3 Free Agents the Miami Dolphins Should Target After the 2022 NFL Draft

The NFL draft is officially over, and the Miami Dolphins are looking for the finishing touches on a team hoping for a playoff run.

Following an eventful day three in which the Miami Dolphins made three picks and signed 14 undrafted free-agents, the NFL draft has officially come to a close.

For a team that believes they’re in win-now mode, Miami used the event to fill some of their holes. Linebackers Channing Tindall and Cameron Goode hope to satisfy one of Miami’s biggest needs, while wide receiver Erik Ezukanma and quarterback Skylar Thompson seem like icing on the cake for solid units.

However, Miami still has some needs, and is entering yet another stage of free agency. As of 4 PM on Monday, teams no longer forfeit potential compensatory picks by signing free agents. Furthermore, more teams are putting the finishing touches on their roster, filling holes that went unsolved in the draft. The Dolphins are no different, and there are a few free agents I expect Miami to have interest in.

Akeim Hicks

A report has surfaced saying the Dolphins have been in contact with two big names along the defensive line. Carlos Dunlap and Akeim Hicks have reportedly been on the phone with Miami, and the latter is rather intriguing.

Following the hiring of new head coach Matt Eberflus in Chicago, the incoming scheme didn’t match the 32-year-old, but it doesn’t mean he’s washed up. Hicks has long been a leader in Chicago’s locker room, and is a stalwart up front. His speed-to-power conversion is freakish for someone of his size, and it has long benefited those playing alongside him. Namely, Khalil Mack wrapped up opposing QBs for 36 sacks in four years with Hicks at his side.

Miami could use a space-eater like Hicks, and his ability to free up opportunities for others would be huge for Miami’s other rushers. Second year pass rusher Jaelan Phillips is in for a big second year. Another freak along Miami’s front could make it even bigger.

Hicks’ size also benefits Miami’s run game, which has been inconsistent over the last couple of seasons. While they beat up on the bad teams, they’ve been gashed by Buffalo and Tennessee in seasons past. Having another interior defensive lineman in rotation with Zach Sieler, Raekwon Davis, and Christian Wilkins would certainly give that unit a boost.

Akeim Hicks is a force in the run game.

Melvin Ingram

Miami is on the lookout for play-makers across their defensive line. Along with the aforementioned Dunlap and Hicks, they have been in contact with former Chief Melvin Ingram. They brought him in on a visit for the second time in the last year, and did so for good reason.

Ingram, after being on the Chargers for nine years, was another casualty of a regime change. When Los Angeles brought in Brandon Staley, Ingram moved on, playing games for the Steelers and Chiefs last year.

Melvin Ingram can still make plays.

While it didn’t correlate to a high sack total, Ingram had 11 quarterback hits last season, and is still a productive rotational pass-rusher. Miami is set with Phillips and Emmanuel Ogbah up front, but could still use some bodies for late in the season. It’s important to keep players fresh, and there’s no such thing as too many pass rushers.

He may not be in his prime, but Ingram can still make plays in a limited role. I expect Miami to remain in contact with him, and he fits well on a team ready to win now.

JC Tretter

Miami’s offense is a stark contrast from last season. Their receiving corps was statistically one of the league’s worst last year. However, after the acquisitions of Tyreek Hill and Cedrick Wilson, that unit has become a strength.

They also shored up the left side of their offensive line, signing Terron Armstead and Connor Williams. However, there is still one hole, at what some would argue is one of the most important positions.

Miami struggled mightily at center last year, and while Michael Dieter has improved, he hasn’t reached where the team had hoped. There is a veteran in J.C. Tretter, however, who would be a major improvement.

Former Browns Center JC Tretter is a leader.

Tretter has been one of the league’s better centers for years, performing at a high level under Kevin Stefanski, who runs a similar zone run scheme to Mike McDaniel. His ability to move in space is top-notch, and is only matched by his IQ. His ability to identify fronts could help out Tua, who has struggled with interior pressure early on in his career. Adding someone who you don’t have to worry about up the middle would make his life much easier.

Why hasn’t he signed? It’s been rumored that he’s looking to join a contender, which some would argue Miami is. Also, he may want a substantial contract, and being the president of the Player’s Association makes his negotiation significant to the rest of the league. However, Miami has roughly $20 million in cap space and can afford to make a move.

The Bottom Line on Miami Dolphins Free Agents

Miami is looking for proven commodities who can help them win now. They believe they have the team to compete, and want veterans as the last couple pieces.

Each player offers a different element to this team, whether it’s Hicks’ space eating, Ingram’s pass rushing, or Tretter’s blocking, but each is vitally important to a playoff team.

The Miami Dolphins will almost certainly add more free agents, these three would certainly be a strong fit.

2022 Atlanta Falcons Offseason: Breaking Down the Edge Defender Situation

The biggest issue for the Falcons defense is a lack of talent at edge defender both in the pass rushing and run defending aspects of the defense. Atlanta’s defensive line has needs, but edge defender has more needs than the defensive line does. Atlanta will need to find two starters and a speed rotational rusher to take advantage of defensive coordinator Dean Pees coverage and zone blitzing concepts.

Atlanta Falcons edge defender Ade Ogundeji
Photo Credit: Steve Luciano/AP

The biggest issue for the Atlanta Falcons defense is a lack of talent at edge defender both in the pass rushing and run defending aspects of the defense. Atlanta’s defensive line has needs, but edge defender has more needs than the defensive line does. Atlanta will need to find two starters and a speed rotational rusher to take advantage of defensive coordinator Dean Pees coverage and zone blitzing concepts.

Under Contract:

EDGE Adetokunbo Ogundeji: 3 years, $3.0 million left on his contract

EDGE James Vaughters: 1 year, $965,000 left on his contract

EDGE Quinton Bell: 1 year, $825,000 left on his contract

The Falcons are in a great spot to completely remake their edge rushing corps. While Adetokunbo Ogundeji showed that he’s a good long-term rotational piece, he’s not a long-term starter. James Vaughters is another solid rotational piece that they should go year-to-year with unless he pulls a Shaq Barrett on them. Quinton Bell was a practice squad player last year and signed to a futures contract.

Unrestricted Free Agents:

EDGE Dante Fowler

EDGE Stephen Means

EDGE Brandon Copeland

Honestly, unless any of these guys will come back for the true veteran minimum, they aren’t worth bringing into camp for the Falcons in 2022. Dante Fowler was a disappointment all year and barely brought any pressure. Stephen Means is a pure run defender with no pass rush potential. Brandon Copeland is a run defense and coverage linebacker who is better aligned on the edge.

Current Need

The Falcons are missing two starting caliber edge rushers and one rotational edge rusher. They need true pass rushers. Bringing in someone in the draft and free agency has to be the plan. Right now, the focus should be on getting multiple guys who can be regular 10-sack players while they are with the Falcons, as well as at least a rotational guy who can come in and be a mentor.

Potential Future Need

There would be a potential future need if the Falcons had someone at the position. But right now, there is no potential future need. It’s all about fixing the pass rush right now and in the long term.

What the Plan Should Be Moving Forward

The Atlanta Falcons should look to get at least two starting edge defenders in free agency. Someone like Von Miller on a $9 million/year or so deal to start and be a mentor makes sense. Other options would include guys like Melvin Ingram as a rotational rusher or a Derek Barnett as a starter. Older, mentor types that could help in the mentor and rotational role include guys like Ryan Kerrigan, Pernell McPhee, Jamie Collins and Everson Griffen.

In the draft, there are a lot of interesting options. Ideally one of Kayvon Thibideaux or Aidan Hutchinson slip to the Falcons in the first round. However, options like George Karlaftis or David Ojabo could end up being great fits in the first round. Additional mid-round guys would include Myjai Sanders, Kingsley Enagbare, Zach Harrison and Nolan Smith. With such a strong edge class, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Atlanta go out and get multiple options in the draft and add just one veteran.