Although Miami has filled several holes in free agency and the draft, the team continues to turn over every stone in search of finding talented players to add to the team’s roster. Here are five veteran free agents, who could be of value to the Dolphins in 2016.
When healthy, there are very few running backs in the NFL as good as Arian Foster. Over the course of his seven-year career, Foster managed to finish a full 16 -game season only twice. Foster played in a total of 76 games over the course of his career, recording 6,472 yards and 54 touchdowns. That kind of production is worth the risk for any team in search of a Pro-Bowl running back. Injury history may be a concern, but the Dolphins have acquired several players this off season with previous injury history. If the Dolphins don’t feel comfortable in Jay Ajayi or Kenyan Drake (which they should) the team could still sign Arian Foster. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Miami has "remained interested" in the 29-year old running back, and could meet with him in the coming weeks. If he can remain healthy, Foster possesses a skill-set very few running backs share. He's a magician with the football in his hands, using his patience and quick feet to make defenders miss. He would be a welcomed addition to a young Dolphins’ backfield, in need of a veteran presence.
The Dolphins haven’t done much over the last decade, so remembering Knowshon Moreno’s days in South Beach isn't very difficult. He looked promising for the Dolphins at the start of the 2014 season and made an impact when healthy in Denver during his early years. Unfortunately, Moreno has suffered several season-ending injuries, and his health would be a concern for any NFL franchise. When healthy, Moreno has proven to be an explosive piece to any offense. During the 2013 season - when Adam Gase was the Bronco’s offensive coordinator - Moreno had his best season as a pro, rushing for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns. When asked where he would prefer to play, Moreno named the Denver Broncos before adding Miami to his list of desired teams.
"Denver," he said. "Here in Denver it’s always a beauty. Wherever, really. It doesn't matter. I have a lot of ties here in Denver, also Miami. Any of those, or any other teams—it doesn't matter."
Yesterday, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported the Dolphins "are not interested" in signing Knowshon Moreno. Things can change, but as of now it seems the Dolphins don't believe he is an upgrade over their current group of running backs.
For old times' sake
Teams don’t win in today’s NFL without being able to defend the pass, and Miami’s secondary ranked in the bottom of the league in 2015. Throughout the off-season, Miami showed very little interest in free-agent cornerback Leon Hall, despite his ties to new Dolphins’ defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. Hall has proven he can be a very good cornerback in the NFL, primarily as a nickel cornerback. During his nine-year career, Hall played exclusively for the Cincinnati Bengals. He combined for 470 tackles, 26 interceptions and 111 passes defended. The 31-year-old cornerback is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, and is ready and waiting for his next opportunity. Hall will likely sign a deal in the next few weeks, and the Dolphins will continue to be "rumored" destination.
Adding Hall to the Dolphins’ secondary would add much needed leadership to the team’s cornerback group. His experience with Vance Joseph would make his transition seamless, and he would compete immediately along with Xavien Howard, Tony Lippett, and Bobby McCain to ensure the best group of cornerbacks see the field.
Though not the player he once was, Antonio Cromartie would be a perfect scheme fit for the Miami Dolphins' attacking defense. At 6-2, 210-pounds, Cromartie fits the mold of a Vance Joseph cornerback. He’s big, he’s physical, and he plays well in press coverage. Joseph has stated he wants cornerbacks that can be physical at the line, knocking receivers off their intended routes. Throughout his ten-year NFL career, Cromartie has amassed 403 combined tackles, 31 interceptions and 114 passes defended. Unlike Hall, Cromartie could fill the role opposite of Byron Maxwell as the team's #2 cornerback. Ideally, Miami would prefer one of their younger players win the starting job, but could rely on a veteran to fill the void.
With the addition of Cromartie, the Dolphins would have two starting cornerbacks with similar size, traits, and experience. However, at 32-years of age, it is unlikely Cromartie has much left in the tank.
Like Hall, Boykin is best suited as a nickel cornerback. During his four-year career, Boykin recorded 145 tackles, 8 interceptions and 7 passes defended. Though his numbers aren't quite as impressive as those listed previously, he's significantly younger and continues to get better everyday. It is however, alarming that the cornerback starved Carolina Panthers released Boykin earlier this offseason. He will be a coveted piece to some defensive coordinator's secondary, likely finding a job prior to the start of training camp. Boykin doesn't fit the prototypical size of a Vance Joseph cornerback, but neither does Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and the team claimed him off waivers. The closer we get to training camp, the more clear things will become.
It is anyone’s guess as to what the Dolphins do between now and the beginning of the season. All 32 teams will begin making cuts shortly, on their way to finalizing their team's 53-man roster. During this time, good players will get cut, and teams will bring those players in to fill potential needs on their roster. Whether Miami chooses to do so now or later, the team will likely add several players before the beginning of the season. All we can do now is hope that Adam Gase is the guy, to lead the Miami Dolphins back to their glory days.