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Bargain Hunting: Free agent fits for the Dolphins

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The Dolphins have plenty of roster holes to fill, and many free agents are still on the open market.

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

The first wave of free agency has come and gone and most of the big ticket players have found new homes. Le’Veon Bell joined the New York Jets, Nick Foles flew south to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Earl Thomas swapped coastlines to team up with the Baltimore Ravens. With the Miami Dolphins sitting out and saving cap space for the team’s rebuilding project, who’s left to help fill Miami’s vast set of needs?

Thus far, the Dolphins have signed Dwayne Allen and Clive Walford to bolster a tight end group that is now the deepest position on the team. General manager Chris Grier also added former New England Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe to provide depth and competition at cornerback, while also bringing on journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as a stopgap option before a new face of the franchise is drafted. Most recently, Miami acquired former Jaguars guard Chris Reed to add to an interior o-line rotation in desperate need of help.

Understandably, the Dolphins are targeting lower-tier free agents that can hopefully provide a foundation and competition on a roster that needs depth and youth throughout, but where to next? It’s clear the front office is planning on addressing many of the team’s roster needs in the draft, but with only so many draft picks, there are holes that must be filled through other avenues. I’ve identified two players whom I believe would be good bargains with high upside for Miami to target over the coming weeks.

Cassius Marsh

Cassius Marsh was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks and has since been a rotational defensive end for three teams. His first career sack and forced fumble came against none other than the Dolphins on opening weekend of the 2016 NFL season against Ryan Tannehill, a game most Dolphins fans remember for Kenny Stills’ infamous drop on a wide open throw that should have resulted in a go-ahead score. Since then, Marsh was traded to the New England Patriots, where he shared a locker room with then Patriots linebackers coach, and current Dolphins head coach, Brian Flores.

After a brief stint in New England, Marsh moved on to play for the San Francisco 49ers. This past season, he played in all 16 games, starting three, and recorded career highs with 38 total tackles and 5.5 sacks. Given Marsh’s young age (26) and the upward trend on his production, I believe he’d make a shrewd signing for the Dolphins on a low-cost contract. 49ers fans were surprised by Marsh’s release given his production last season, the fact that the team clearly saw a future with him after exercising his 2019 option, and the fact that he would’ve provided a solid depth option behind Dee Ford, who San Francisco recently acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dolphins fans know all too well how a lack of depth can hurt a team when injuries strike, and Marsh is exactly the type of low-risk, high-reward player the team can bring in to round out a defensive line in need of help.

Malik McDowell

Malik McDowell’s case is unique to say the least. As a highly touted prospect out of Michigan State, the young defensive tackle was expected to help anchor the defensive line of the Seattle Seahawks when the team selected him in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Most experts had him pegged as a top-three defensive tackle coming out of a college that year. Unfortunately, a few weeks before training camp, he sustained several serious injuries in an ATV accident and could not play during the 2017 season.

McDowell was then waived with a non-football injury designation in the summer of 2018 and placed on the reserve/non-football injury list. This month, the Seahawks officially waived him, making him an unrestricted free agent.

At just 22-years old, McDowell still has plenty to offer an NFL team. He’s a top-40 draft pick that has yet to play a down in the NFL, giving him both serious upside, but a low floor when it comes to potential. With that in mind, I feel it would be prudent for the Dolphins to explore him as a candidate for a low-level contract, giving him an opportunity to compete on a talent-bare Dolphins defensive line.

Yes, Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor have been progressing at a healthy rate, but depth is key to sustaining success in the NFL, and McDowell can provide competition on the practice field and potentially grow at the pace of a rebuilding team. With his level of raw talent, he may even be able to push for a starting role in the right system.

Poll

Should the Dolphins pursue Cassius Marsh or Malik McDowell?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Cassius Marsh
    (184 votes)
  • 15%
    Malik McDowell
    (284 votes)
  • 67%
    Both
    (1266 votes)
  • 7%
    Neither
    (145 votes)
1879 votes total Vote Now