NFL free agency begins on March 15 and the Miami Dolphins won’t have the same flexibility as in years past. While the team can — and will — create cap space, the Dolphins have a tough starting point being $16 million over the salary cap.
General manager Chris Grier has tough decisions when determining depth considering 28 soon-to-be free agents are on the roster. With that said, here are three players Miami’s front office should work to re-sign before free agency begins.
The team hasn’t announced a defensive coordinator so it’s impossible to predict what Miami’s defense will look like next year, but don’t underestimate continuity in the secondary.
Needham, 26, tore his Achilles on in Oct. against the Minnesota Vikings after signing a one-year contract with the team in April. Undrafted free agent Kader Kohou and fifth-year vet Keion Crossen emerged as quality cornerbacks in Josh Boyer’s defense, but the secondary was devastated by injuries for most of the year.
NFL Network’s Cam Wolfe reported on Jan. 16 that Needham hopes to return to the team in 2023.
— CB Nik Needham (October torn Achilles) said he gets boot off in a month, recovery going well. He’s a free agent & said he hopes to return to Miami.— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) January 16, 2023
— S Brandon Jones (Oct torn ACL), RB Raheem Mostert (broken thumb), OL Liam Eichenberg (arm in sling) all spotted in locker room.
Needham played in six games before the season-ending injury but played in 31 straight games throughout 2020 and 2021.
The Dolphins have four free-agent running backs and you could argue a case for most of them to return. However, Ahmed, 24, sticks out as a value for coach Mike McDaniel.
Ahmed carried the ball just 12 times and averaged 5.3 yards per carry last season after averaging 2.8 yards per carry on 54 attempts in 2021. Ahmed spent time with McDaniel as a member of the 49ers in 2020, signing with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent.
Ahmed could be the ideal backup with knowledge of the team’s system as it works on a rushing offense that averaged just 99 yards per game in 2022.
McDaniel’s offense truly highlighted the importance of a consistent No. 3 receiver and Sherfield hit the ground running last year. Not only did he play in every game, but he finished with two touchdowns and 417 yards on 30 receptions.
Sherfield doesn’t get enough credit for his ability to block down the field, creating lanes for yards after the catch.
The Dolphins spent a fourth-round draft pick on Erik Ezukanma and he’ll play a bigger role in the offense after one reception in 2022. Cedrick Wilson Jr. is also on the roster behind Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, but even then - Sherfield seems like the perfect fit for what McDaniel is building in Miami.