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2015 Free Agency
The Free Agency period "Officially" begins on Tuesday. But the unofficial talks REALLY began back at the Combine in Indianapolis last month, as teams and agents meet to talk about either their own free agents to be or free agents that teams could possibly be interested in.
As we head to the official beginning of the free agent signing period, the Miami Dolphins have stepped up and become the clear leader to sign what has been called the highest impact defensive player since Reggie White, Detroit's DT Ndamkong Suh. The 28 year old Suh leads all DT in sacks since 2010, his 1st year in the league, with 36, and is as stout as any DT against the run. If you want to see a true visual of the impact this man can have on a game, just take a look at the playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, and the offensive line that is considered the best in football.
In that game he had 3 tackles, 2 sacks and was a force against the run. For the season, Suh had 53 tackles and 8.5 sacks. I cannot emphasis how important it is and how disruptive to ANY quarterback to have pressure right up the middle. Suh can provide that, along with taking attention away from DE Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon and whoever the tackle that will be lining next to Suh. He can make the linebackers job easier by taking up blockers and his ability to provide pressure up the middle can help improve an already very good pass rush, which helps improve what was a pretty solid secondary for the Dolphins for most of 2014.
I don't want to get to far ahead here, because nothing is official as of yet and will not be until Tuesday. There are still a lot of moving peices to be put in place, and perhaps teams making a last ditch effort to get into the hunt for Suh. But, what we can do is look at the possible effects of signing Suh would do for the Dolphins in regards to the 2015 NFL Draft.
Right off the bat, you can push the thought of a defensive tackle down of the list of holes the Dolphins will look to fill early in the draft. The Dolphins were interested in Washington's Danny Shelton, Florida State's Eddie Goldman or Texas DT Malcolm Brown possibly in the 1st round. Miami could look to add a young DT later in the draft, but adding a 1st round DT would be off the plate if Suh is signed.
I think now the Dolphins will look to add a linebacker through the draft now that the New York Jets have re-signed ILB David Harris. My thoughts are that unless Miami trades back in the draft to acquire additional picks, I don't believe that there is a linebacker with value at #14 that the Dolphins would take, at least at ILB. Clemson's Vic Beasley could have been a consideration at one point, but after he BLEW UP at the combine, I feel pretty confident that he will go in the top 10.
My thoughts are the Dolphins will look to go linebacker in the 2nd round, and a couple of prime targets are ILB Denzel Perryman of Miami and UCLA ILB Eric Kendricks. Both have the type of speed and ability the Dolphins like, and Miami has already spoke with Perryman.
It also looks like Miami might target possible safety needs and CB needs via free agency. They have reached out to Buffalo Bill safety DaNorris Searcy and have shown interest in New Orleans Saint CB Patrick Robinson. Prime targets Kareem Jackson signed back with the Texans and Brandon Flowers of San Diego is working on a deal to sign back with the Chargers.
I have not seen anything in regards to Miami and the OL yet with the exception of the Dolphins possibly being very interested in OG Clint Boiling from Cincinnati. At 25 years old and coming off a solid season for the Bengals, I believe Boling will be a nice signing for the Dolphins, as the Bengals have not re-signed him as of yet. Will be interesting to see how this develops. I saw where OG Mike Iupait is looking for 8.5 million/per year, and that San Diego will make a run at him. He asking for more that ORT Bryan Buluga, the ORT from Green Bay that is supposedly looking for 7.5-7 million per year. We will see how the market shakes out, but I would imagine OG Orlando Franklin will be in that same ball park.
As many have seen by now, the Dolphins have released wide receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson, CB Courtland Finnegan, linebackers Darnell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler and OT Nate Garner. Some players that are still very much in play are defensive tackles Earl Mitchell and Randy Starks and WR Mike Wallace. Of that group, I think Wallace has the best chance to remain. Miami had some preliminary discussions with GB WR Randall Cobb, but things never got serious and Cobb re-signed with the Packers, taking less money than what was offered by the Raiders.
How does this impact the draft? Regardless of whether Wallace is on the roster or not, the Dolphins will draft a wide receiver, and I believe they will look to draft multiple wide receivers if they don't sign one during free agency. Maimi supposedly has interest in Jacksonville WR Cecil Shorts and San Diego WR Eddie Royal. Both would be looked at as slot receivers, #3 wide receivers.
My thoughts are in regards to the 1st round pick for the Dolphins is that they will look to bring an impact player in at the wide receiver position. Becuase while Mike Wallace will possibly be back in Miami in 2015, and I believe he will be, there a very good chance he will be gone after the 2015 season. And for those that may hate this thought, I would not rule out OL just quite yet in the 1st round. This will be determined by free agency as well though.
We are just a few day away from the official start of free agency. Will the Dolphins be able to secure the Crown Jewel of Free Agency in Suh. We will find out very soon. It will have a profound impact on the draft for the Dolphins. Bring it on.
One of the biggest factors in how teams approach the draft is how they address needs in free agency. Free agency will be a key part of how the Dolphins look to add to the roster.
Dave wrote a blog yesterday stating the purge has begun, and this was in regards to releasing players that the Dolphins feel they can get better performance from at a better cost. Wide receiver Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline were released in the last 48 hours, and that is just the beginning of what is going to take place. You can expect LB Darnell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler along with DT Randy Starks and CB Courtland Finnegan to be released in the next week, as the Free Agency period starts on March 10th.
These moves, perhaps along with a few other moves, will free up to possibly 35 million dollars in cap space for the Dolphins to work with. Also, WR Mike Wallace is still a possibility for being released as well.
One thing that will be interesting to watch is how adding Mike Tannenbaum will possibly effect the way Miami will approach free agency. While GM Dennis Hickey is still over the 53 man roster, I find it hard to believe that Tannenbaum will not have a say or a thought on who to look at in free agency. With that said, let's take a look at a few players that I think could interest Miami.
David Harris, ILB, New York Jets - Davis is coming off another very productive year for the Jets, with 72 solo tackles, 52 assisted tackles and 5.5 sacks, Harris has been a rock for the Jets and just turned 31 in January. There will be stiff competition for Harris from the Bills and his former coach and now Bills coach Rex Ryan. The Falcons, Bears and Jets also will be in the mix. This is a player that Mike Tannenbaum drafted.
Mason Foster, ILB, Tampa Bay - 26 years old and coming off a shoulder injury that caused him to miss games in 2014, Dennis Hickey is familar with Foster, and he would be a fall back plan if the Dolphins were to miss out on Harris. 6'1, 241 lbs, Foster has been productive in his time with Tampa Bay and has shown and ability to get to the QB from his ILB spot. He had 6.5, 7.0 and 12.0 sacks from 2011-2013 along with 83, 106 and 90 total tackles during that same time frame.
Brandon Flowers, CB, San Diego - Has been a rock solid CB in the league with Kansas City and with San Diego, where he had a bounce back year for the Chargers. The 29 year old CB would be a solid starter opposite Brent Grimes.
Kareem Jackson, CB, Houston - Struggled early in his career, but has turned into a solid CB that can work both at the slot and outside. Only 25 years old, the Texans would like to re-sign him. The Dolphins have discussed him and Flowers.
Chris Culliver, CB, San Francisco - The Dolphins are in need of a CB opposite Brent Grimes, and the 26 year old Culliver is coming off a very solid season for the 49ers. He has the size you like at 6'0, 199 lbs and will come up and tackle in the run game. 4 interceptions in 2014, 7 in his career with the 49ers.
Davon House, CB, Green Bay - Another young, big CB at 6'0, 195 lbs, House has played in a lot of nickel and dime packages for the Packers, but wants an opportunity to start now. Green Bay wants him back, but at their price. Starting CB Tramon Williams is a free agent as well, but his is on the wrong side of 30.
Dan Williams, DT, Arizona - The Dolphins were getting gauged in the run game by the end of the year and finished 25th in the NFL against the run, giving up over 120 yards per game. Word is the Dolphins want DT that are better against the run, and Dan Williams is that type of player. He can play NT in a 3-4 set and anchor against double teams.
Kendall Langford, DT, St. Louis - The former Dolphin was a solid player in Miami, but not a 6 million dollar a year solid player. The Rams cut Langford after he was beat out by rookie Aaron Donald. The Rams want him back at a reduced price, but Langford wants to start. If the Dolphins lose DT Jard Odrick, which is very possible, Langford would be a solid replacement. 29 years old.
Rahim Moore, S, Denver - S Louis Delmas is coming off an torn ACL, and the rumor is the Dolphins want to re-sign Louis. He certainly had a very good year for Miami while healthy, but will he be ready for the season? When Moore was first bought up as an option, I balked, as the memory of that Baltimore game was still fresh in my mind. That said, he is only 25 years old coming off a solid season for the Broncos and he was tied for the team lead with 4 interceptions.
Antrel Rolle, S, New York Giants - The 32 year old Rolle wants to re-sign with the Giants, and the feeling seems to be mutual. That said, if they can't work things out, it would be nice to bring this veteran playmaker home. He would add a solid veteran leadership to this team.
Orlando Franklin, OG, Denver - While the Dolphins improved their offensive line last year, the OG spot continued to be a HUGE problem. Miami gave up 46 sacks last year, and this is a spot that has to be upgraded. Franklin comes out of a zone blocking scheme in Denver and is versatile enough to play at ORT as well. He will be in demand along with San Francisco OG Mike Iupati. Orlando is only 27 years old.
Clint Boling, OG, Cincinnati - The 25 year old Bengal has been a rock solid OG for the Bengals and will be a solid addition to the Dolphins offensive line.
Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland - coming off an injury plaqued year, Moore had showed promise as a deep threat for the Raiders the previous 3 years. He has nice size at 6,0, 190 lbs and speed to get deep. He averaged 18.7, 14.5 and 15.1 yards per catch prior to the 2014 season. A fresh start might be just what the doctor ordered.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco - Credit for this nugget goes to Dan, aka jammer, who stated the Dolphins could be interested in Crabtree. There were rumors that Crabtree played with a foot injury last year, although he denied it. The 49ers offense as a whole was a disappointment last year, Crabtree included. Teams need to hope he returns to the form he had when the 49ers got to the Super Bowl.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland - The Dolphins are working on re-signing TE Charles Clay right now. If he get's away, Cameron is a very talented, big TE that can stretch the field and certainly be that seem threat that Clay is. The one problem with Jordan, and it is a MAJOR problem is his issues with concussions. Teams will have to possibly look to structure contracts to protect themselves, as he has missed major portions of seasons due to concussions.