The Miami Dolphins have had a strong start to the 2023 NFL free agency period, adding players on both sides of the ball. The team traded for All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and they signed quarterback Mike White, linebacker David Long, Jr., safety DeShon Elliott, tight end Eric Saubert, offensive lineman Dan Feeney, and wide receiver Braxton Berrios. They also re-signed running backs Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Jr., Myles Gaskin, and Salvon Ahmed along with offensive lineman Geron Christian, cornerback Nik Needham, offensive lineman Kendall Lamm, and linebacker Duke Riley; Miami claimed wide receiver Freddie Swain off waivers.
With all of the additions, where does Miami’s roster stand heading into the first weekend of the free agency period? What areas does the team still need to address this offseason?
The Dolphins are expected to stay in their 3-4 base system, with the primary edge rushers coming from the outside linebacker position. The team can generate pressure with their linemen, especially with defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and the return of defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah after a torn triceps muscle ended his season early. The primary outside linebackers will be Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips, but behind those two, there is not a lot of depth with just Cameron Goode on the roster. That can be said of the inside linebacker position as well (Jerome Baker, David Long, Jr., Duke Riley, and Channing Tindall), but Miami has to address the pass rush depth, with 2022’s injury issues across the defense fresh in everyone’s minds.
Andrew Van Ginkel is still a free agent, having visited with the New England Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders according to reports but not signing yet. Bringing Van Ginkel back to the Dolphins could be a huge step in solidifying the outside linebacker position. There needs to be at least a couple of acquisitions at outside linebacker to give the Dolphins' defense the teeth to force early (and bad) throws into a strong secondary.
Mike Gesicki has joined the New England Patriots after a frustrating year in Miami. Somehow, despite his pass-catching abilities, Gesicki just never fit into head coach Mike McDaniel’s offensive system. The Dolphins are headed forward with Durham Smythe, Tanner Conner, and the newly signed Eric Saubert at the position. Smythe is a solid all-around tight end and, after playing 53 percent of the offensive snaps last season (compared to 45 percent for Gesicki), he is returning as the top player at the position for the Dolphins from 2022. As the San Francisco 49ers’ offensive coordinator before moving to Miami, McDaniel had George Kittle at tight end. Will Smythe, heading into his sixth season, emerge as Miami’s version of Kittle? It feels like the Dolphins will still make a move here - though this could be a draft selection to bring in a developmental player to have behind Smythe, Conner, and Saubert this year.
Dolphins Twitter is very vocal on the team’s need to address the right tackle position. It is quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside and, after a year in which Tagovailoa missed games due to concussions, protecting the quarterback is an absolute requirement for 2023. That said, the Dolphins seem to believe they will be fine with Austin Jackson returning to the right tackle position as he gets healthy this offseason. Getting a healthy Terron Armstead at left tackle after he battled through injuries all of 2022 immediately upgrades the entire offensive line. Connor Williams settling into his second season as a center will be a positive as well. Robert Hunt appears to be a solid right guard, and, as much as fans love to hate him, Liam Eichenberg is a fine left guard, especially if Armstead is next to him. Kendall Lamm, Lester Cotton, and Robert Jones will compete for roles on the line, and someone could push Jackson for the right tackle position.
The Dolphins could still look to bring in someone here, and reports seem to indicate they are in the market but are not looking to set the market with a huge signing, so this may not be a completed position group. It just does not feel like the Dolphins themselves are stressing the need to add to the group, at least at the starter level.
Miami does not have a punter on the roster right now. Thomas Morstead is a free agent and, while he has said he would be interested in returning to the Dolphins, the team has not yet signed him. They are hosting free agent Jake Bailey for a visit on Friday and could look to sign him instead of Morstead. Whichever way the Dolphins decide to go for the position, they have to sign a punter at some point.
Update (3/17, 4:15 p.m. ET): The Dolphins signed Bailey.