Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to everyone! With the 2014 NFL regular season nearly complete, and the Miami Dolphins eliminated from the playoffs (though within reach of their first winning season since 2008), I thought it might be time to put together my wish list for 2014.
Free Agents to Re-Sign
Samson Satele, center - One of the top needs for the Dolphins this year has to be adding depth to the offensive line, and, hopefully, finding a guard or two who can slide into the starting lineup. Mike Pouncey should be moved back to his center role, with Satele a depth option if/when needed.
Jared Odrick, defensive tackle - Odrick is only 26 years old. Miami has to bolster their defensive interior this offseason, something that is letting them down this last portion of the season. Re-signing Odrick could prevent a complete re-build of the unit.
Charles Clay, tight end - There is no question the Dolphins need to re-sign their starting tight end. Clay has been invisible for much of the year as he has battled injuries, but the Miami offense needs Clay.
Jimmy Wilson, safety - The Dolphins have been grooming Wilson as a safety while using him as a nickel cornerback. The 2015 season may be the year that Wilson actually becomes a permanent safety. Even if he is still a reserve at the position, he gives the team flexibility.
A.J. Francis, defensive tackle / Derrick Shelby, defensive end / Michael Thomas, safety (Exclusive Rights Free Agents) - Francis has shown potential when he has been healthy. Shelby is a solid depth player at defensive end. If he was an unrestricted free agent, I probably would allow him to sign somewhere else, freeing up playing time for Dion Jordan and/or Chris McCain, but signing Shelby to a ERFA tender makes sense. Michael Thomas gives the Dolphins flexibility similar to Wilson above.
Salary Cap Cuts
(Some of these contracts could be restructured, allowing the team to retain the player.)
Dannell Ellerbe, linebacker - Savings: $5.65 million
Brian Hartline, wide receiver - Savings: $3.15 million
Randy Starks, defensive tackle - Savings: $5 million
Brandon Gibson, wide receiver - $3.26 million
*Note - Philip Wheeler could also be released, but he would only save the team about $200,000, so I would not count him as a salary cap cut.
Free Agent Signings
The Dolphins are not going to be big spenders this offseason, but they could make enough space to pick up a key free agent or two.
Nick Fairley, defensive tackle
Mike Iupati, guard
Jordan Cameron, tight end
I'm not going to project specific picks for the Dolphins yet, but I will list positions I would consider positional needs I would want to see the Dolphins target.
1. Defensive tackle - Even if the Dolphins sign someone in free agency like Fairley, drafting a young defensive tackle who can be the heir apparent for Odrick and/or Mitchell would make sense.
2. Linebacker - Depth at a minimum, potential starter if possible. Miami's starting linebackers next year should be Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi, and, potentially, Dion Jordan. Adding someone who could challenge Misi or Jordan would be the move.
3. Wide receiver/tight end (This is most likely a WR, since Miami's TEs should be Clay, Dion Sims, Arthur Lynch, while the team is looking for the replacement for Hartline and Gibson who were salary cap casualties.)
4. Running back - A power running back to compliment Lamar Miller.
5. Cornerback - Depth.
6. Offensive tackle - Depth.
7. Quarterback - Depth. Assuming Miami does not re-sign Matt Moore this year, this could be for the second-string position.
What is your wish list for Miami this offseason?