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2021 Miami Dolphins offseason: Free agency or draft to fill needs?

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

How should the Miami Dolphins address their offseason needs for 2021? The team clearly has holes on the roster as well as positions that need to be upgraded. They also have lots of options on how to attack this offseason, with the ninth-most anticipated salary cap space this year (via OverTheCap.com) and nine draft picks, including four in the top 50 selections.

This afternoon, we take a look at Miami’s needs and how they could address them. Below, you will find our take on Miami’s offseason in general terms - not necessarily selecting the specific player who they should sign or draft, but getting an idea of who they could add.

Dolphins 2021 offseason needs:

Running back
Wide receiver
Linebacker
Edge
Offensive line
Quarterback


Running back:

Potential free agency targets:

Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons

Potential draft prospects:

Travis Etienne, Clemson
Najee Harris, Alabama
Michael Carter, North Carolina
Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis
Javonte Williams, North Carolina

FA or Draft? The Dolphins need to find a top-end running back, and there are a few guys who fit the team’s current age-range, as well as have the abilities to be a feature back. That said, they probably will not break the bank to grab someone like Jones, who would make the most sense for Miami out of the free-agent market. Using their second first-round pick or a second-round choice on a running back would seem to make the most sense to (a) get someone young who will (b) not eat a large chunk of the salary cap.


Wide receiver

Potential free agency targets:

Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
Will Fuller V, Houston Texans
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

Potential draft prospects:

DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC
Rondale Moore, Purdue
Kadarius Toney, Florida
Dazz Newsome, North Carolina
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
Terrace Marshall, Jr., LSU

FA or Draft? This one could be a combination of the two. Miami could look to target someone like Robinson or Smith-Schuster in free agency, then add another in the Draft. Smith and Chase have both been linked to the Dolphins in the early mock-draft season projections, and they could both make sense for Miami. Someone later in the selections - second- or third-round - to give Miami a true slot receiver would make sense. There is a lot of depth in this year’s draft, so multiple wide receivers are a possibility. Adding Toney would give them a versatile weapon to use in multiple ways - the type of weapon the Dolphins coaching staff loves to add. Miami also adds Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns back to the roster after the two receivers opted out last season.


Linebacker

Potential free agency targets:

Matt Milano, Buffalo Bills
Jayon Brown, Tennessee Titans
Denzel Perryman, Los Angeles Chargers
K.J. Wright, Seattle Seahawks
Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Potential draft prospects:

Micha Parsons, Penn State
Nick Bolton, Missouri
Zaven Collins, Tulsa
Joseph Ossai, Texas
Dylan Moses, Alabama
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
Chazz Surratt, North Carolina
Jordan Smith, UAB
Baron Browning, Ohio State
Jabril Cox, LSU

FA or Draft? Potentially neither. The Dolphins could use the help at linebacker, especially if they were looking to land a run-stuffer to assist their rush-defense, but they could also look to hold on for one more year before they spend money or a high draft pick on someone in the middle of the defense. That said, if Miami were to select Parsons early in the first round, it would be an exceptional pick. Of the free agents, Milano and Brown feel like more of coverage guys than run stuffers, while Wright and David are closer to the end of their careers than Miami’s young developing team seems to target right now. Perryman could make a ton of sense for the Dolphins, especially if teams are not looking for and driving up the price on a pure run-stopping linebacker.


Edge

Potential free agency targets:

Yannick Ngakoue, Baltimore Ravens
Carl Lawson, Cincinnati Bengals
Trey Hendrickson, New Orleans Saints
Jadeveon Clowney, Tennessee Titans
Leonard Floyd, Los Angeles Rams
Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bud Dupree, Pittsburgh Steelers
Melvin Ingram, Los Angeles Chargers

Potential draft prospects:

Gregory Rousseau, Miami
Quincy Roche, Miami
Patrick Jones, Pittsburgh
Chris Rumph II, Duke
Hamilcar Rashed, Jr., Oregon State
Joe Tryon, Washington

FA or Draft? This is a hard one to predict. Emmanuel Ogbah was effective and recorded nine sacks on the year, while linebackers Jerome Baker and Kyle Van Noy recorded seven and six sacks respectively. The Dolphins created a ton of confusion throughout the year using an amoeba style on the defensive front for much of the season. They could look to keep creating pressure through that, rather than use a ton of cap space on a free agent or using an early-round draft pick. Ngakoue and Hendrickson could be great additions if Miami is planning to use salary-cap space. The two Miami prospects in the draft could be targets. A second- or third-round pick on an edge rusher might make the most sense, simply because Miami has other needs to address first.


Offensive line

Potential free agency targets:

Joe Thuney, guard, New England Patriots
Brandon Scherff, guard, Washington Football Team
Trent Williams, tackle, San Francisco 49ers
Corey Linsley, center, Green Bay Packers
Taylor Moton, tackle, Carolina Panthers
David Andrews, center, New England Patriots
Austin Reiter, center, Kansas City Chiefs
Daryl Williams, tackle, Buffalo Bills
Alex Mack, center, Atlanta Falcons

Potential draft prospects:

Penei Sewell, tackle, Oregon
Christian Darrisaw, tackle, Virginia Tech
Wyatt Davis, guard, Ohio State
Rashawn Slater, tackle, Northwestern
Alijah Vera-Tucker, tackle, USC
Jalen Mayfield, tackle, Michigan
Trey Smith, guard, Tennessee
Samuel Cosmi, tackle, Texas
Deonte Brown, guard, Alabama
Alex Leatherwood, tackle, Alabama
Josh Myers, center, Ohio State
Jackson Carman, tackle, Clemson
Landon Dickerson, center, Alabama
Dillon Radunz, tackle, North Dakota State
Alaric Jackson, tackle, Iowa

FA or Draft? Miami needs improvement, but they are also really young and still developing as individual players and as a unit. The starting unit of guards Solomon Kindley (23) and Ereck Flowers (26), center Ted Karras (27), and tackles Austin Jackson (21) and Robert Hunt (24) has an average age of just 24.2 years. They could see massive improvement with a full offseason program and normal training camp (assuming that happens in 2021). The team likes Karras, who is scheduled to be a free agent, and will likely look to keep him as the veteran of the unit. Could they sign someone like Thuney, Scherff, or Linsley? Absolutely. Could they stand pat and see if the line develops this year? Absolutely. Drafting someone probably makes the most sense, however, with the possibility that they could even use the third-overall pick for Sewell. Sewell could immediately lock down a tackle position, potentially allowing the team to move Hunt inside as a guard, replacing Flowers. That is all supposition however. Adding second- or third-round linemen seems the most likely option as Miami uses early picks to address the skill positions.


Quarterback

Potential free agency targets:

Cam Newton, New England Patriots
Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers
Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys

Potential draft prospects:

Mac Jones, Ohio State
Kyle Trask, Florida
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Jamie Newman, Georgia

FA or Draft? We are going to assume that (a) the Dolphins are not trading for Deshaun Watson and (b) they are not drafting or signing a replacement for Tua Tagovailoa after having spent the fifth-overall pick on him last year. That rules out Dak Prescott as a free agent acquisition (and probably Jameis Winston who will be looking to be a starter if he does not return to the New Orleans Saints), while Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance are all out as draft picks. The scenario that might make the most sense is to just bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that also opened up the “relief pitcher” conversation for the entire season, with fans and media questioning when Fitzpatrick will be inserted into games if Tagovailoa struggles. Signing a veteran like Newton or Taylor could give Miami a player able to step in if Tagovailoa is injured. Drafting Jones, Trask, Mond, or Newman would allow the team to have a young quarterback to develop alongside Tagovailoa. Most likely, a free agent addition makes the most sense assuming the price does not get too high.