Mario Williams could be a target in free agency for the Miami Dolphins this offseason, but his price tag will be hefty. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
The NFL's 2012 Free Agency period is getting closer, and it's time to take a look at the top five areas that the Miami Dolphins need to address this offseason. When the free agent signing period begins on March 13, the Dolphins will probably address some of these needs, while waiting until the NFL Draft in April to clean up the rest of them.
Without further ado, let's look at the top five needs for the Dolphins this offseason:
1. Quarterback - This is no secret. Miami has to address the quarterback position, much as they have every year since Dan Marino's retirement after the 1999 season. The team has openly stated that they are looking to upgrade over last year's performances from Chad Henne and Matt Moore. The obvious targets in free agency are Peyton Manning (assuming he is released by the Indianapolis Colts) and Matt Flynn, who played under the Dolphins' new head coach Joe Philbin with the Green Bay Packers. If the Dolphins don't land either of those two big name free agents, look for them to make a push for Robert Griffin III in the draft, or possibly Ryan Tannehill, who was the quarterback at Texas A&M last season, where new Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was the head coach.
2. Defensive End/Outside Linebacker - The Dolphins are saying they will stick with the 3-4 hybrid scheme they have been running over the last couple of seasons, rather than transform to a 4-3 scheme under new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. Either way, the Dolphins have to find a pass rusher to play opposite Cameron Wake, especially since the team is looking to move Koa Misi to inside linebacker. The obvious, big name in free agency is Mario Williams, but I would expect Miami to look toward the draft to solve this need due to Williams' hefty price tag.
3. Right Tackle - Name the Dolphins' starting right tackle last season. I bet you said "Marc Colombo," right? Well, you are wrong. The Dolphins didn't start anyone at right tackle - they just stuck Colombo onto the field so there were 11 bodies on the field in Miami jerseys. The team does have some fleixibility here, with John Jerry having performed well as a replacement for the injured Jake Long at left tackle last season, and Lydon Murtha showing promise in the preseason before he was lost for the year to injury. But, the right side of the offensive line was a mess last year, and the right tackle position was, by-far, the worst of the worst. The 2012 Draft is deep in offensive tackles, and the Dolphins should be able to fill the need there - and don't be surprised if they step up and take a tackle in the first round.
4. Tight End - The Dolphins have a good tight end in Anthony Fasano. He can block, and he can catch. They also have fullback/tight end/h-back Charles Clay that can add a dimension to the passing game. What the Dolphins don't have, however, is that dynamic, pass catching, seam-running tight end. It probably did not help the perception of Fasano that he was stuck assisting on blocking so much last season - especially trying to cover the hole that was the right tackle position - but the Dolphins have to address this spot. Depending on how the draft plays out, Miami could be looking tight end in the second round.
5. Safety - The Miami secondary played well in the second half of last season, and should be even better this year. Cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Sean Smith both have some weaknesses to work on this offseason, but are coming into their prime and could be dominating corners. Jimmy Wilson, a seventh round pick last year, found himself starting some games due to injuries, and he played well, despite making some rookie mistakes. Yeremiah Bell is a tackling machine from his strong safety position (going over 100 tackles for the fourth straight year), and will lay a hit on a guy at any time. But, he is starting to get old, and the Dolphins have to address the safety position. Free safety Reshad Jones will look to make the big play, but will get beat just as often. Something has to be done between the safety positions, whether that's rearranging where guys play, or bringing in a veteran starter, or drafting a rookie to develop, we shall see. But, the Dolphins definitely have a need at the position.