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Top free agent targets for Miami Dolphins 2016 by position

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The NFL's free agency period opens in just over two weeks. What names could be out there for the Miami Dolphins to target this offseason? We take a look at some of the top names at Miami's biggest positions of need.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins will likely not be among the league's top spenders this offseason, at least not like they were last year with the signing of Ndamukong Suh. The team could still create the salary-cap space needed to sign some high-quality starters though the money required may be better used re-signing their own players.

That said, Miami could use some veterans at critical positions this offseason, building depth in the draft and allowing the younger players to develop while the veterans start in 2016. Where could the team be looking to sign a free agent, and what players are, as of now, going to be available?

Guards

This is the most likely place for Miami to look for a veteran. The team went into last year with three young players manning to two guard spots, and it did not work. The Dolphins could sign a veteran to man one of the spots, then let the trio of Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas, and Jamil Douglas fight for the other position, while potentially selecting an offensive lineman early in the NFL Draft in April.

1 - Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints - Cut
2 - Evan Mathis, Denver Broncos - Unrestricted
3 - Alex Boone, San Francisco 49ers - Unrestricted
4 - Richie Incognito, Buffalo Bills - Unrestricted
5 - Ramon Foster, Pittsburgh Steelers - Unrestricted

Linebacker

It seems like every couple of years, the Dolphins are shopping the free agent market or the Draft for new linebackers. We are back in that routine this year, with the team likely looking for two players to upgrade the position. Koa Misi has been solid, though not spectacular, and he was injured for part of last year. Kelvin Sheppard manned the middle of the field, but is a free agent this year and is not expected to be re-signed.

Middle Linebacker

1 - Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos - Restricted
2 - James Larinaitis, Los Angeles Rams - Cut
3 - Rolando McClain, Dallas Cowboys - Unrestricted
4 - Danny Trevathan, Denver Broncos - Unrestricted
5 - Derrick Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs - Unrestricted

Outside Linebacker

1 - Tahir Whitehead, Detroit Lions - Unrestricted
2 - Danny Lansanah, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Restricted
3 - Mark Barron, Los Angeles Rams - Unrestricted (Safety/LB)
4 - Vincent Rey, Cincinnati Bengals - Unrestricted
5 - Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings - Unrestricted

Cornerback

It feels more like the Dolphins will address cornerback through the Draft, but that does not mean there are not possible free agents the team could consider. The team has to decide what they are going to do with Brent Grimes this offseason, keep him at his $9.5 million salary cap number, work out a restructured deal, or release him, but, even if Grimes continues to play in South Florida, the team has to address the starting position opposite him.

1 - Josh Norman, Carolina Panthers - Unrestricted
2 - Sean Smith, Kansas City Chiefs - Unrestricted
3 - Leon Hall, Cincinnati Bengals - Unrestricted
4 - Janoris Jenkins, Los Angeles Rams - Unrestricted
5 - Casey Hayward, Green Bay Packers - Unrestricted

Safety

Reshad Jones needs someone next to him each week. Michael Thomas could develop into that player, but the team may not be ready to trust him as the 16 game starter.

1 - Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs - Unrestricted
2 - Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers - Unrestricted
3 - Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati Bengals - Unrestricted
4 - Tashaun Gipson, Cleveland Browns - Unrestricted
5 - Michael Griffin, Tennessee Titans - Cut

Tight End

The tight ends disappointed last year though that could be more of the team asking them to be sixth offensive linemen rather than pass catchers. Jordan Cameron, who signed as a free agent last year, is scheduled to account for $9.5 million against the salary cap next season, which could make the team re-look his roster spot. If they do release Cameron, they may need to look to free agency to add a red-zone threat tight end.

1 - Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts - Unrestricted
2 - Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers - Unrestricted
3 - Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts - Unrestricted
4 - Zach Miller, Chicago Bears - Unrestricted
5 - Jared Cook, Los Angeles Rams - Cut

Defensive End (/3-4 OLB)

The Dolphins' need for a defensive end all depends on if they work out a deal with, or franchise tag, Olivier Vernon. If Vernon is back in 2016, Miami does not need to stress a defensive end. If he signs elsewhere, the Dolphins have to look for someone to replace him. Consider Vernon number one on this list, so:

2 - Von Miller, Denver Broncos - Unrestricted
3 - Robert Ayers, New York Giants - Unrestricted
4 - Chris Long, Los Angeles Rams - Cut
5 - Bruce Irvin, Seattle Seahawks - Unrestricted
6 - Derrick Shelby, Miami Dolphins - Unrestricted

Running Back

Similar to the defensive end needs, the Dolphins may have a need at running back if Lamar Miller leaves the team in free agency this offseason. The team could elect to give the starting spot to Jay Ajayi, but they would likely look to sign another runner to go with him while Damien Williams continues to serve as the third-string runner.

1 - C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos - Restricted
2 - Matt Forte, Chicago Bears - Unrestricted
3 - Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Unrestricted
4 - Bilal Powell, New York Jets - Unrestricted
5 - Reggie Bush, San Francisco 49ers - Unrestricted

*****

Miami has about $9 million in salary cap space as of Monday morning. They will likely make several more salary-cap savings moves over the next two weeks, freeing up space to address some of these needs and position themselves for the NFL Draft in April. The team is not likely to make a splash this year - meaning players like Von Miller are not really on the table - but that does not mean they will not be active when the free agency period opens on March 9.

Do you agree with these rankings? Who was forgotten?