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Miami Dolphins have Unique Second Opportunity of Success

Things didn't go quite to plan for the Miami Dolphins in 2013. In what was Jeff Ireland's final stand, Miami splashed out on multiple free agents. While those acquisitions failed to turn around the team's fortunes, will Miami get it right this year under rookie General Manager Dennis Hickey?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Very seldom are teams afforded the opportunities that Miami have had in order to turn this franchise around. Far fewer have had a second chance.

Miami is in a unique position of having plenty of cap space for the second year in a row to make a run at the top free agents on the market. And luckily for the Dolphins, many of the positions that need upgrading are furnished with great talent in both free agency and the draft.

Let's focus for a moment on those positions that are in need of a face-lift.  Running back, left tackle, right tackle, left guard, right guard, safety and defensive tackle. Other possibilities include middle linebacker and tight end.

That list may seem daunting, but with an estimated $34 million worth of cap space and a draft so deep with talent, Stephen Ross, Joe Philbin and Dennis Hickey have a great chance at finally getting it right in Miami.

Lets concentrate on free agency. On offense, the first order of the day has to be fixing that offensive line.  Brandon Albert, Eugene Monroe and Roger Saffold are the latest names to circulate through the media, but many more are capable of being substantial upgrades in Anthony Collin, Zane Beadles and Geoff Schwartz to name but a few.

Many may not agree with his possible addition to the team, but running back Maurice Jones-Drew is available on the market.  While he may be past his best years, he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.  His leadership alone would prove invaluable to an offense desperately needing it.  At tight end, Miami need a player to compliment Charles Clay.  If, heaven forbid, Clay gets injured in 2014, the Dolphins are in trouble at the position.

On defense, defensive tackle is the critical piece that the Dolphins need to get right with the expected loss of Paul Soliai and Randy Starks.  At this point, Linval Joseph would be the prize, while Arthur Jones, Jason Hatcher, Henry Melton and B.J. Raji are all distinct possibilities.

As for the safety position, the Dolphins have already held talks with Louis Delmas.  Finding a playmaking free safety to go along with Brent Grimes and Reshad Jones could make Miami's secondary a focal part of the team.

Finally Miami may look to upgrade the middle linebacker position.  Too often last year, the Dolphins were terrible at stopping the run, and the linebackers are just as culpable as the defensive tackles here. Dannell Ellerbe was far from the instinctive and smart ‘quarterback of the defense' that all successful teams need.  With the Dolphins missing out on D'Qwell Jackson, don't be surprised to see Miami upgrading the position in the draft, perhaps even in the first round.

Dennis Hickey needs to attack as many of these players in free agency as possible before filling out the remaining positions in the draft.  Can they do it?  The Dolphins sure do have a unique second opportunity of success.

With the opening of free agency on Tuesday fast approaching, which players would you like to see the Dolphins sign, and why.  Let's hear your thoughts!