Miami Dolphins Free Agent Review: Linebackers

This season the Miami Dolphins switched to a 4-3 defense and added new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.

Miami's linebackers played well in the 4-3, and the most improved guy from that unit was Koa Misi. In 2012 he had 65 tackles, three and a half sacks, and three forced fumbles. And considering his legal problems this offseason he didn't do bad at all. Kevin Burnett had his second consistent season in Miami. He had 109 tackles and two and a half sacks. These past two seasons have made him a worthwhile acquisition  The last of our three starters is Karlos Dansby. Since signing him three years ago from Arizona he has been decent, but not the same linebacker he was with the Cardinals. This season he had 136 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble, which is not quite worth the contract he signed or the game he talks about himself.

Linebackers in free agency this offseason aren't that urgent, but it is worth looking at some of the free agents that are available. One could be signed for certain situations, depth, or to start.

Paul Krueger, Ravens, 6'4" 270 pounds
Career stats in four seasons: 69 tackles, 15.5 sacks, and two interceptions
Krueger has progressed well playing on a defense that has elite type players on it. Baltimore will, most likely, resign him, but he would do well in a Dolphins uniform. With our front four I wouldn't expect a drop off and he could help Cam Wake.

Connor Barwin, Texans, 6'4" 268 pounds
Career stats in four seasons: 109 tackles and eighteen sacks
Barwin has come on nicely and has the advantage of playing in a good defense. He missed the 2010 season, so his numbers are based on three years. Houston will most likely keep him, but he would be a nice addition to the Dolphin's defense.

Rey Maualuga, Bengals, 6'2" 265 pounds
Careers stats in four seasons: 348 tackles, three sacks, three interceptions, and six forced fumbles
Maualuga is a hard hitter who has a reputation as an undisciplined player. He has had some issues related to heavy drinking, but hopefully he has turned a corner. This season he turned in 122 tackles, his first 100 tackle season. Plus, he has familiarity with Kevin Coyle.

Anthony Spencer, Cowboys, 6'3" 250 pounds
Career stats in six seasons: 361 tackles, 32.5 sacks, one interception, and 12 forced fumbles
Spencer has been a steady player but not dominant. 2012 was his first season with double-digit sacks (11). Otherwise he has had no higher than six sacks in a season. He is not a long-term solution for the Dolphins.

Chase Blackburn, Giants, 6'4" 242 pounds
Career stats in eight seasons: 334 tackles, four and a half sacks, four interceptions, and six forced fumbles
He has primarily been a special teamer and a backup. This season as a starter he put up some good numbers at inside linebacker with 98 tackles, five forced fumbles, three sacks, and one interception. I like Blackburn. He is a tough player who seems to always be around the ball with six passes defensed, but the Giants may not let him go.

Shaun Phillips, Chargers, 6'3" 250 pounds
Career stats in nine seasons: 473 tackles, 69.5 sacks, six interceptions, and 20 forced fumbles
Phillips has been healthy and steady for the Chargers. With Melvin Ingram being drafted this season it is possible that Phillips could be available. He could be signed for a decent price and bring some help in the pass rush.

Daryl Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars, 6'2" 242 pounds
Career stats in nine seasons: 679 tackles, 21.5 sacks, six interceptions, and nine forced fumbles
Smith missed most of 2012, but other than that he has been a healthy player. He plays in a 4-3 defense and is solid in coverage and against the run. He might return to the Jaguars.

Brian Urlacher also gets honorable mention out of respect.

I don't expect the Dolphins to make a big splash at linebacker via free agency, but they might add someone through the draft. I like Barwin or Krueger.

Let me know what your opinions are and thanks for your time.

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