2014 Team Needs: Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins came into the 2013 with a lot of hype after a big spending spree in the offseason. They added Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler and Brent Grimes. When the 2013 season started the Dolphins had multiple winning and losing streaks. In the final two weeks of the season they where in a position to make the playoffs with a win against the New York Jets or the Buffalo Bills but the Dolphins collapsed and lost both games — while only scoring seven points in both games combined.
We all know about the Wells report dominating the storylines out of Miami, so they need the start of the 2014 season to get here as soon as possible to put the focus back on their performance instead of in their locker room.
Potential Cap Casualties
Even after last season’s spending spree the Dolphins still have over $39m of cap space (pre Brent Grimes contract) to fill out their roster. This might seem like a huge amount of money but the Dolphins still have some significant free agents they would like to re-sign, so his cap space could go quicker than expected. Lets have a look at some players the Dolphins might release to create some extra space:
– In 2013 Dimitri Patterson only played 241 snaps, however he did grade at +5.0 in his time on the field. Patterson is due $5.4m this season without any dead money due. The Dolphins are likely to either cut him or force him to take a pay cut.
– Brandon Fields has a cap number at $3.6m and the Dolphins would save $2.4m if they decide to find a cheaper punter instead of paying Fields one of the highest figures in the league for a punter.
– For a backup quarterback Matt Moore has a cap number of $5.5m. If the Dolphins would rather save $4m and let Moore go it would allow them to find a younger cheaper option and use that money in re-signing important defensive players back.
The offensive tackle position for the Dolphins became a complete mess in 2013. They had hoped that Jonathan Martin would improve after moving from right tackle to left tackle, the position he played in college and they added Tyson Clabo to play right tackle. For the first half of the year both tackles struggled so the Dolphins traded for Bryant McKinnie — who struggled just as Martin did in the first half of the year — and benched Clabo. Once Martin left the team, however, they reinserted Clabo. Clabo performed significantly better in the second half of the season, -12.4 in the first half, +11.6 in the second half, looking more like the player he was in Atlanta. With both Clabo and McKinnie free agents and reports that Martin does not want to come back to the Dolphins, look for the Dolphins to sign multiple tackles in free agency.
Free Agent Fix:
With the Dolphins having significant cap room and a huge need at tackle look for them to go after either Eugene Monroe or Branden Albert hard. If they do look at signing an under-the-radar tackle they could pursue Tony Pashos, who showed in Oakland he is still capable of playing. He could be the veteran backup or a stop-gap right tackle for a season.
In 2013 defensive tackle was a huge strength for the Dolphins, they had Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and Paul Soliai all grading above +10, however with both Starks and Soliai looming as free agents they have two big holes to fill. They will need a one technique to replace Soliai and another three technique who can, at minimum, rotate with Odrick and provide depth on the defensive line.
Free Agent Fix:
The Dolphins have the highest rated free agent at defensive tackle in Randy Starks, but if they elect to let him leave they have Odrick who is a capable of replacing him. If they choose to sign another three technique they could find good value in the Seahawks’ Clinton McDonald to provide depth behind Odrick. If Soliai is not resigned they could look at another Seahawk and also ex-Dolphin Tony McDaniel who played exceptional against the run last season.
In 2013 the guard position was a mess for the Dolphins, once Richie Incognito was suspended the Dolphins struggled with Nate Garner and Sam Brenner playing his minutes at left guard. Neither showed enough to warrant them as a long-term solution. At right guard John Jerry was the starter, but once again struggled in the run game. With both Incognito and Jerry being named in the Wells report, neither player seems to be in the Dolphins’ future plan.
Free Agent Fix:
The Dolphins might have difficulty finding two starters in free agency, but if they are looking to find a quality veteran who could be found on a cheaper deal (allowing the Dolphins to spend money to re-sign their players and fill other needs) then Travelle Wharton will be a good short term player who proved last season that he can still play at a high level.
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