The Miami Dolphins enter the 2022 free agency cycle as a team in transition. Accordingly, there is pressure firmly placed on the shoulders of general manager Chris Grier this offseason as he looks to put the finishing touches on this team’s rebuilding effort. Part of that tweak included a surprising and controversial change at the head coaching position—a decision that is sure to offer an intriguing new direction on offense as the Dolphins look to become a more well-rounded football team in 2022. With what is currently scheduled to be the NFL’s highest free agency spending power of any team across the league (and ample room to add more), the Dolphins are going to be a franchise that makes a splash. How big of a splash that is may be ultimately determined by their confidence level in how quickly they can right the ship offensively under new head coach Mike McDaniel. There’s more spending to be found on that side of the football after all, thanks in large part to the Dolphins’ decision to bring back defensive coordinator Josh Boyer and much of the team’s assistant staff on that side of the football. If I could, I would be picking six offensive players to target in free agency. But for the sake of parity, I’m sharing the love. Here are three free agents who would make sense for the Dolphins to pursue on either side of the football next month.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas CowboysThe Dolphins are set to see tight end Mike Gesicki hit the free-agent market, as well as backup Durham Smythe. The funny thing about both? Smythe is technically the starting tight end and Gesicki is a glorified receiver. This means the “Y” tight end role in Miami’s offense is wide open, and if the Dolphins choose to let Gesicki hit the road, they’ll have a potential $10M+ per year player leaving—opening the door for some big spending in the tight end room. Yes, the team drafted Hunter Long in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but Schultz is coming off of a massive season in which he bested all of the numbers posted by Gesicki—and he’s absolutely more capable of playing a traditional tight end role with his hand in the dirt. If the Dolphins want a traditional tight end to fulfill their primary role in McDaniel’s presumed 12 and 21-heavy personnel offense, Schultz is the “do it all” player who warrants getting paid at tight end for the Dolphins.
Terron Armstead, OT, New Orleans SaintsOh boy. There’s big spending in free agency and then there’s BIG SPENDING. This is the latter. It is likely safe to assume that Armstead is going to command near or in excess of $20M APY on his new deal. And, given some of the durability questions he’s faced of late, that can be a scary thought. But I guarantee you that paying Armstead that money isn’t as scary as the thought of running it back once again in 2022 with the same hot mess of unestablished options at offensive tackle. Armstead has the athleticism to shine in the presumed zone rushing offense we are expecting to see in Miami under McDaniel and the pass protection boost of Armstead versus 2021 tackles Austin Jackson, Liam Eichenberg, and Jesse Davis is immeasurable.
Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ersThis is a relationships business, after all. The Dolphins going after Mostert makes sense on a handful of fronts, most notably that Miami has zilch at running back and Mostert was very effective in San Francisco as the primary ball-carrier in 2019 and 2020. The challenge here comes with Mostert playing just nine games over the last two seasons. His addition wouldn’t solve the Dolphins’ backfield problems, but he’s a player that McDaniel likely trusts given their overlap with the 49ers and his age and injury history would make him a feasible option that doesn’t chew cap. Let’s re-sign 2021 revelation Duke Johnson while we’re at it, draft a back, and go from there, Miami.
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Miami DolphinsSurprise! An incumbent makes the list. No, I didn’t push for the retention of Gesicki quite like I am with Ogbah, but that is because anyone who has watched the Dolphins over the last two years can see Ogbah’s valuable role within the Dolphins’ front: 18 sacks, 45 QB hits, 17 passes defensed. Ogbah has shown he’s taken to the Dolphins’ defensive scheme and will only be turning 29 years old in November of 2022. Yes, he plays a premium position. Yes, that will drive up his cost. But if the Dolphins want to optimize building out their offense, they’d be wise to do so by avoiding creating a massive hole on the other side of the ball at a premium position.
Alexander Johnson, LB Denver BroncosJohnson’s 2019 and 2020 campaigns showcased a stout inside linebacker who was a reliable tackler and had the ability to play a high snap rate for the Broncos. 2021 saw Johnson miss 11 games—and if an injury and position value are enough to drive his value down, Miami would have a major upgrade on their hands over Elandon Roberts. Johnson has one more missed tackle over his last 2,118 snaps (15) than Roberts missed last year (14) in just 621.
Nik Needham, NB, Miami DolphinsHark! Another incumbent member of the Dolphins defense! Needham has been a success story for the team ever since he was added as an undrafted free agent back in 2019. His steady development has been impressive to see and Needham’s play reached a new high-water mark this season as he filled in both in the slot, on the outside, and as a safety for the team in various stretches of the year. Needham has excellent work ethic, is tireless on the field, and is only a restricted free agent this offseason, leaving you plenty of wiggle room to ensure he’s back with the team again in 2022 at a minimum. Honorable mention: Joseph Noteboom, OL, Los Angeles Rams Bringing some more attention to the trenches (did you SEE this team try to block last year?), Joe Noteboom might be a potential steal for the Dolphins. He’s taken snaps over his career at four spots along the offensive line after entering the league as an athletic, developmental blocker out of TCU. Miami currently has one player capable of filling that same utility role, 2021 starting right tackle Jesse Davis. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2018 for the Dolphins, Davis has yielded 20 sacks, 163 pressures, and 16 penalties against him across some 2.600 total pass block snaps. Terron Armstead, a proposed free agent addition at tackle this offseason? He’s conceded 20 sacks and 131 pressures… for his career, which began in 2013 and included 3,463 pass-block snaps. Miami can save significant dollars by parting ways with Davis and Noteboom is a younger player who actually offers upside as a potential starter in a system that should mirror in some ways that of his previous coach, Sean McVay.
- Dec 09, 2022
- Dec 09, 2022