Oct 23, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Anquan Boldin (80) makes a touchdown catch against Washington Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller (38) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Lions won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Not every Miami Dolphins need can be addressed through the draft, so these four positions could still be targeted in free agency.
The Miami Dolphins have done a great job addressing the majority of the holes in their defense during 2017 NFL free agency. However, there are still a few areas where they can improve their depth prior to the 2017 NFL Draft.
At this point, all the Dolphins really need to concern themselves with in free agency are veterans, leadership and stop-gap plug-ins for the 2017 season. The long-term voids will be addressed in the draft. The goal of a great roster is to have 53 men that can contribute if called upon. Miami still has work to do to get to that point.
In the interest of looking for that depth, these are the positions they can still address in free agency.
The team took a huge step in the right direction over the past two years acquiring Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons to a miserable linebacking corps. Nevertheless, after that they are still very shaky and need to improve this group.
Miami will almost certainly address the position early in the draft. It’s tough to rely on a rookie and their draft pick will likely be groomed to replace Timmons, who is now 30 years old and only on a two-year deal. Currently, the oft-injured and mediocre Koa Misi is penciled in as a starter. They could use a stop-gap veteran to be rotational option for a year or two.
There are still a handful of linebackers available that could fill this role. Guys like Rey Maualuga, Josh Mauga and Sean Weatherspoon are all potential backup or rotational players worth bringing into camp. DeAndre Levy, though facing serious injury concerns, could be worth a look and Brandon Spikes is a free agent as well. None of these are sexy picks, but could serve as much needed depth at very unexceptional position.
Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) reacts during the second half against Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Signing T.J. McDonald was a huge move for the Dolphins. It would’ve been nice to add a second-year team option and he is suspended for the first eight weeks of 2017. With that said, he’ll play a major role once he returns. It will be like picking up a Pro-Bowl caliber player mid-season. Their young cornerbacks also has a lot of promise.
Still, they could use some help in the secondary. Nate Allen and Michael Thomas are not an awful duo to fill the void until McDonald is eligible, but Allen is an injury concern while Thomas is decidedly average. On the outside, the Phins could use depth at corner. A player who may be able to compete for a starting job or the nickel position would be nice as well.
Brandon Flowers is the most intriguing option at corner, along with Darrelle Revis, who may move to safety this season. Both could be signed at a bargain price and have huge upside as potential starters. Patrick Robinson and Shareece Wright are also sitting out there.
Corey Graham would be an excellent option at safety as McDonald won’t count against the 53-man roster until he is eligible to play. Another former Bill, Aaron Williams may be worth a prove-it contract after contemplating retirement due to injuries he will reportedly be fully recovered from. Dashon Goldson and Michael Griffin are both aging, but effective veterans on the open market as well.
Again, none of these guys are world beaters, but some may be worth a look. It would be nice to add some insurance in a secondary that dealt with a ton of injuries last season. Reshad Jones, Xavien Howard and Byron Maxwell all missed significant time, and one of their starters are already suspended. There is a lot of promise in this group, just not a lot of proven depth.
Dec 11, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Anquan Boldin (80) runs after a catch during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Lions win 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Whenever you mention wide receivers and Dolphins, the fans get a bit upset. They are very happy with the receiving corps and believe the team has more pressing issues. Indeed, this is a good group and not a major concern. However, that doesn’t mean you ignore it. A general manager should always be trying to get better at every position.
Here’s the issue with this group outside of Jarvis Landry. DeVante Parker is supremely talented, but is an injury concern and has been since his final year at Louisville. Kenny Stills may be facing a potential suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy. We have no idea how that whole Vegas arm wrestling fiasco is going to play out. The next two wideouts behind them are completely unproven second-year wideouts, Leonte Carroo and Rashawn Scott. It would be nice to add a veteran to this group.
There are a few guys like Stevie Johnson, Michael Floyd and Vincent Jackson on the market. But the most obvious and glaring option would be the same guy I pushed for Miami to sign one year ago.
There isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t be better for signing Anquan Boldin. He is the definition of a professional and true football player who brings talent, toughness and leadership to any offense he’s on. Last year with the Detroit Lions, he caught 67 passes for 584 yards and eight touchdowns. The numbers are still there for the hard-nosed veteran, especially when you consider the fact that Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker didn’t exactly blow him out of the water statistically.
His numbers aren’t what makes him great though. What makes him great at this age is his elite level blocking, willingness to get those tough yards and how reliable he is. Ask any expert who covers or follows the Lions, 49ers or Ravens. He played with all those teams as he got older and every single person that watched him every week will tell you how valuable he is to a team beyond the box score.
Nov 13, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Jared Odrick (75) runs out of the tunnel before a football game against the Houston Texans at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Miami has made it clear that they want to add another defensive tackle. After considering their roster, the available free agents and the rookie prospects in the NFL Draft, it would be best to address the position in free agency with a solid veteran. There are plenty of talented defensive tackles out there and they have more pressing needs early in the draft.
There are a bunch of guys to consider. Johnathan Hankins is the biggest name sitting out there. Surprisingly he has garnered very little interest on the open market, despite being highly productive and just 25 years old. Other than the Giants, who he played for last season, no specific team has been closely linked with the run-stuffing tackle. If the Dolphins signed him, he could step in and be an immediate long-term starter, but would be less of a signing for depth than other possibilities.
Former Dolphin Jared Odrick is another interesting name still available. Following the 2014 season, Miami was sad to see him walk in free agency. But after paying huge money for Ndamukong Suh, they just couldn’t justify paying him.
After a disappointing season in Jacksonville he was cut and is back on the market. He’ll be 30 at the end of the 2017 season and was a strong player in Miami. Odrick would make a nice rotational player at a discount price who is already a fan favorite and familiar with the team.
There are a handful of other players out there as well. Vince Wilfork could come home to Miami where he played his college ball. While his snaps would have to be limited, he’s still an impact player against the run and a future Hall-of-Famer with a championship pedigree. Sen’Derrick Marks, Arthur Jones and Devon Still are all potential depth pickups as well.