Free Agency

Miami Dolphins: Free Agency Targets

Officially the NFL free agency period begins Tuesday at 4pm. That does not mean we cannot look ahead.

I already wrote about Ndamukong Suh here. Suh clearly was the biggest target of this offseason not just for the Dolphins but for free agency overall. It has been widely reported that he will sign with Miami.

So what is next?

These are my targets, not necessarily the Miami Dolphins targets. No inside information. Simply thoughts on what would work for me.

Dan Williams, DT: Yes apparently Ndamukong Suh is coming. Why would you need another defensive lineman? Because you still need a nose. At 6’2 and 327lbs Williams can eat up space, allowing the linebackers to make plays in the running game. A.J. Francis may be able to man this spot but an extra body is always welcome.

Mason Foster, ILB: Speaking of linebackers. Foster could help shore up the middle linebacker position freeing Koa Misi to move back outside where he belongs. Anyone who follows me knows I am very high on Erik Kendricks from UCLA in the draft so this would be a luxury signing.

Patrick Robinson, CB: I have heard that Robinson will sign with the Dolphins, http://www.phinmaniacs.com/news/cornerback-patrick-robinson-expected-to-sign-with-the-miami-dolphins. It makes sense. Someone needs to lineup across from Brent Grimes. Robinson would most likely compete with Jamar Taylor for the starting position.

Clint Boling, G: The 25-yr old former Cincinnati Bengals would go a long way to shore up the guard position which has been an albatross for years. Signing Boling would set four of the five starting positions across the offensive line, no reason not to take a shot.

Andre Johnson, WR: The 33-yr old receiver is going to be a popular target. Would he come home to Miami(he played for the U in college) or is he looking for a more sure shot at the playoffs? His presence would be invaluable for the young receivers in Miami and he should easily fill the number one position for at least a couple of years.

Andre Holmes, WR: At 6’4 and 210lbs Holmes would give the Dolphins some much-needed size at the wide receiver position. He is a restricted free agent so the Oakland Raiders can match any offer but there is no draft pick compensation to worry about. This would be one of the smaller signings that end up looking big when the games actually matter.

There are many other moves that could be made in the coming weeks. There is no crystal ball. Should be a fun time.

Four o’clock Tuesday cannot get here soon enough.

 

 

Categories: Football, Free Agency, Free Agency, Miami Dolphins, Ndamukong Suh, NFL, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Miami Dolphins and a man named Suh.

Tony Gutierrez/AP

Tony Gutierrez/AP

Hunting season is almost here. The NFL Free Agency season opens Tuesday at 4pm.

Like most years there is one marquee player grabbing most of the attention. This year that player is Ndamukong Suh. He is the white whale this offseason. Franchises will put it all on the line to sign him.

Suh is the $100-million dollar man this week. The San Diego Chargers just threw their name in the ring, joining the Oakland Raiders, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chicago Bears, his former team the Detroit Lions and the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins seem to be the frontrunners. They are going big-game hunting again. This is not the first time they have gone after the biggest name during the offseason. Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Mike Wallace all come to mind.  While they have had some success the Dolphins have also been used to drive up the price on free agents who never intended to sign with the storied franchise.

Suh is absolutely worth the money. He is clearly the second best defensive lineman in the league-sorry but J.J. Watt is still number one. Talent has never been a question. Watching him at Nebraska in college it was clear he was a man among boys. Even his occasional on-field penalties should not give any team pause. Still the price tag is daunting.

$17 million a year. That is what we are talking about on the low-end. That is elite-quarterback money. That is Aaron Rodgers-Tom Brady money. It is scary. For that money you can sign two or three very good players, maybe even pro bowl players. For that kind of money you have to be sure or it can cripple a franchise.

Miami has the money. Question is do they pull the trigger?

This week I considered what to do with the defensive tackle position with or without Suh. I came up with three ideas I like.

Scenario #1:

Sign Ndamukong Suh and Jared Odrick. Bring Odrick home. He has been the best interior defensive lineman for the Dolphins for the last few season. Pairing him with Suh would solidify the middle for years to come.

Scenario #2:

Sign Suh and Dan Williams, the free agent nose tackle from the Arizona Cardinals. At 6’2 and 327 lbs, Williams can eat up space in the middle while Suh, Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon terrorize opposing offenses.

Scenario #3:

Sign Odrick and Williams. Yes they miss out on the shiny signing of Suh. That is ok. The defensive line is still strengthened and you have a chunk of cap space available to address other needs.

Categories: AFC East, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Free Agency, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Ndamukong Suh, NFL, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Miami Dolphins Training Camp Primer: Offensive Line

 

San Diego Chargers v Miami Dolphins

It is rare that a teams number one need heading into the offseason is as obvious as the Miami Dolphins was headed into this offseason. Giving up 58 sacks will do that. Having a scandal hijack your season will do that. Needing to replace 3/5ths of your offensive line will do that. There is a possibility that the only returning starter for these Miami Dolphins may be Mike Pouncey. And that is just fine.

New blood can help wash away the bad memories of last season. Not all the struggles were the lines fault. The running backs could have pass blocked better. Ryan Tannehill could have gotten the ball out quicker. Mike Sherman could have done a better job calling plays. At the end of the day you have to play the hand that is dealt you and do the job in front of you.

The offensive line is the position group most dependent on working as a team. I do not believe that you need superstars on the offensive line. Having good solid players who work together and communicate is much more important. At first blush heading into the 2014 season the offensive line is already much improved.

I expect the starting unit to be as follows: Branden Albert, Shelley Smith, Mike Pouncey, Dallas Thomas and first round pick Ja’Wuan James. Of the group the biggest surprise of the offseason is the performance of Thomas. While some (myself included) did not expect much from him he seems to have improved immensely since his rookie season.

For the reserves I expect to see: Sam Brenner, Nate Garner, Jason Fox along with rookies Billy Turner and Tyler Larsen. Before the draft I would have even been happy to have Fox as our starting right guard. Fox, Brenner and Garner should do well filling in for the starters if called upon. Turner and Larsen may surprise and develop into solid reserves or even possible starters down the line.

Compared with last season I feel much better about the line headed into training camp. What was once a trouble spot now seems to be a strength of the roster. Cannot wait for preseason.

 

 

Categories: Football, Free Agency, Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins Training Camp, NFL, NFL draft | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Day of OTAs. 100 days to NFL season.

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Today is the first day of OTAs (organized team activities), the precursor to NFL training camps. Some are covering today as if it matters. It really does not. Teams simply kick the tires and try to knock off some of the rust. For fans it does give us some hope. If nothing else it is the light at the end of the tunnel. The NFL season is approaching.

The Miami Dolphins enter training camp with some predicting they will fail. One website ranked the Dolphins as the worst team in the NFL, on Twitter someone else predicted that they would own the number one pick in next years NFL Draft. When I see these type of things the first thing I think is:

Should we be drug testing those that write about sports?

Obviously I am joking. Everyone has a right to their own opinions. I simply wonder what they were looking at last season. While the season ended poorly with one-sided losses to division foes to miss the playoffs, last season was far from a train wreck. The fact that the team played so well in the face of the Incognito/Martin scandal is something to applaud. Many of the problems faced by this team last season came from that dysfunctional offensive line. A young quarterback simply cannot be expected to thrive when he is sacked over fifty times.

The Dolphins come into this season with a rebuilt offensive line. Will it be better than last years? We wont know until we are into the season. It does seem on the face of it to be an improved group. There is at least hope there and fewer distractions.

Other parts of the team have been subtly upgraded. Knowshon Moreno is the all around back they needed last year and Louis Delmas is a talented playmaking-safety. The new players are not shiny, but we do not need shiny we need good.

Maybe that is the disconnect. For some they need the shiny, the excitement. Me, I will take actual football players. Men that get the job done. All the shiny, big-name players win you are the press conferences. At some point they have to turn into players.

Sometimes a man has to get his hands dirty. Here is to the Dolphins getting down into the muck.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Can not wait for the season opener.

Categories: Football, Free Agency, Miami Dolphins, NFL, NFL draft | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Miami Dolphins Offseason Primer

C.W. Griffin/ Miami Herald

C.W. Griffin/ Miami Herald

(I original posted this column on another site. I thought I would take a look back before we move forward to the NFL Draft in two weeks.)

The NFL offseason is upon us. It is a wonderful time of the football year, it is like Christmas. As fans and writers we cannot wait to open what presents await us in free agency and the upcoming draft. Every team is optimistic right now, every team believes they have a chance to win it all. There are months and months before reality will fall down and crush our dreams.

Looking forward to the NFL Combine, Free Agency and the Draft I wanted to take a look at where the Miami Dolphins are at heading into this offseason. Sometimes you need to take a look at what you have before you go after what you need.

Offense:

Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill has looked good, obviously there is room to improve but now is not the time to pull the cord. On the other hand I could see taking a quarterback with a late round pick. At some point Matt Moore will be replaced as the backup quarterback. Taking a flyer on Brock Jensen (NDSU) or Aaron Murray (Georgia) would be a good idea in my opinion.

Running Back: The Dolphins running game underperformed last year, how much was due to a bad offensive line and how much blame belongs with the running back is up for debate. I expect Daniel Thomas to be gone but Lamar Thomas and Mike Gillislee have talent. The bigger problem is the lack of a short yardage back. There are backs available in the draft as well as Ben Tate and LeGarrette Blount in free agency. Personally I think they should go after Toby Gerhart from Minnesota. He is a strong runner with good vision, has good hands out of the backfield and best of all actually knows how to pass block.

No Gerhart but Knowshon Moreno is a very nice fit. Solid pass blocker, good hands and very capable running the ball.

Fullback: A good start would be to actually have a fullback, not just a tight end manning the position part-time. Ryan Hewitt from Stanford looks good to me. Played the position on a running team, also worked as an H-Back and tight end which is important for how this offense would likely use a fullback.

Wide Receiver: After the spending spree last offseason I cannot see any reason to go after more wide receivers this year. Now that is not to say that I would not take Sammy Watkins if he fell to the Dolphins, but he is not going to fall all the way to 19.

Tight End: Charles Clay had a breakout year last season, that does not mean we are set at tight end. By no means is Clay an inline tight end, he works better when you move him around. While Dion Sims may develop into a quality tight end, I would still bring in more competition at the position. Arthur Lynch (Georgia) would be a nice addition.

Offensive Line: Even without the drama of the Incognito/Martin saga the line was a problem. Giving up a team record 58 sacks is a big problem, not to mention the lack of running room for any of the backs. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is the only starter from last season expected to be back. A big portion of the offseason will be spent rebuilding the line. I feel chemistry is more important than big names. Geoff Schwartz (KC), Jared Veldheer (OAK) and Anthony Collins (CIN) are some free agent names to remember. I expect at least two players from free agency and another two or three in the draft. This is the important part of the offseason for this team, everything for the offense starts here.

Brandon Albert, Shelly Smith and Jason Fox are a good start to rebuilding the offensive line. A few more pieces should arrive during the draft. Xavier Su’a-filo, Joel Bitonio and Michael Schofield would be some good names to watch for.

Defense:

Defensive End: Do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordon do I need to say more, did not think so.

Defensive Tackle: Randy Starks and Paul Soliai are both free agents, only one will be back. That is the big question. Jared Odrick will excel at one tackle spot, just need to worry about the other one. A.J. Francis and Isaako Aaitui are both promising young players but they are still raw.

Soliai is gone replaced by Earl Mitchell.

Linebacker: Disappointing at the least, horrible may be a better description of the linebacker play this season. Dannell Ellerbee and Philip Wheeler were expected to improve the speed and overall play of the linebacking corps, that did not happen. They were the problem more than the cure. Bad angles and lack of effort were evident all season long. Taking Chris Borland (Wis) in the later rounds might be a good idea. He may not look great but he makes plays, that is all that matters.

I would consider C.J. Mosley (Alabama) or Jordan Zumwalt (UCLA) in the draft to upgrade this unit.

Defensive Backs: Resign Brent Grimes. That is essential; he is the cornerstone of the defensive backfield. That is the least of the moves necessary. Chris Clemons is also a free agent. While I would resign him many want a more active playmaker at safety. The choice is one of security versus upside. We know Clemons will be a solid safety for us. His replacement does not only need to make plays, he needs to prevent the big ones as well. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

Louis Delmas and Cortland Finnegan joined the Dolphins secondary during free agency. While Delmas may do a good job replacing Clemons, I am not as fond of Finnegan. I have never been a fan.

So that is where we are at, now we must take a look at where we are going. This is the fun stuff.

Categories: Football, Free Agency, Miami Dolphins, NFL, NFL draft | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Swimming with the Fishes

 

Photo Credit: Michael Tennant

Photo Credit: Michael Tennant

Jeff Ireland is on the clock. The Miami Dolphins general manager enters this offseason with a target on his back. It is sink or swim time for Ireland. Either make the moves to give Miami a winning season or he is sunk, he is likely negotiating for his career.

It all started Tuesday at 4pm.

The Dolphins hit the water like Michael Phelps. Signing wide receiver Mike Wallace to a contract for $60 million over five years, later in the afternoon they added linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.

Bold moves and they are just getting started.

There are still moves to be made, holes to be filled. Miami still needs help on the offensive line, tight end and at cornerback. They have the ammunition to make these moves. Even after the moves on Tuesday they have some salary cap room to sign a couple more free agents and after that there is the draft. The Dolphins have nine picks in the draft including five in the first 82 picks.

This offseason has the chance to be a game changer, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is what happens in the regular season. Winning the offseason is nice; winning when it counts is what matters. They finished 7-9 last season, that will not do this season.

Two wins. It is that simple, two wins. That is what Jeff Ireland needs. Get those wins and he may keep his job, without them he is sunk.

Categories: Football, Free Agency, Free Agency, Miami Dolphins, Mike Wallace, NFL, NFL draft | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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