The NFL's New Year begins with the opening day of Free Agency on March 9th.
Miami has long been famous and/or imfamous for winning the mayhem of March (on paper). So much so that in three consecutive years that include 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Dolphins landed the NFL's biggest fish at that moment in time with the acquisitions of number one free agent prospects Mike Wallace, Brandon Albert, and Ndamukong Suh respectively. Only Suh remains a Miami Dolphin.
2016 was the first year the trio tandem of Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier, and head coach Adam Gase worked cohesively together as Miami Dolphin decision makers. Previously to that from 2008 on, the ego-maniacs in charge didn't even include the head coach in such important roster calculations.
The 2016/present/future regime chose a different route than former trail blazers. Rather than spend the majority of cap space on one big named free agent fish they filled the bucket with potential keepers at practically every position of need, in order to give themselves draft flexibility. Expect them to take a similar approach to 2017.
Previous to the 2016 free agency period the present brass made a trade that landed significant starters in CB Byron Maxwell, LB Kiko Alonso, and a Big Fish via the draft with LT Laremy Tunsil. Though the Dolphins didn't land the biggest free agent fish for a fourth consecutive year. The trade results suggest that the Miami Dolphins won in March, April, and May as well as throughout the season via a new and/or preferred bait.
Here and now in 2017. Miami's terrific trio of brass have already approached a similar path to 2016 with an agreed upon trade on the table that becomes official on the leagues new year this coming Thursday 3-9-17. The supposed trade (in short) brings to Miami a star TE Julius Thomas (28) who accrued 24 touchdowns in just two years (2013, o14) under Adam Gase in Denver. In trade, due to the 2016 draft choice of LT Laremy Tunsil, the Dolphins found the flexibility and willingness to part with 2014 free agent and the often injured 33 year old LT Brandon Albert.
Miami has some fifteen or so 2017 free agents, some of which who could be keepers though perhaps not prior to free agency. Up to seven others could, should, may be thrown immediately into the ice chest under lock and key, though half of those may have to be hooked on their return trip from the breeding grounds.
Miami Dolphin Free Agents of some substance.
Linebackers the absolute weakest and thinnest Dolphin position.
(2016 FA Donald Butler 28, fifteen Dolphin games with five starts), the previous regimes Spencer Paysinger, or often injured Jelani Jenkins & Koa Misi. (Keep one for the sake of familiarity and/or "keeping your own"?)
Better keepers may be had via free agency at what should be highly affordable rates. According to NFL.com 35 ILB's and another 35 OLB's are scheduled to become 2017 free agents. (ILB Zach Brown 27) a preferred snag (from this vantage point) to team up with Kiko as of last years acquisition of the latter. Brown signed a one year o16 contract at 1.25 million with Buffalo. He started 16 games had 149 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception in Rexxx Ryans 3-4/4-3/4-6 defense, so he's well rounded. Zach Brown is the overall 20th ranked free agent prospect of the top 101 (according to NFL.com).
John Denney (38).
Talk about cohesiveness, familiarity, and/or "keeping your own" loyalty. Denney has been a productive Dolphin lifer of 12 years.
Ten long snappers are about to become free agents. Other positional prospects of potential Dolphin needs that are about to hit the market includes 9 Centers , 32 Defensive Tackles, and 42 Cornerbacks (many of which are highly qualified starters).
Bacarri Rambo (26). A 2016 free agent with nine Dolphin games played and five starts. He was picked up near midseason upon Rashad Jones' season ending injury. Rambo replaced Isa Abdul Quddus who suffered a significant shoulder injury near seasons end and may not play again anytime soon, (if ever).
Forty Safties are there for the taking.
The Packers Micah Hyde (26) is the twenty fifth ranked free agent prospect. He has played in 63 of 64 career games over his first four years with 33 starts while being part of 227 tackles with 184 being of the solo variety, and has four sacks along with 8 interceptions.
Andre Branch (27). Another 2016 free agent pickup who contributed in sixteen Dolphin games with eleven starts. He's ranked as the 67th overall free agent prospect.
Thirty four Defensive Ends will soon be available, three of which in (Mario Williams, Jason Jones, & Branch were 2016 Dolphins) The Patriots Jabaal Sheard (27) as the 29th rated free agent had 23 sacks his first four years in Cleveland, and 13 sacks over the last two years in New England.
Jermon Bushrod (32). Whats this? One more 2016 Dolphin free agent acquisition, and a lifetime LT that played and started 16 games for the Miami Dolphins at RG. Bushrod is not listed in the top 101.
Some twenty five of the leagues guards are scheduled to become free agents while numerous others at every position could eventually hit the market as cap casualties. The Dallas Cowboys free agent guard Ronald Leary is 27 while starting 47 of 48 games played over the last four years. He didn't play his rookie season and played/started just four games in 2015. Otherwise, Leary has been solid for a dominating Dallas offensive line. Ronald Leary is the overall 47th ranked free agent prospect.
Dion Sims (26), 6 - 4, 271. If there is a Gronk in Miami it is Sims. Though he's not in the top 101, he's an ascending player and an important type of cog in the Dolphins scheme of things. A Four year Dolphin with 22 starts, eleven in 2016 and the perfect ying to the yang of soon to be an official Miami Dolphin (Julius Thomas).
The Dolphins entire 2016 cast of Tight Ends that included Dion Sims, Dominique Jones, Marqueis Gray, and Jordan Cameron are all scheduled to become free agents this week along with 24 of the leagues other tight ends. This leaves just Julius Thomas at TE in Miami if and when the previously mentioned trade comes to fruition, so several somethings need to be scaled at the tight end table. From a fish eye point of view, none of the free agent tight ends are a better option than is Dion Sims.
Kenny Stills (24) is the overall rated 52nd free agent prospect. A two year Dolphin with sixteen 2016 starts, 42 receptions, 726 yards, and nine touchdowns. He'll be targeting double digit millions of dollars per year and/or number one receiver type money, while he would likely be the number three in Miami. Slightly side-tracked early while learning the Gase way. Devante Parker started half as many 2016 games (8) while producing more receptions and yards than the Dolphins touchdown leading Stills.
There is a lot of money to be thrown around throughout the league. The 2017 cap is set at 162 million. Cleveland alone has over 100 million of cap space available while a handful of other teams aren't far behind. Many teams with a ton of ducats are in need of a Kenny Stills over the top type speedster, if not as there number one guy, (though he doesn't have the well rounded game or body type of a true number one receiver).
Maybe Miami goes ahead and gives him the 8, 9, 10-plus million per year he'll be targeting? Maybe they do so, and structure the deal in accordance to when that type of dough will be required to lockup Parker? A ways of proving days and/or a couple years down the road! But then again, Jarvis Landry will be a 2018 free agent that Miami needs to lockup at near double-digit millions ASAP, and (long before o18)! Hopefully, Stills loves Miami and Adam Gase so much that he'll give an affordable home team rate, but that would cut into his agents income who holds zero loyalty to the Dolphins. So don't count on that taking place!
Kiko Alonso (26). 2016 trade acquisition with 15 games played/started that included 115 tackles, two interceptions and several of the Dolphins top defensive plays of the year! Throw him on ice already!! Apparently NFL.com thinks it's a done deal, or they don't think very highly of Kiko as they don't have him in the top 101 while including a multitude of far less relevant others. Perhaps just an oversight as he was nearly as productive as the 20th ranked Zach Brown.
Here's to the Miami Dolphins netting another handful of The Incredible Mr Limpet type 2017 free agents!