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Ask The Phinsider: Free Agency Edition

As we enter the offseason, Friday tends to be the slowest day in terms of traffic to this site.  So I'm going to try to keep Friday's posts on the smaller side - barring any breaking news. 

So I've received a couple of e-mails over the past 2 weeks that I wanted to respond to on the site rather than privately - mainly because my opinions might spark some debate.  Today is the first one asking me about free agency.

Q: I've enjoyed some of the pieces you've done on the Dolphins' offseason needs and how they might look to improve in those areas.  And there are a couple of players I hope the Dolphins make a run at in free agency.  But you haven't said who you hope the Dolphins go after.  And you also haven't stated which of the big 5 free agents you want the Dolphins to bring back.  Care to share?

First of all, I want to note that I have more of those "team needs" posts coming over the next week or so.  So far, I've only really addressed two positions - offensive line and wide receiver.  But as we are all aware, there are many more needs the Fins have to address.

Moving on, let me first talk about the players I hope the Dolphins bring back.  And Yeremiah Bell is at the top of my list.  He's shown that he's a difference maker at strong safety.  Sure, he's 31 years old.  But he clearly has at least 3 bigtime seasons left in him.  And safety is one of the lowest paid positions - so he isn't going to cost too much.

I also think that bringing back Vernon Carey is a good idea.  He didn't play as well as I'd hoped in 2008, but he wasn't bad, either.  And the fact of the matter is the only upgrade available over Vernon in free agency is Jordan Gross.  And he's going to be more expensive.  If you can get Carey back with a reasonable contract - say $6 million per year - I think it has to be done.  I also hope Andre Goodman sticks around for a couple more years.  He really came on strong last year and could potentially be even better in '09 as he progresses within this system.

I would then let Channing Crowder - who I'd like ot have back but is likely seeking too much money - and Renaldo Hill hit the open market.  Ideally, I'd replace Hill with Rams FS O.J. Atogwe.  Atogwe is just noe entering the prime of his career (he'll be 28 in June).  He's a true ball-hawk, picking off 13 passes over the past 2 years.  He's fast and he can hit hard.  He'd make a perfect pairing with Yeremiah Bell and, because safety is a fairly low-priced position, wouldn't cost too much.  Of course, there is always the threat of Atogwe being franchised by the Rams - especially because the franchise tag for safeties is fairly reasonable and the Rams have a lot of cap room.

If Atogwe is franchised or if the Dolphins decide he's not a player they want to spend money on, I'd say bringing back Renaldo Hill is a good idea.  I'd then draft a safety to compete with Hill.

I mentioned that I'd let Crowder walk if he wanted too much money, so let me quickly address that.  I think that the front office feels they can get a player who is just as good, if not better, playing the inside in a 3-4 than Crowder is.  Channing is really more suited to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 and I could see some 4-3 teams throwing lots of money his way.  If that's the case, I'd love to see Karlos Dansby in a Dolphin uniform next year.  But he might also be too rich for Miami's blood.  Bart Scott would also make a fine replacement, but he's going to cost just as much.

So I think what the Dolphins might do is sign a cheaper ILB - a guy like Andra Davis, perhaps - and then draft an ILB somewhere on the first day to battle with the cheaper vet they bring in.

Along the offensive line, we've already talked about how center Jason Brown would be a great fit in Miami.  But it's unlikely the Ravens would let a young stud center Brown get away.  Honestly, I don't foresee any big names coming from free agency to bolster the line.  I think the Dolphins would do themselves well to simply re-sign Carey, hope for Donald Thomas and Justin Smiley to be 100%, and draft some lineman (particularly one who can play both guard and center as well as bring in another tackle to improve depth).

I also think cornerback needs an obvious upgrade.  But it's unlikely Nnamdo Asomugha will break free of Oakland's grip.  Even if he did, he would be the most expensive corner ever and many teams would try bidding on him.  A cheaper idea might be Houston's Dunta Robinson.  But he reportedly likes playing in Houston and hopes to remain a Texan.

Alright.  So I know I've rambled on and on - but damn do I love free agency.  And I was asked for my own personal wishlist.  So to close this out, I've provided two wishlist scenarios.  One that includes Asomugha and one that does not:

Wishlist A: Nnamdi Asomugha, Vernon Carey, Yeremiah Bell, Renaldo Hill, Andre Goodman

Wishlist B: Dunta Robinson, O.J. Atogwe, Vernon Carey, Yeremiah Bell, Andre Goodman

And, finally, if the Dolphins can't - or just don't - sign Asomugha, Robinson, or Atogwe, there are 5 players (in no particular order) that I'd hope to see the Dolphins show some interest in:

Jason Brown, Karlos Dansby, Bryant McFadden, Bart Scott, and Jordan Gross (if Carey isn't re-signed).

You'll notice that I don't bring up any outside linebackers.  Yes, the Dolphins need another pass rusher.  But I think that can be had with 1 of Miami's first 2 draft picks in April's draft.

As always, your thoughts below...