Now that a new collective bargaining agreement is signed, the NFL can now shift it’s a focus to the new league year and the start of free agency. As of now, the new league year is set to begin officially on Wednesday afternoon. But with the legal-tampering period set to start at noon, lots of news and rumors will start to surface. And if the whirlwind of moves we saw made on Sunday afternoon is any indication, there’s going to be a lot more over the next 72 hours.
Here’s a look at some of the top free agents and how they could fit with the Miami Dolphins.
The Usual Suspects
Whenever one of Bill Belichick’s assistants gets a job with a new team, it’s easy to connect the dots. So, just like we’ve seen with Tennessee and Detriot in the past, the Dolphins will likely have plenty of interest in several former New England transplants. After all, Miami had significant interest in defensive end Trey Flowers last season, and it would surprise no one if Flores and the Dolphins have their eyes set on this year’s group of impending free agents.
Joe Thuney, Offensive Guard
No guard on the open market will cash in quite like Joey Thuney will this offseason—and rightfully so. According to PFF, Thuney allowed only one sack in 2019 and finished the season with an overall grade of 77.4. He might not be the best-run blocker in the league, but he’s extremely efficient in the passing game. Adding a player of his caliber to a struggling offensive line would help the Dolphins immensely. However, I don’t foresee him signing with Miami, because he is going to get PAID on the open market. With that said, there’s arguably no better player on the open market, that fits what the team needs, like Thuney.
On the lone TD drive of the game, the #Patriots had LG Joe Thuney block Aaron Donald 1v1 twice in key situations, and Thuney won both times. Thuney has tackle-like skills. Always balanced, great core strength, quick feet, knows how to use his arms/hands. Underrated player. pic.twitter.com/MQQaWpdZLj— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) February 7, 2019
Logan Ryan, Cornerback
The Dolphins need lots of help in the secondary, and landing a player like Logan Ryan, who already has familiarity in the system, seems like a glove fit. However, according to Pro Football Focus, Ryan allowed 80 receptions on 114 targets, the most in the NFL last season. Nevertheless, a trio of Howard, Needham, and Ryan could be one of the better young groups in all of football.
Ted Karras, Center
When Miami decided to release veteran center Daniel Kilgore, the perception around the league was that the team could have their eyes already set on an upgrade in free agency. The most obvious, of course, is Patriots’ center, Ted Karras. And although he has plenty of familiarity with the coaching staff, Karras’s numbers, according to PFF, were average at best. He finished the 2019 season with 64.5 overall grade and struggled in both facets of the game. N”
Kyle Van Noy, Outside Linebacker
When taking one look over Miami’s roster, it is obvious as to what the team’s biggest needs are outside of quarterback—the offensive line and defensive line. Van Noy has been a staple of New England’s defense for several years and has proved to be an adequate pass-rusher in New England. He would add another chess piece to Flores’ defense.
Kyle Van Noy is supremely underrated outside of New England. Absolutely lights out throughout the playoffs - pic.twitter.com/LOIUPadhAY— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) July 24, 2019
Melvin Gordon, Running Back
Miami’s ground attack finished 32nd in the NFL in 2019 with a pedestrian 72 yards per game. And although a lot of people hate the idea of paying big money to veteran running back, the Dolphins have the cap space and resources to do so. Gordon is a three-down back that would compliment whichever rookie Miami selects in April. That’s right, signing Gordon DOES NOT mean Miami should avoid the position in April. And as Pro Football Network’s Matthew Cannata has said many times on the podcast, Gordon has been a target of the Dolphins for the last several months. Run Melvin Run.
Jack Conklin, Offensive Tackle
We all remember Conklin from the infamous ‘body bag’ incident in Miami. But at the end of the day, he remains one of the best young tackles in football and a player that would solidify the blindside of a rookie left-handed quarterback, if that’s the direction the Dolphins choose to go. Last season, Conklin finished just outside the top-10, according to PFF. However, if his upward trajectory is any indication, his best football is still ahead. In the end, however, his price tag will likely be too much. But that shouldn’t stop the Dolphins if they want to make a massive splash in FA, and significantly improve the offensive line in the process.
Connor McGovern, Center
As we mentioned above, with Miami declining Kilgore’s tender, the Dolphins are now active in the market for a starting center. And although Karras makes the most sense based on his familiarity with Coach Flores, Denver’s Connor McGovern was the better player in 2019. Per PFF, McGovern finished the season with a 71.9 overall grade and proved to be one of the best pass-blocking centers in all of football.
Mackensie Alexander, Cornerback
If the Dolphins plan to keep Bobby McCain at safety, the team should start looking for a viable option at nickel. Sure, Nik Needham had a monster season in 2019, but he might be better suited to play on the boundary, if the team can’t find an adequate upgrade in free agency. Alexander is another one of my 2016 pre-draft crushes, and although he hasn’t had a perfect NFL career, there’s still plenty of time for Gerald Alexander and the rest of the Dolphins’ defensive staff to bring out his full potential.
Graham Glasgow, Offensive Guard
For as much as I’d love to see Miami make a splash with an unexpected signing like Joe Thuney, I think they may have their sights set on another top offensive guard. Detroit’s Graham Glasgow allowed 0 sacks last season according to PFF and finished with an overall grade of 74.1. The same reason I believe Miami should target Thuney can be applied here. However, Glasgow won’t cost as much and was arguably just as good, if not better, in 2019. Glasgow, Thuney, it doesn’t matter. The Dolphins need to improve their offense in 2020, and it starts with the offensive line.
Graham Glasgow will be a highly sought-after UFA this off-season. I studied all of his snaps (872) in '19 (798 at RG/74 at C) & came away most impressed w/his play strength, anchor, & craftiness using his hands.— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) January 9, 2020
Full 12-minute highlight tape: https://t.co/LGYQwt5k1v
Shaq Lawson, Defensive End
The 2016 NFL draft was the first draft I covered here at The Phinsider, and there was no player I was more enamored by than Shaq Lawson. Lawson has shown flashes during his time in Buffalo but has never quite lived up to the hype he garnered as a first-round pick in 2016. And with the right coaching and scheme fit, I believe the best is yet to come. After all, the last time Miami signed a Shaq, things worked out pretty darn well.
The trade market around the NFL is currently a bit of an unknown commodity. After all, we know Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams is on the block, but reports suggest he will come at a second-round compensation. Not only that but whatever team that makes that trade will then have to pay him north of $20-million per season. Quite the price for a 32-year old tackle.
Then there’s the guard from Oakland, Gabe Jackson, who wasn’t quite himself in 2019 after suffering an MCL injury. Jackson is still young (28) and has a contract that probably won’t cost as much as Thuney or Glasgow will get in FA. But how does he compare to either of those players? And most importantly, what is it going to cost to pry him away from Las Vegas? That is the million-dollar question, and one the Dolphins have to decide before making a decision.
with a tag and trade extremely likely for jags pass-rusher @yannickngakoue, lettuce remember the time he posted a picture of jason taylor on his IG story-which he later deleted (12/30/19) pic.twitter.com/24z88EBz2m— josh houtz (@houtz) March 2, 2020
As we’ve stated, the Dolphins have a dire need to upgrade the team’s pass-rush, and there are potentially two elite players that could be available if the price is right. The first is Baltimore pass-rusher Matt Judon, who signed a franchise tag with the Ravens earlier in the season. And although it appears he’s ready to play for Baltimore next season, a recent trade for Calais Campbell could shake things up.
Lastly, there’s Jacksonville defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who late in December, posted a picture of Jason Taylor on his Instagram. In 2019, Ngakoue record 41 tackles and 8 sacks, bringing his career total to 37.5 sacks. He also made it very clear that he has no intention of playing for Jacksonville next season. Could the Dolphins have an interest in either of these defensive playmakers?
We will find out the answer to all of these questions sooner rather than later.
What players are you most looking forward to the Dolphins signing in free agency?
Let us know in the comments section below!
This article was written by @houtz. Follow me on Twitter.