheldon Rankins or Ravens’ DE Derek Wolfe. Both are slightly older but can still do damage and would be a nice addition to the line without being damaging to the wallet.
Finally, a quieter name to look for on the line is ex-New York Jet Henry Anderson. Anderson is still a younger player that can disrupt the offensive line. Ranking in the top-15 in defensive pressures and top-10 in run stop, I would look to him to keep the running game in check.
The LB situation is still in flux despite the trade for McKinney. But, it can be continued to be fixed by bringing back former Dolphin Neville Hewitt who has been playing with divisional rival Jets, former Ravens’ LB Tyus Bowser or former New York Giants LB David Mayo. Miami can also keep in mind all younger players who have the chance to bring huge upside and can be a major plug-in play.
NFL Salary Cap Decreased for 2021-22 Season
Overall this offseason and the 2021-22 season will be one for the books due to the nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. With the NFL salary cap now set at $182.5 million dollars we can see teams having to cut valuable players to make space or else suffer NFL consequences. Miami is currently sitting nearly $30 million dollars below the cap number, so the Dolphins are in a prime spot to make moves in free agency while keeping in mind the money they’ll need to sign rookies.
Editor’s Note: Devonta Smith does not have a player profile on profootballreference.com, the site FPC Dolphins uses to highlight players.
– Alessandro Senatore is a Sports Contributor for Full Press Coverage Miami Dolphins who specializes in the NFL Draft and fantasy sports. Like and follow on Follow @AM_Senatore Follow @FPC_Dolphins and Facebook.