By: Hussam Patel
Aaron Jones remains a Packer
If this happens the Dolphins could look to signing a veteran running back. While players like Chris Carson and James Connor are available, Miami should not pay for a running back in free agency that can’t turn this running game around. We saw it last year with Matt Breida and Jordan Howard; however, they were not the leading rushers for the Miami Dolphins.
Miami is currently connected to both Aaron Jones and Connor. When healthy, Connor is a great running back, but a fit in Miami is not ideal even if it is a $3-4 million a year deal. The Dolphins should not overpay for a free agent running back and should look to get a cheap reliable back through the NFL Draft.
Last season Myles Gaskin proved he can be a productive running back, barring injury. The Dolphins offense will be more explosive with the threat of a run game. It will help to set up the play action that defenses didn't bite on last year, and increase the usage of RPO’s- a strength of Tua’s. Aaron Jones is able to be the #1 running back with a combination of Myles Gaskin catching out of the backfield and using a committee that can be productive.
Signing Haason Reddick to replace Kyle Van Noy
Now for most fans, the release of Kyle Van Noy was a surprise and leaves a hole at the LB spot. Kyle Van Noy was a good player for Miami but not at the right price, and the emergence of Andrew Van Ginkel led to Van Noy’s release after a failed trade attempt. Miami needs a true "Mike" at the Linebacker spot if they look to become a consistent elite defense. Lavonte David would have been a perfect fit but was retained in Tampa last week.
A signing of Reddick or Dupree can be troublesome. First off both are pass rush specialists and cannot cover tight end’s or running backs and essentially could be the same price as Kyle Van Noy. Miami already has several linebackers that can rush the passer and do not need to pay for sacks, they need a guy who can cover the field and be a run-stuffer. Elandon Roberts is no lock to come back and he’s coming off an injury. Kamu Grugier-Hill may leave and leave a hole in the special teams unit.
A cheaper signing of Anthony Walker Jr. is a viable replacement on special teams and quite possibly Raekwon McMillan could come back to Miami on a cheaper deal to be the run-stuffer. This leaves a spot to draft a linebacker like Zaven Collins at pick #18 or Baron Browning at #36; both young, cheap prospects that can man the middle and do it all.
Not Restructuring Top Contracts
Per my colleague Jason Sarney five players taking up the most salary cap space include: Byron Jones, Xavien Howard, DeVante Parker, Ereck Flowers, and Shaq Lawson.
Now there are several ways to free up Cap space. Check out Jason’s Article here and here
With these proposed moves, Miami stands to gain a copious amount of money to go all in for Aaron Jones and another offensive lineman to amplify the run game and protect Tua Tagovailoa, and a possible play-making wide receiver. While Miami may not look to make a "splash," eschewed by Brian Flores in his press conference earlier this week, this extra money can be used to extend current Dolphins like Mike Gesicki and Jerome Baker who would be Free Agents in 2022. This money would also roll over to 2022 and the cap amount be greater than this year due to Covid-19.
Overpaying for a FA WR
The Dolphins wide receiver group needs an overhaul, not a clean sweep, but some systemic changes based on an offensive scheme. A scheme tailor made to get it’s personnel to be on one-on-one match-ups, separating from defenders and gaining Yards After the Catch. Some names linked to the Miami Dolphins include Kenny Golladay, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Curtis Samuel. These three wide receivers will command money as they are the Top WR’s on the market, along with Will Fuller V and Marvin Jones, Jr. moving down the list.
Top WR’s will command top money. While I do not expect a bidding war in these times, you could speculate for the future if the NFL cap situation does not get better next year the Dolphins should not take these risks in paying a wide-out upwards of 15-20 million a year. Smith-Schuster is a great fit for the Dolphins and would be WR2 in this offense and does a lot of the dirty work and gets touchdowns in the red zone, but how much will he cost?
Now if the Dolphins want a veteran presence in the locker room and experience on the field, Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders and T.Y. Hilton can mentor this group. However, the Dolphins need a WR that can help Tua and have game changing plays- missing from the offense last year. While JuJu and Curtis Samuel are proven play-makers, they will command money.
Kendrick Bourne can be that guy, he might be 26 and underused with the 49ers, he does almost the same things JuJu and Samuel do. He’s physical at the catch point, a polished route runner and gets touchdowns. He won’t command $10+ million a year and can be signed on a short term team friendly deal around $6-8 million a year.
Signing a New England DT
Per Barry Jackson’s article the Dolphins are interested in bringing in former Patriots Adam Butler and Lawrence Guy at defensive tackle.
Both Butler and Guy are scheme fits in Miami's defense and have had decent production. Butler is versatile and has produced with injury concerns. Guy had a standalone season with Flores three years ago, and was crucial in the Super Bowl victory against the LA Rams. The issue is not the fit, it is about the cap money and salary. Guy is old and the Dolphins defense does not have a player over 30. Pro Football Focus itself has said that Guy could command around $7 million per year. Defensive tackle is not a need right now.
Malcolm Brown has been a name that is being buzzed around the Dolphins, I agree he’s a great run-stuffer and a scheme fit for this Defense; he constantly eats up blocks a lot, and would not break the bank. I like Malcolm Brown as a player, he’s young and productive and would not be a $6-7 million a year signing.
Davon Godchaux is a free agent, and not expected to sign back. I would like to have Godchaux back. He understands the Dolphins defense already with a heartbreaking injury. It led the way for a rotation of Wilkins, Sieler, Benito Jones and the emergence of Raekwon Davis. Godchaux will bring great depth in the DT room, great play-making too. Offering him a team friendly deal-around $3 million a year- would bolster this defense and continue their dominance.