By: Shawn Williams
My rankings for Miami’s 2021 Free Agent signings, re-signings or trades.
1.) WILL FULLER, WR (Texans, UFA) - Miami’s biggest need this offseason was providing Tua with playmakers that can help him, and the offense, take a solid leap forward in Year 2. Dolphin Wide Receivers struggled creating separation and getting into open space (among other things), and Will Fuller solves those issues. Fuller excels at stretching the field and is a reliable a pass catcher (0 drops in 2020), when healthy. The dynamic he creates elevates what Miami can do on offense, and now gives opposing defenses another legitimate weapon to game plan for.
2.) BENARDRICK MCKINNEY, LB (Texans, trade) - The Dolphins boasted one of the league’s best defenses for most of last season. Xavien Howard’s elite play and the team’s ability to create turnovers propelled them to near elite territory, but they still had holes. Miami wasn’t great against the run and could’ve used a true leader at the Linebacker position. They have hopefully found that with former Pro Bowler McKinney. He didn’t cost them much (no disrespect to Shaq Lawson), and could be one of the remaining pieces that can push the defense over the top.
3.) MATT SKURA, C (Ravens, UFA) - Much of the fan base was clamoring for free agent Corey Linsley (Packers) and would’ve settled for Rodney Hudson (Raiders) when he was made available, but they shouldn’t scoff at Matt Skura. The former Raven has caught a bad rap for a rough outing in a torrential downpour, as well as a few injuries, but it wasn’t long ago that Skura was heralded as a top young Center in the NFL. What fans may not know, is Skura is excellent in pass protection (1 sack allowed) and can be solid in the run game too. As long as the bad snaps are an anomaly, and he can stay healthy, this addition could become a real steal.
4.) JUSTIN COLEMAN, CB (Lions, UFA) - This six-year veteran has had a bit of an up-and-down career but has shown excellent value when asked to play a role that best suits his ability. Early in his career he was used on the boundary, and was less than impressive, before moving to the slot where he has shown to be a very respectable corner. Miami has struggled to fill the slot since Bobby McCain was re-positioned to safety, and Coleman should provide solid competition for the incumbent Nik Needham and 2020 rookie Noah Igbinoghene. Corner is one of the most important positions in football, and this signing will at least be excellent depth to an already strong unit.
5.) ADAM BUTLER, IDL (Patriots, UFA) - Brain Flores loves his ex-Pats, for better or worse (see Kyle Van Noy), and Butler is another one of his guys from the Super Bowl winning defense he captained in New England. Butler is a versatile piece to add to the young defensive line. He was primarily used as a nose tackle in New England but can play multiple roles as a formidable run defender, and pass rusher. In four seasons, he has racked up 15 sacks from a position that normally doesn’t yield a ton in that department (unless your name’s Aaron Donald). In a defense that relies heavily on players being interchangeable and finds unique ways to rush the passer, Butler feels like a very good fit for this Flores defense.
6.) VINCE BIEGEL, LB (Re-signed) - Before an unfortunate Achilles injury at the start of training camp, Biegel had high expectations amongst the fan base and coaches after an impressive 2019 season. He didn’t put up huge numbers but came onto the scene as an afterthought acquisition from New Orleans to become a valuable contributor. Brian Flores seems to have a knack for finding players with a specific skill set that can be maximized in his defense. Andrew Van Ginkel was Exhibit A last year, and 2021 could be a big “prove-it” year for Vince as he looks to recreate his momentum from two seasons ago.
7.) ELANDON ROBERTS, LB (Re-signed) - It remains to be seen if Roberts will be ready for the start of the 2021 campaign after a significant knee injury in Week 16 but leading up to that point, he was a bright spot defending against the run. Roberts continually found ways to get to the ball carrier, including some big-time tackles in the backfield. Although he may just fill a depth role after acquiring Benardrick McKinney, Elandon Roberts is a valuable leader, great culture guy, and someone that’s better off on your team, then not.
8.) MALCOLM BROWN, RB (Rams, UFA) - Depending on what Miami does in the draft, Brown may just end up as a solid depth piece. The Dolphins backfield has talent with Myles Gaskin, and Salvon Ahmed and Patrick Laird have shown to be serviceable when needed, however they lack a power running. Enter Malcolm Brown. The former Ram is a bruiser, and the kind of guy that’ll get the tough yards, or the goal line touchdown.
9.) JACOBY BRISSETT, QB (Colts, UFA) - After moving on from the mythical Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami was left with an obvious need at QB2. It’s officially Tua’s time, but he’s a young quarterback, and injuries happen as he knows, all too well. Brissett is a capable veteran with a strong arm and is a guy who doesn’t turn the ball over. In a pinch, Miami should be able to survive with Jacoby under center.
10.) MICHAEL PALARDY, P (UFA) - Before missing the 2020 season due to injury, Palardy was a solid punter in Carolina. He may prove to be an upgrade over the departed Matt Haak. While it’s not glamorous, a Punter is important, but let’s hope we don’t need to do that often in 2021.
11.) MACK HOLLINS, WR/ST (Re-signed) - Mack is one of, if not the best Gunners in the NFL. His value on special teams should not be understated.
12.) BRENNAN SCARLETT, LB (Texans, UFA) / DUKE RILEY LB (Eagles, UFA) - These guys are tied as they’re likely to hold depth roles and play on special teams.
13.) CETHAN CARTER, FB/TE (Bengals, UFA) - One would have to assume Carter will attempt to fill the void left after Miami released Chandler Cox last season. He did catch a touchdown on his very first NFL reception, so that’s cool.
14.) ROBERT FOSTER, WR (Football Team, UFA) - It’s tough to imagine Foster making the team with how deep the wide receiver room looks as of today, and we still have the draft. You never know though, Foster is FAST!
15.) JOHN JENKINS, IOL (Bears, UFA) - Jenkins filled in as a rotational piece for Brian Flores in 2019. He wasn’t retained and found himself in Chicago last year. Flores has decided to bring him back, and at the least, he’s a camp body. He’s also the only player on the roster over the age of thirty.