There's about $47 million in cap room for the Miami Dolphins to spend during the 2013 offseason.
That's $47 million that can go toward keeping some key pieces of the team, and also upgrading some of Miami's holes.
I've written plenty about free agents the Miami Dolphins should cover, but now I've narrowed down the list to the five main targets the Miami Dolphins should gun after this offseason.
Every position where Miami needs help is addressed in this slideshow with the exception of the pass rush, which is better addressed through the draft. The positions profiled on here are best helped through the free-agent targets mentioned.
Miami needs a much more athletic offensive line.
Mike Pouncey is the best center in the NFL, while Jonathan Martin has proven to be serviceable at left tackle. Right tackle still must be addressed (and could be by sliding John Jerry there), but the guard position leaves much to be desired in terms of athleticism.
My solution would be for Miami to sign Andy Levitre, who has been a solid part of Buffalo's offensive line since the Bills drafted him in 2009, and he has never missed a game. The Dolphins could either move him to right guard, or move Richie Incognito to the right guard slot (or better yet, draft another guard).
The better solution would be to move Incognito to the right guard spot because he's actually played that position pretty well in the past. In fact, he only started playing left guard when he signed with the Dolphins.
Signing Levitre also takes one of Buffalo's biggest weapons away from them. He's been a spectacular run blocker who also does well taking care of the quarterback.
If there's anyone on the Dolphins who would be excited to sign Levitre, it would be the Dolphins defensive line, who know very well how difficult it can be to go up against the former Oregon State Beaver.
I've been pretty high on the possibility of signing Derek Cox of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and for good reason.
Derek Cox is a pretty good cover corner. He finished out the 2012 season with four interceptions, a forced fumble and 60 tackles. You'll notice teams don't pick on him on the basis that he is the Jaguars' best cornerback.
He's also the best cornerback available on the open market, and someone the Dolphins should take a look at.
Signing him to play opposite Sean Smith would improve Miami's secondary. Signing him to replace Sean Smith and play alongside whichever player Miami chooses to draft also improves Miami's secondary.
Jared Cook is a young, strong and athletic tight end who's a bit of a hidden secret in the NFL.
The reason for that? The Titans offensive system, which tends to ignore Cook. In Miami's system he's sure to thrive along side Charles Clay and (if there's anything really in him), Michael Egnew.
Cook ended 2012 with 44 catches for 523 yards and four touchdowns. The number of touchdowns should rise in Miami as Ryan Tannehill could use him as a credible end-zone threat, something that the Titans very rarely use him for.
How could they have a weapon like that and leave him on the shelf? I don't know. But in Miami, he should be a key player ready to jump up to the second echelon of tight ends.
A torn Achilles tendon kept Grimes out for most of the year with the Falcons. However, his body of work up to this season has been a good one, and the injury should make him a bargain.
Grimes will be 30 at the beginning of next season and most likely better suited for a short-term contract that's incentive laden. Prior to his Achilles tendon injury this season, he had recorded 254 tackles and 13 interceptions in five seasons with Atlanta.
It would be an inexpensive gamble for Miami to take, but one that would pay off in 2013.
Despite that, articles like this get published, titled "More Evidence of Greg Jennings Coming to Miami?" (h/t ESPN.com). What does it say? It contains tweets made by Jenning's sister.
...a family member of Jennings provided further evidence last weekend that Miami could be on the receiver’s radar. Jennings’ sister, Valyencia, reportedly went off on her Twitter account (which is now deleted) a few days ago during Green Bay’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The USA Today captured all the tweets.
“Who can make a play @GregJennings can. He’s the best freakin [sic] receiver these clowns got,” Valyencia Jennings tweeted out of frustration. “Now take your talents to south beach and get paid.”
Ouch! But there is more.
“@GregJennings ball out so you can leave this team,” Valyencia Jennings tweeted of the Packers. “They will miss u when your [sic] gone. It’s all good bye Packers. Cheap team, can’t afford him.”
Although Greg Jennings can’t and won’t say anything about the Dolphins while he is still under contract, you have to think Miami has come up at some point with the Jennings family. Valyencia didn’t just bring up the Dolphins Sunday out of thin air over every other team. Greg Jennings and his family have to be aware of what the Dolphins need, his connection with Philbin and the money Miami is willing to spend. It would make sense for Jennings and the Dolphins to be near the top of each other's offseason wish list.
Of course, I've been beating the drum about Miami going after Jennings throughout the season. The reason why it's so intriguing is simple football. Miami has cap space and a huge need at wide receiver.
Jennings will likely need a new home since the Packers are flush with receivers and will likely spend what money they have elsewhere (like a defense capable of slowing down Adrian Peterson).
Jennings is also familiar with Miami's offensive system since it is the West Coast offense he's been running in Green Bay since his rookie season. His offensive coordinator for most of that time: Joe Philbin, head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
The man who drafted Jennings? Well, it wasn't Mike Sherman (who was fired the season prior to Jennings being drafted by the Packers), but Sherman did scout him out while he was still in Green Bay.
This seems destined to happen, and if it does, it would be a major coup for Miami.
Miami has plenty of needs that signing these free agents (if they do sign them all) will not cover. While I'm sure many of you are wondering where Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe are not on the list, the reason is because Jennings is a better fit for the system in place and will come cheaper than either of those two receivers.
Wouldn't you rather use Wallace and Bowe money on a cornerback and guard that can create big plays on defense and protect Tannehill well on offense and allow him to make big plays?
The other reason is because Miami will be able to find plenty of capable receivers in Round 2 of the draft. Round 1, in my opinion, should be used on either a pass rusher or an offensive lineman.
The draft is where this team will be built, but these five free agents would fit in with the Dolphins very well if they are signed.