Things are already starting to move fast and furious in the NFL free agency market.
Some pretty big-name players – Brandon Marshall’s a Giant now – have already started moving around and things are only going to get crazier.
The Dolphins, having just enjoyed one of its better seasons in the past couple of years, could do themselves a big favor by dipping their toe in the unrestricted free agent pool. Miami has the requisite cap space to make a meaningful move – or two – while still taking care of its own free agents.
Today we asked Miami Sports Radio 560 WQAM’s Zach Krantz to give us his “free agents wish list”:
Position: Inside Linebacker (6-foot-3, 265 pounds)
2016 Team: New England Patriots (5 seasons)
Last contract: $7.75 million on fifth-year option of 4-year rookie deal
Projected 2017 salary: $42.6 million/4-year deal
How he fits with Dolphins: The Dolphins’ defense was ranked 30th against the run last season. Yes, 30th. Miami’s linebackers did their best in 2016, but frankly, they were a joke. By the end of the season you had special team’s guys starting at those positions. Linebacker is easily the biggest position of need for the Fins on and Hightower is the prize free agent at his position. He’s a proven winner – winning multiple championships in college and the pros – he can rush the passer and he is great in defending the run. As Channing Crowder tells us all the time, you want a monster to play middle linebacker. Hightower is 6-foot-3, 265 pounds –in my book that’s exactly what CC is talking about. The Fins needs to grab this monster and make him the man in the middle for the next five to six years. Welcome to South Beach Don’t’a.
Position: Wide Receiver (6-foot, 205 pounds)
2016 Team: San Francisco 49ers (2 seasons)
Last contract: $40 million/5-year deal; only played two seasons before released
Projected 2017 salary: N/A
How he fits with Dolphins: Torrey Smith is 28 years old and he is known for his speed. The Fins might lose Kenny Stills and his nine touchdowns from last season. Stills was known as “the speed guy” for Miami. Bringing in Smith – for the right salary – would be a low-risk, high reward move. Before his two disappointing seasons in San Francisco, Smith led the league in yards per catch. Remember, the 49ers’ quarterback situation was in a perpetual state of flux for the past two years. Smith still has good football and top-end speed left in him. If Miami cannot come to terms with Stills, and the market may price him out of the Fins’ desired range to spend, one of the best moves to make would be to bring in a guy in Smith who wants to prove to the league he still has it.
Position: Safety (6-foot, 217 pounds)
2016 Team: Jacksonville Jaguars (4 seasons)
Last contract: $5.47 million/4-year deal
Projected 2017 salary: $27 million/5-year deal
How he fits with Dolphins: Once the news came out about safety Isa-Abdual Quddas has a neck issue and might not be ready to play by the start of the 2017 season, it should’ve served as the signal for the Dolphins to go after a safety during free agency. Enter Johnathan Cyprien from the lowly Jaguars. Cyprien is a local product – playing high school at North Miami Beach and collegiately at FIU – and is an up-and-coming safety in this league. He is very good against the run and is a tough kid. He averaged 85 tackles per season and I think he would benefit greatly from playing next to Reshad Jones. If there is even the slightest indication Quddas won’t be available to start the season, you need to grab a safety either in free agency or the draft. But why not get a proven veteran and bring Cyprien home at the same time.
Position: Offensive Guard (6-foot-5, 340 pounds)
2016 Team: San Diego Chargers (4 seasons)
Last contract: $11.4 million/4-year deal
Projected 2017 salary: $40.1 million/4-year deal
How he fits with Dolphins: Last season we saw something on the Fins’ offense that is very rare – a potent running game. Jay Ajayi became the fourth running back in NFL history to rush for 200-plus yards three times in a season. We gave Ajayi and “The Unicorns” (the nickname Sun-Sentinel Dolphins beat reporter Omar Kelly gave the O-Line) all the credit in the world. With that said, Brandon Albert is gone and Mike Pouncey remains an injured question mark. So I think it would be smart for the Dolphins to go after another monster to help “The Unicorns” come back even stronger in 2017. Former Los Angeles Charger D.J. Fluker is a 6-foot-5, 340-pound mountain of a human being and right guard. Fluker, who is also a former Alabama national champion, was a big reason for Melvin Gordon’s breakout season in 2016. Price is going to determine if Fluker will bring his talents to South Beach. But it they can agree to reasonable terms, Fluker is a good fit for Adam Gase’s offense. If you need help with the restaurant selections down here, hit me up on Twitter D.J.
*Projected salaries based on SportsTrac.com’s Market Value tool.