It’s only been about seven weeks without Miami Dolphins football, but it feels like it’s been seven years. The good thing for Miami Dolphins fans is that NFL Free Agency is rapidly approaching. The Miami Dolphins holes and positional needs on this roster were made abundantly clear during the 9-8 campaign. Fortunately, many of these needs will be filled during free agency.
The Miami Dolphins will surely be in the market for a top-tier OL in free agency, maybe even two. Miami had a bottom-3 offensive line in 2021 and was a big part of the reason the offense struggled. The Dolphins offense finished 25th in yards per game and 24th in points per game. With new OL coach Matt Applebaum and a run-heavy offense with HC Mike McDaniel, expect GM Chris Grier to look for top-tier offensive linemen when FA opens.
For a second straight offseason, the Dolphins will likely be looking for wide receivers. Aside from Jaylen Waddle, no WR from the Dolphins 2021 roster is a guarantee to be back. In the Dolphins new offense, guys who can make plays in space with the ball in their hands will be valued.
The Dolphins will also look to add front-seven starters/depth pieces on defense. The linebacking corp was a weakness last year on defense, and getting a key piece next to defensive play-caller Jerome Baker would be significant.
Potential Miami Dolphins Free Agency Signings
Wide Receiver, Amari Cooper
Cooper is still under contract with the Cowboys. Fortunately, Dallas is expected release the veteran due to cap concerns.
Amari Cooper would be an huge signing for Miami for obvious reasons. He is still a big-playmaking receiver who would become an instant threat in the Dolphins offense.
A huge part of what makes Cooper’s game so special is his route-running.
The Dolphins will have to spend more money on Cooper than other WRs I’ve listed, but they have the space.
If Miami can make a hometown reunion with for Cooper, Miami’s offense will instantly look more powerful.
Wide Receiver, Juju Smith-Schuster
Juju Smith-Schuster has been a key part of the Steelers offense for the last five seasons. He is set to hit free agency for the second offseason in a row.
In five years, he’s missed a combined 18 games(more than one season). That hasn’t stopped him front putting up nearly 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns.
What doesn’t show up on the stat sheet though is his ability to block in the run game. In a offense that will place an emphasis on running the ball, receivers who can block downfield will be a great advantage.
Smith will also be a great addition in the passing game for Miami. He can stretch the field vertically as well as make guys miss in space.
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert implied that the Steelers will try and keep Juju in Pittsburgh, but if he makes it to FA, expect Miami to be mentioned as a potential landing spot.
Wide Receiver, Byron Pringle
Pringle just finished his fourth season with the Chiefs and is expected to hit the open market. Pringle, like Wilson, is the perfect fit for the Dolphins offense.
The way Pringle can move with the ball in his hands in traffic is incredible. In an offense that will feature quick passes to receivers in space, Pringle’s skill set would be perfect.
According to Hussam Patel on the Donna Daily podcast, the Dolphins are interested in Wilson Jr. and Pringle and view both as an “Albert Wilson type” player.
Similar to Wilson Jr., Miami should not have to break the bank for Pringle.
Center/Guard, James Daniels
The offensive line is clearly Miami’s biggest need. It was the downfall of the offense last year and will be key in Mike McDaniel’s run-heavy offense. Daniels, who spent his first four seasons in Chicago, has shown he can play multiple positions on the OL.
During his rookie campaign, Daniels started nine games at left guard and one game at right guard. In 2019, Daniels split time between guard and center.
Daniels has had an under-the-radar yet impressive career so far. In four seasons, he’s allowed just four sacks and only has five penalties.
The Dolphins OL struggled significantly against stunts last season.
While using his experience at three out of five OL positions, Daniels has become elite at picking up stunts.
In the video above, Daniels picks up a stunt and takes on Aaron Donald one-on-one.
Clearly, he can do similar things at left guard. In an offense that expects to run the ball a lot, linemen who can get to the next level are a necessity. Daniels’ ability to block upfield would be a huge addition for the Dolphins. Miami could likely get Daniels in the $10M/year range.
Guard, Brandon Scherff
Scherff will probably cost Miami more money. Scherff has spent seven seasons in the league, all in Washington. Almost all of his time has been spent at right guard. Scherff is clearly a top guard in the game and has the accolades to prove it. He’s a five-time Pro Bowler and was voted First-team All-Pro in 2020.
Although Scherff is a star guard who has established himself at the top of his position in this league, there are a few reasons Miami may shy away from him.
Scherff was moved to RG during his rookie offseason because of his strength and ability to handle bull rushes. Miami currently has Robert Hunt at right guard. Hunt played solid football down the stretch last season, and it would not be surprising to see him get a shot there this season. There will be movement along the OL this offseason, so it will depend on whether the Dolphins feel that Hunt or Scherff can play another position or whether Hunt is just not the answer at RG.
There’s also the money issue. Miami has a plethora of cap space, but Brandon Scherff will not be cheap. After playing last season on the franchise tag at over $18 million, Scherff is probably looking for one of his final big deals like Terron Armstead.
Whether or not he will be in South Florida next season will depend on numerous factors, but he is a name Dolphins fans should keep an eye on.
Linebacker, Rashaan Evans
The Dolphins were considered a landing spot for Evans in the 2018 NFL Draft, but they elected to select Evans’ Alabama teammate, Minkah Fitzpatrick. Evans has had a somewhat underwhelming career thus far in Tennessee but has significant potential.
Miami will be thin at linebacker this offseason with Vince Biegel and Elandon Roberts set to hit free agency and will need to add veteran pieces to the middle of the defense.
Evans is an aggressive linebacker who can make tackles in the open field, stuff run gaps, and play coverage when needed. A versatile linebacker will thrive in the Miami defense.
Evans will be a low-risk high-reward free agent and will likely generate lots of traction if his asking price is right.
Potential Miami Dolphins Free Agency Re-signings
Aside from the obvious potential re-signings like Emmanuel Ogbah or Mike Gesicki, there are a few other Miami Dolphins that Chris Grier should try and bring back in free agency for the 2022 season.
Wide Receiver, Mack Hollins
In 2020, Mack Hollins showed flashes of potential at the depleted WR position; however, he proved to be inconsistent and was not a reliable piece at the position. He was brought back last season and showed incredible improvement. He became a solid option in the passing game and was a dog on special teams.
Hollins is highly respected in the locker room. The leadership and passion he brings to the squad is second to none.
Bringing Hollins back on the right price tag is something the Dolphins seriously should and will consider.
Running Back, Duke Johnson
The Dolphins RB room has been a cause for concern for the past few years. The lack of run game can partially be attributed to a lackluster offensive line, but also due to a lack of experience and/or talent.
Johnson, who was drafted in 2015, joined the Dolphins in late October and got his first start in a home game in December. Johnson broke out for over 100-yards and two touchdowns.
He is a hard-runner and has the ability to hit holes and make guys miss in the open field.
He clearly also has the ability to be a threat in the passing game. Johnson will find himself a nice role in a Mike McDaniel offense should Miami decide to re-sign him.
Johnson’s asking price should not be unreasonable, and he may even take a hometown discount to stay in Miami, where he was born, raised, and attended college.
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