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2015 Free Agency
The work that leads to the 2015 NFL Draft continues for NFL teams with Pro Days and individual workouts for NFL Propsects and teams. There is also free agency going on still and teams looking to makes trades.
The Philadelphia Eagles are supposedly interested in trading OG Evan Mathis, who will be turning 34 years old soon and coming off a season where he missed 7 games due to injury. Going back to 2009, the most games he had missed until then was 3 games. From 2011-2014 he has been ranked either 1 or 2 in Pro Football Focus rankings for guards. There was initial talk a few weeks ago about Miami being interested, but that was eventually shot down. Now the Eagles have put it out they they are looking to trade Mathis, and word is they may eventually cut him. If this does happen, I expect Miami to be interested. While he is getting up in age, he is still performing at an elite level, and would IMMEDIATELY upgrade the OL for the Dolphins. It would also allow Miami to look later in the draft in regards to drafting an OG. This is something to keep an eye on along with New England FA OG Dan Connolly, who Miami has shown interest in as well.
Omar Kelly came out earlier this week and tweeted that the Dolphins could be interested in trading for a CB or S, specifically a Philadelphia CB or S. The rumors continue to persist that OLB/DE Dion Jordan could be traded, and Philadelphia was very interested in trading for Jordan in 2014. Could this be the case again, time will tell. CB Brandon Boykin is a player that would interest me in a trade. Seems like a lot is going on with the Dolphins and Eagles.
Now to some draft related news, I have read tweets from Simon Clancy, who among other responsibilities, is a contributing writer for the Sun-Sentinel, that the Dolphins have shown continued interest in Washington CB Marcus Peters, who has had numerous issues with the new coaching staff from Washington before eventully being kicked off the team. Very talented kid, considered by some to be perhaps the most talented CB in the draft, but issues with a coaching staff that lead to you being kicked off the team are issues that need to be investigated throughly, and the Dolphins are doing that. Some names to keep an eye on from the CB position besides Peters are Utah CB/S Eric Rowe, who will be in for a visit, FSU CB Ronald Darby, Louisville CB Charles Gaines and UConn CB Byron Jones.
At the DT spot, Miami has worked out Washington State DT Xavier Cooper and have shown interest in Arizona State explosive DT Marcus Hardison. Fresno State DT Tyler Davison is another prospect that Miami put thru a workout and have shown interest in.
A couple of names to look at in regards to possible QB draftees are Tyler Heinicke of Old Dominion and Washington State QB Connor Halliday.
At the WR position, some names that have came up are Maine's WR DeMarr Aultman and Central Michigan Tyler Davis. Davis is said to be a very good route runner, something that has caught the Dolphins interest. The Dolphins worked out Aultman, who has very nice size at 5'11, 195 lbs. He also is quick and explosive, as he ran a 4.4 40 and had a 41" vertical.
We know the Dolphins have interest in ILB. Even though the Dolphins are saying they are happy with ILB Koa Misi, Mason Foster, the FA linebacker from Tampa Bay that recently signed with the Bears said Miami came in 2nd for his services. The Dolphins have shown interest in Clemson ILB Stephone Anthony and Miami ILB Denzel Perryman. Miami also has shown interest in Michigan ILB Jake Ryan and will have him in for a visit. BYU LB Alani Fua has recently caught there attention, as he ran a 4.49 at the BYU Pro Day. Georgia LB Ramik Wilson is another name to keep an eye on as well. A very interesting name that caught my attention was OLB/DE Lynden Trail of Norfolk State. He will be visiting the Davie complex on April 9-10. One last name to add is Utah State ILB Zach Vigil.
Finally, a TE prospect to keep your eye on is Iowa State TE E.J Bibbs. He is looked at in the hybrid FB/TE mode like Charles Clay.
The process continues.
As we move into Phase 2 of Free Agency, the massive deals that you saw the 1st week of free agency are pretty much gone. Teams are now bargain shopping right now, and Miami signed back a few of their own free agents this week. S Louis Delmas, coming off a torn ACL, re-signed with Miami on a 1 year deal that is incentive laden. At the time that Delmas tore his ACL against the Ravens, he was having a very solid year with the Dolphins, and the defensive play dropped when Delmas got hurt. He is ahead of schedule in regards to his knee and he vows to be on the field for the first game of the year. Miami also re-signed QB Matt Moore and RB LaMichael James.
In regards to adding talent, the Dolphins had WR Michael Crabtree and OG/C J.D Walton in last week along with QB Tavares Jackson. Miami signed Walton to add depth to the OL, as he can play both OG and C, and are hopeful of being able to sign Crabtree, although there is competition for his services, and I had read that the Chargers were interested. The Jackson visit help intensify the negotiations with Moore and got the deal done in regards to Moore signing back with Miami.
Crabtree would be a solid signing for Miami, as they run an offense he is very familiar with, as it is very similar to the offense Crabtree was in while at Texas Tech. Crabtree is trying to bounce back from an injury plagued few years and show the form when he had his breakout year in 2012, when he had 85 catches for 1,105 yards and 9 touchdowns. Crabtree fits into what the Dolphins want out of their wide receivers in that he is very good after the catch, aka the YAC. Even in a down year for Crabtree in 2014, 68 catches for 698 yards and 4 touchdowns, only Juice Landry on the Dolphins roster had more yards after the catch than Crabtree. Also, Crabtree is still only 27 years old, so he is in his prime still.
As you know by now, Miami refused to match the deal that Buffalo put together for Charles Clay, and he is now a Buffalo Bill. The average per year is very similar, as he will be making 7.6 million/per year. It was the enormous guaranteed money that swayed the Dolphins from matching the deal for Clay, over 24 million the first 2 years. Buffalo put together a contract offer specifically to attack the Dolphins salary cap in 2016, when Ndamankong Suh will count over 25 million against the cap for Miami. Also, the Dolphins will have to put together a new deal for QB Ryan Tannehill as well as DE Olivier Vernon, as both will be free agents. Miami had a number in mind for Clay and stuck with it, and I have absolutely no problem with the Dolphins letting Clay walk. Charles is a good tight end, he is not a Top 5 Tight end and he has only managed to stay healty in for an entire season once.
We had poster bemoan the fact of Miami letting their homegrown drafted talent get away, but Miami had values on both Jared Odrick and Charles Clay. Green Bay has done a great job of this, and they will not overpay for their homegrown talent. Both WR Randall Cobb and OT Bryan Bulaga took less money to remain with the Packers. Miami had a solid deal on the table for Odrick and Clay, but they both took the money. In Odrick case, he is still in Florida in Jacksonville, so he will get more of his money due to no state taxes in Florida. Clay will get hammered with state taxes, but Buffalo paid him like a Top 5 TE. I don't hold that against any of those 2 guys, as the NFL is a league that will cut you as soon as they feel you cannot perform, so get PAID while you can. But Miami did the right thing by sticking by the value they had on both players. Some want to give the Dolphins a hard time for the money they gave Ndamankong Suh, but he fits the bill of an ELITE player. Detroit was offering very similar money, but the ace for Miami was no state taxes. And to let it be known, this blog writer has NO ISSUES with paying ELITE players. Suh is that.
I want to address this also, as it was reported that the Dolphins NOW are a top the list of the NFL in regards to teams with the most dead money for 2015. I thought Jason La Canfora made an excellent observation on that situation for Miami.
"Yes the Dolphins currently have $22M in dead cap for 2015, and that's hardly ideal, but that was a necessary step to getting out from under some of these inflated deals, and the Dolphins are more than fine with $17M in cap space now once Clay's transition tender comes off their books. They took some of the short-term pain, but were able to mitigate it via the trades, and are being proactive and creative to try to make the best of what had to be a tough situation."
As we work our way towards the 2015 NFL Draft, teams are having prospect come in for visits and do individual works with players. A few weeks ago the Dolphins had DE/OLB Vic Beasley and ILB Stephone Anthony of Clemson in for a visit. This upcoming week, the Dolphins willl have Louisville WR DeVante Parker and S/CB Eric Rowe of Utah at the Davie facility this week. It seems the feeling around the league is that there is only 16 players that are have a 1st round grade, and DeVante Parker is one of those 16. Right now, it is up in the air whether Parker will be there at #14 for Miami, as Oakland, Chicago and Cleveland all could take receivers. Cleveland just signed WR Dwayne Bowe, so it gives them so wiggle room to look at another position, but it would not surprise me if they went receiver. Even if Miami were to sign Michael Crabtree, I think they will look to take that WR that is big, a Red Zone threat, and in the case of Parker, good after the catch. I look at Eric Rowe as a FS candidate, as he played both for Utah. He has the size you love at 6'1, 205 lbs and ran a 4.45 40 at the combine and has a 39" vertical. Good in press coverage, the concerns with him as a big corner is the smaller wide receivers and his ability to transition. Very physical and aggressive against the run. Has the ability to play both corner and safety, but with the weakness of the safety draft class, I see him as a safety, with the added versatilty to drop down and cover a slot receiver when needed. He is projected right now as a 3rd-4th round pick.
Visits obviously does not mean it is a sure fire thing that a prospect will be drafted, but it certainly does show that the team has high interest in a prospect. I expect one of these kids, Parker, Beasley, Anthony, Rowe and Perryman to be a Dolphin.
The process continues.