The Miami Dolphins, and the rest of the NFL, are preparing for another round of free agency as the calendar closes in on the May 12 magical date. During most of free agency, the league uses the players a team loses, along with the new contracts a team signs, in an algorithm to determine compensatory draft picks awarded for the following year's Draft. The league ends those considerations on May 12, meaning teams can now sign players without endangering any potential compensatory picks they will receive for the 2017 Draft.
The Dolphins will be able to start signing players without risking picks they may be awarded for losing defensive end Olivier Vernon, running back Lamar Miller, wide receiver Rishard Matthews, and defensive end Derrick Shelby.
What is available in this next round of free agency? We look at some of the top options still available in free agency:
Arian Foster, RB
Foster could be near the top of the wish list for the Dolphins. They did draft a running back in Kenyan Drake, and Jay Ajayi appears to be set to be the starter next year, but a veteran runner like Foster could be interesting. Foster is likely looking for the perfect fit this offseason, but he also is coming off an Achilles tear and may not be considered a feature back anywhere in the league. (Note: Foster was released by the Houston Texans, not becoming a free agent via an expiring contract. Therefore, he would not factor into the compensatory draft pick calculations no matter when he signs.)
Leon Hall, CB
There are reports that there is mutual interest between the Dolphins and Hall, who would like to be reunited with Vance Joseph, his former defensive backs coach in Cincinnati now serving as Miami's defensive coordinator. The Dolphins have several young cornerbacks they are going to be utilizing this year, and a veteran could help stabilize the position group.
Jason Jones, DE
The Dolphins and Jones have been floating around each other for a little while this offseason, and adding him as soon as the May 12 deadline passes should not be a surprise. The Dolphins can use the depth along the defensive end, though they do have several young players with potential on the depth chart as well.
Amini Silatolu, Louis Vasquez, Jahri Evans G
The Dolphins seem to have just about solved the offensive line questions heading into this offseason, particularly with the selection of Laremy Tunsil with the 13th overall pick in the Draft, but that does not mean the team is done looking for guard help. Assuming Tunsil is starting at left guard this year, that gives Miami Branden Albert at left tackle, Laremy, Mike Pouncey at center, and Ja'Wuan James at right tackle, with the right guard spot still a potential question mark. Adding a veteran to the battle between Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas, Jamil Douglas, and Jermon Bushrod cannot be ruled out. (Note: Vasquez was released by the Denver Broncos and Evans was released by the New Orleans Saints, not becoming free agents via expiring contracts. Therefore, they would not factor into the compensatory draft pick calculations no matter when they sign.)
Dominique Easley, DT
The Dolphins could be in the market for additional players at the defensive tackle position, and Easley could fill that role. Ndamukong Suh is obviously starting at one defensive tackle position, but the other spot is currently filled by either Earl Mitchell or Jordan Phillips. Mitchell was not what Miami had hoped for last year (though, that could be said of most of the defensive line), and Phillips may still need time to develop. Easley could, at a minimum, rotate into the lineup. (Note: Easley was released by the New England Patriots, not becoming a free agent via an expiring contract. Therefore, he would not factor into the compensatory draft pick calculations no matter when he signs.)
Anquan Boldin, WR
The Dolphins are probably not in the wide receiver market at this point, with Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Matt Hazel, Griff Whalen, and rookies Leonte Carroo, and Jakeem Grant all either locks to make the roster or players who are capable of making the argument that Miami should keep them.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB
The Dolphins will not be in the market for Fitzpatrick, or any quarterback, but Dolphins fans should keep an eye on Fitzpatrick. He has been an an impasse with the New York Jets all offseason, but at some point, one side could finall budge and the veteran quarterback return to his 2015 team.
Randy Starks, DT
The same piece about defensive tackles that is written above for Easley applies to Starks. The Dolphins could look to bring back their former Pro Bowl player as a situation defensive tackle and a run stuffer. It is an option, though not a likely one. (Note: Starks was released by the Cleveland Browns, not becoming a free agent via an expiring contract. Therefore, he would not factor into the compensatory draft pick calculations no matter when he signs.)
Greg Hardy, DE
The Dolphins will not be interested in Hardy.