After Franchising Starks, and re-signing Hartline and Moore, Miami has around $30 million of cap space this offseason. Approximately $4-6 million of that will be used to sign all the rookies (including undrafted free agents.) Miami should use around $20 million in cap space towards free agency and save the rest. Right now, Miami has 9 starters on offense, Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller, Jorvorskie Lane, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, and John Jerry. On defense Miami has 9 starters. Cameron Wake, Jared Odrick, Randy Starks, Paul Soliai, Koa Misi, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, Richard Marshall, and Reshad Jones. That’s only 18 out of 22 starters not including upgrades they need to make, plus depth.
Out of all the free agents Miami has left, I only see them signing 4 players. Those players are Nate Garner, Anthony Fasano, Marlon Moore, and Tony McDaniel. Ireland will only bring them back for the right price, but each one of these guys makes solid backups. Miami had 19 free agents and so far re-signed 3 of them. If they also re-sign Garner, Fasano, and McDaniel they will have 19 starters. The 3 positions they are missing a starter at are RG, CB, and FS.
Starters that I believe need to be upgraded (by upgraded I mean these players should be lower down on the depth chart) are Davone Bess, Anthony Fasano, Jared Odrick and Richard Marshall. So Miami now has 7 needs (WR, TE, RG, DE, 2 CB, and FS.) Miami can fill up those needs with whatever amount of money they have left in free agency plus the 9 picks they have in the draft. This does not include undrafted free agents (around 3 make the team every year) or compensatory picks (Miami lost Kendall Langford and Chad Henne and added Richard Marshall. You gain compensatory picks based on the free agents you lost compared to the ones you added.) It has been reported that Miami might get a 4th rounder. Most teams like to have around 5-10 million of cap space during the season because of trades, or mid-season contract extensions. Miami rolled over around 5 million of last year’s cap space to this year and they may want to save a few million to use towards next year’s cap.
This year’s draft doesn’t offer many playmakers, so Miami should go out and get proven playmakers in free agency this year. Luckily free agency has a few to offer but Miami has to be careful. With around $30 million Miami can get 1 big free agent (Wallace, Welker or Jennings), 1-2 other solid free agents (Keller, Cook, Bennett, Bennett, Lewis, Goldson), and 1-2 aging veterans (Umenyiora, Freeny, Abraham, Woodson).
QB – The free agent QB class is very weak this year. Since Moore re-signed Miami is not looking to add a backup.
The RB free agent class is also weak. You will only find players who will have to split carries, no starters. Bush will not re-sign, so Miami will have Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Marcus Thigpen, and Jonas Gray. Miami could sign Ahmad Bradshaw if he is willing to come for cheap and as a backup. He would bring the experience, toughness, and leadership that we would lose if Bush leaves. Greene, Jackson, and Bradshaw would all just be short term options to split carries with Miller if Thomas needs more development. Jackson is obviously the best of the bunch, but will be the most expensive.
Just so you know I prefer building through the draft, but Miami needs proven receivers. Even if they draft one in the 1st round he won’t be a top receiver right away (at least not in this year’s draft class), and that’s what Tannehill needs. Also they need to use free agency to take care of some needs and fill the rest of the needs in the draft. Now the 2 big names every Miami fan is looking forward to are Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings. Personally I would prefer to have Wallace over Jennings, however each one has their pros and cons. For Wallace he is a huge home run threat, defenses are forced to play back opening up more opportunities for the run game and other receivers. But he doesn’t run many routes which isn’t a huge problem for him but he did drop more than few passes this past year. Wallace is only 27 and hitting his prime. Now for Jennings he is the ultimate west coast receiver, he runs excellent routes and has great hands. His cons are he is turning 30 and injury was a big concern for him this past season. Also he doesn’t open up the offensive game like Wallace. Wallace will cost around $10-12 million and Jennings will cost around $7-9 million. Now usually I wouldn’t expect Miami to get either of these receivers, but because of Ross’s comments on how the main objective this offseason is to get a top WR, Ireland will definitely get one to save his job. Miami however will have to overpay for Wallace if they really want him. As for Welker, I can’t see him coming back to Miami but if all the other top options are gone and he’s available it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Edelman and Gibson are decent cheaper options if the top guys don’t sign with Miami.
Keller, Bennett, Cook, Davis, and Myers are all better receivers than Fasano. Davis is extremely talented but has the most baggage of the group so I don’t see Miami going after him. Myers can catch but not block, and Walker can block but not catch. Bennett is the only complete all around tight end in the group. Keller and Cook are below average blockers, but are very good receivers. If Miami signs Keller or Cook as their #1, they should sign Walker or Fasano as their #2. . If Miami gets Bennett I would let Fasano walk and draft a cheaper TE in the draft like Escobar, Kelce, or McDonald.
Without Long, Miami still has 4 starters, but it’s still not such a strong group. Martin was terrible at RT but a switch back to his natural position will better suit his play. Richie Incognito is getting old and expensive, but did just make his 1st pro bowl as an alternate. John Jerry however is still a big question mark. He played the most snaps of any Dolphin this season, but his play at times was average. I feel he might play better at RT, because he is overweight and will do less pulling. If Miami is looking to draft or sign a T, I would prefer a RT to keep Martin at LT. None of the OG are worth signing after Levitre and Vasquez. All these players will want huge money that Miami should use towards playmakers.
With Starks getting the tag Miami maintains its offensive line but still needs a better pass rusher. Odrick is not fit for a 4-3 DE, at least not as a starter. He makes a solid DE/DT backup. Miami is never going to beat Tom Brady with the pass rush they have now. They need to add another DE who can get double digit sacks a season. A good pass rush is the key to a great secondary. Miami finished 7th in sacks this season, but they got most of their sacks in a few games, and weren’t always consistent. Most importantly it wasn’t always there when they needed it. I don’t think Olivier Vernon is ready to be a starter, he looks much better as a rotational and special teams player. Miami’s #1 target should be Michael Bennett. He is young and has a lot of upside. He would be a great complimentary player across Wake. Freeny, Umenyiora, and Abraham would be short term replacements while Miami develops Vernon and draft another DE. Dorsey and Knighton would make solid DT backups for cheap. Dorsey was a top 5 pick but drafted to a team that played 3-4 when he is better suited for the 4-3, so I think he could be a sleeper. Hill could be a starter but because of all the depth on the Lions he became expendable.
LB – Miami’s linebackers were excellent this season. Karlos Dansby was playing with injury most of the time, so his play wasn’t that stellar but he is a huge part of this defense. Kevin Burnett really bounced back from last season and was amazing. Koa Misi has stepped up but not in the way we expected. When he was drafted his strong suit was covering tight ends, but he is playing much better against the run now. The one concern I have with this position is depth. Misi’s backup is Jason Trusnik who is solid, but who comes in if Dansby or Burnett get injured? I haven’t heard much about Josh Kaddu so I don’t know too much about him. Anyways depth is something they can fill in free agency or the depth as long as they get solid cheap young players. The one problem with Dansby and Burnett besides injury concern is their age, both are already over 30.
This and WR are Miami’s worst positions. At the end of the season they were so thin, Miami would sign a CB on Tuesday and he would start the following Sunday. After Sean Smith, Miami had no talent or depth after him. Richard Marshall went down early in the season, but that didn’t matter too much because he wasn’t playing well anyways. Jimmy Wilson is terrible at CB but solid at FS so he should stick to that. Nolan Carroll hasn’t showed anything and is a free agent after this year so he may not come back. Dimitri Patterson looked solid in the 2 games he played with Miami. The other CB’s on the team R.J. Stanford, Bryan McCann, and De’Andre Presley didn’t really do anything so they are not really relevant. There are a couple of interesting free agents to look at. Miami needs to double down on corners this offseason. Smith is obviously not coming back so Miami needs to find a #1 CB. Cox, Rodgers-Cromartie, Grimes, Lewis, and Houston are all solid options. Grimes and Cox have injury problems, and Rodgers-Cromartie has a mental problem. He is still extremely talented but maybe with a new team he can reach his full potential. These corners will be expensive so Miami may look to the draft.
Reed and Goldson are the only FS I would consider an upgrade over Clemons. Clemons will hit the market and it could look like he won’t be back. Reed will probably sign with the Patriots or some other championship contending team with money. Goldson was excellent for the 49ers this past season and would make a great tandem with Jones. Adam Schefter already reported that Goldson will not re-sign.
Since the offense needs help right way I feel they will fix it more towards free agency, and the defense doesn’t need as much help right away they will fix it more towards the draft. Let’s say Miami re-signs Fasano, Garner, and McDaniel, and in free agency sign Wallace, Keller, and Woodson. Theoretically I would want Wallace, the Bennett brothers, and Goldson but I think just getting Wallace and Keller is more realistic and cheaper. I don’t think Miami will sign Woodson, but I still think it would be a good signing while Miami develop a FS.
After free agency Miami’s team can look like this.
QB – Tannehill, Moore, Devlin
RB – Miller, Thomas, Thigpen, Gray
FB – Lane
WR – Wallace, Hartline, Bess, Binns, Matthews
TE – Keller, Fasano, Clay, Egnew
OT – Martin, Yeatman, Garner
OG – Incognito, Jerry
C – Pouncey, Samuda
DE – Wake, Vernon, Shelby
DT – Soliai, Starks, Odrick, McDaniel, Randall
LB – Dansby, Burnett, Misi, Trusnik, Robinson
CB – Marshall, Patterson, Carroll
S – Jones, Woodson, Wilson
ST – Carpenter, Fields, Denney
With Wallace and Keller, Miami basically fixes its problems offensively. If Miami moves Jerry over to RT, they will need to add a RG. On defense they need to add a DE, 2 CB, and a FS. After Wallace, Keller, and Woodson, Miami should have around $15 million left in cap space.
Miami has the 12th pick in the 1st round. They have 2 picks in the 2nd round (42 and 54), and 2 picks in the 3rd round (77 and 82). Miami has one 4th round pick (possibly 2), one 5th round pick, and 2 7th round picks.
Miami’s Needs – RG, DE, 2 CB, FS
G – C. Warmack, J. Cooper, D. Thomas, B. Jones, D, Quessenberry, T. Armstead, O. Uzzi
DE – D. Moore, B. Werner, E. Ansah, A. Okafor, S. Montgomery, C. Lemonier, T. Carradine
CB – D. Milliner, D. Trufant, X. Rhodes, L. Ryan, J. Poyer, B. Wreh-Wilson, D. Amerson, B.W. Webb
S – K. Vaccaro, E. Reid, M. Elam, T.J. McDonald, J.J. Wilcox, B. Rambo, P. Thomas, J. Cyprien
This mock draft is all according to what Miami does in free agency according to my offseason guide.
Round 1 – Desmond Trufant CB Washington
Rhodes is also an option here. However I think Trufant is more of what Ireland is looking for. Rhodes has the same skill set as Sean Smith, as they both excel in press-man coverage. Miami wants to play less press coverage. Trufant showed off his elite speed at the combine and is currently #3 on Mike Mayock’s CB rankings. Trufant has good hips, feet, and excellent in man coverage. His 2 cons are average ball skills, and shaky run defense. Neither of those problems really concerns me, because if Trufant can shut a receiver down with no safety help, Reshad Jones can freelance and make plays.
Round 2a – Alex Okafor DE Texas
Okafor would make a great pair across from Wake. Okafor fits perfectly into a 4-3 DE and his frame (6’4 260) is similar to Wake’s. Okafor can switch off with Vernon and Odrick until he fully develops into a starter. I fear that Okafor may not be available here, and the only option after that is Montgomery who has work ethic issues. This is why I would want Miami to get Umenyiora or Freeny but they both could get more money elsewhere.
Round 2b – Jonathan Cyprien FS Florida International
Cyprien has the man coverage skills Miami needs to stop tight ends. He does come from a small school, which is why Woodson will help with his development.
Round 3a – Logan Ryan CB Rutgers
Miami doubles down on corners in the draft with Trufant and Ryan. They are both similar players and I think will complement each other nicely. Ryan also has very good man coverage skills, and has the frame Ireland is looking for.
Round 3b – David Quessenberry OL San Jose State
Round 4a – Travis Kelce TE Cincinnati
Miami is reportedly very interested in Kelce. Even if Miami signs Keller and Fasano they can still use more talent and depth. Egnew is very likely to be cut, and who knows if Clay will ever reach his potential.
Round 4b- Kenny Stills WR Oklahoma
As of now they do not have two 4th round picks, but are expected to get this from compensatory picks. Stills was the #1 receiver for Oklahoma this past year and would make a nice 4th receiver for Miami.
Round 5 – Omeregie Uzzi OL Georgia Tech
A perfect fit for the zone-blocking scheme.
In the 7th round Miami should target a RB, LB, or Safety for depth.
To me this would be a playoff team that could develop into Super Bowl contenders.
QB – Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Pat Devlin
HB – Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Marcus Thigpen, Jonas Gray
FB – Jorvorskie Lane
(H-Back – Anthony Fasano)
TE – Dustin Keller, Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce, Charles Clay
OT – Jonathan Martin, John Jerry, Will Yeatman, Nate Garner
OG – Richie Incognito, David Quessenberry, Omeregie Uzzi
C – Mike Pouncey, Josh Samuda
DE – Cameron Wake, Alex Okafor, Olivier Vernon, Derrick Shelby
DT – Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick, Kheeston Randall, Tony McDaniel
LB – Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, Koa Misi, Jason Trusnik, Josh Kaddu
CB –Desmond Trufant, Logan Ryan, Richard Marshall, Dmitri Patterson, Nolan Carroll
S – Reshad Jones, Charles Woodson, Jonathan Cyprien, Jimmy Wilson
The WR and CB position would now have tons of talent and depth, and with Okafor we get a pass rusher across from Wake. A great pass rush is the only way you can beat Brady or any other top QB. The Offensive line looks better as Quessenberry and Uzzi are both perfect fits for the zone-blocking scheme and can lock down the guard positions for the future when Incognito eventually leaves. As for receivers, Tannehill took more sacks than he had to last year simply because no one was open. A lot of teams can stop the run game, but I doubt any team can stop Wallace, Hartline, Bess, Keller, and Lamar Miller. Of course even with this explosive offense, if Tannehill somehow manages to plays like Sanchez this team isn’t going anywhere. Miami will run more read-option plays which could make their offense even more explosive.
Obviously Miami is in a great cap situation (Thank you Ireland) but if they need more cap they can cut Carpenter, Incognito, Marshall, and Patterson. Cutting those 4 players will save almost $15 million in cap space (including dead money). I doubt Miami does this, but it will be used if absolutely needed. However let’s say Miami drafts Dustin Hopkins in the 5th round and cut Carpenter that will save them around $2.3 million. Cutting Incognito and drafting a guard in the 3rd round will save them around 3.5 million. Cutting Marshall ($3.4 after dead money) and Patterson ($4.6) clears up around $8 million, which they could use towards a top CB but there is none on the market, so I would just rather keep the depth. I am very anti- contract restructuring, because all it does it increases your cap space that year, and add more money which is usually guaranteed to the next year. A team like Miami with plenty of cap space and rebuilding does not need to restructure contracts.
My goals for the team for the upcoming ’13-’14 season are
35 Att/G, 21 Comp/G, 250 Y/G (4000), 25 TD 10 Int, and 28 sacks
400 rushes 1800 yards (4.5 avg.), 15 TD 5 FumL
It’s hard to say what Miami’s running game is going to look like next year with Miller because we haven’t seen him as a starter yet. Tannehill will probably run a little more also.
3.7 Avg. 90 Y/G, 8 TD
It’s hard to see how Miami’s running game will improve next year since the front 7 is returning. With Odrick as a DE, the run game is a little better. However Dansby was battling injury struggles and if he is healthy he can make more plays.
3 sacks per game, 55 Pct, 215 PassYds/G, 10 TD 20 Int
3 Return Touchdowns, 0 Return Touchdowns Allowed
Each one of these goals are slight improvements from last year. I think these goals are all realistic and if Miami achieves them they will be a playoff team.