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Bobby Wagner is just what the Dolphins need at linebacker

Wagner and the Rams parted ways earlier this week.

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have questions at linebacker and Bobby Wagner could answer most of them. Wagner, who joined the Los Angeles Rams on a five-year $50 million deal last offseason, is now a free agent after parting ways with the team earlier this week.

“The Rams need cap space,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted, “and Wagner wants to win.”

Wagner, 32, was the league’s top-rated linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus. He finished the year with 140 tackles, six sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, and two interceptions.

Miami sits roughly $16 million above the 2023 salary cap and will shed that money before the new league year begins on March 15. That said, about half the roster is about to hit free agency. The Dolphins will likely create enough money to reload depth — while taking a shot or two at top free agents.

In an offseason where Devin Bush (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tremaine Edmunds (Buffalo Bills) and Lavonte David (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) are just some of the names about to hit free agency, Miami should focus on Wagner.

It’s impossible to predict what he is looking for in a winner, but after escaping a five-year deal, Wanger may look for a short-term contract with a contender. Since the Dolphins have a quarterback on a rookie contract, the team could restructure contracts and move on from others to meet Wagner’s demands.

Zach Thomas was Miami’s last All-Pro inside linebacker and he’s set to make the Hall of Fame this year, which speaks to the franchise’s inability to fill that void. The Dolphins need to figure out how to replenish the cornerback room, but middle linebacker is arguably the greatest need as newly-signed defensive coordinator Vic Fangio implements his zone-heavy defense.

General manager Chris Grier has little flexibility this offseason, which magnifies the need to hit on free-agent signings. Considering that Fangio’s 3-4 defense leverages two inside linebackers, what better way to boost the unit than a versatile, hard-hitting linebacker who just earned his ninth-straight All-Pro team?

There will be competition for Wagner’s services, and the Dolphins are limited in what they can do this offseason — but the franchise should exhaust every option when pursuing a substantial upgrade to a unit already trending in the right direction.