Highlighting 5 Available Free Agents for the Dolphins to Complete 2013 Haul
The Miami Dolphins opened up free agency with a frenzy by signing wide receiver Mike Wallace and linebackers Dannel Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler on Day 1.
Since then things have been quiet down in Davie, as the Dolphins have had plenty of targets come to visit them, but have had yet to sign anyone else.
While that has happened, they've seen Sean Smith (good riddance) and Anthony Fasano (best of luck) move on to the Kansas City Chiefs, while Reggie Bush took his considerable talent to Detroit, where it's likely he will be used a bit better than he had been last season.
All the while Miami is left possibly waiting on Jake Long (a big mistake to-do) while $32 million of 2013 cap space continues to burn a whole in their wallet (along with around $30 million in cap space for 2014).
This likely means that the Dolphins aren't done dealing yet, but who should round out the free-agent class of 2013?
All cap figures cited in this slideshow courtesy of spotrac.com.
It would be an absolute joy for Dolphins fans to see Dustin Keller not only in the aqua and orange, but tormenting the Jets the way he's tormented Miami.
It's a joy that was reportedly close to reality as of Wednesday, when it was widely reported that Keller was not only taking a physical, but also discussing terms with the Dolphins (via CBSSports.com).
However this would not come to pass just yet, as ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini tweeted:
TE Dustin Keller has left Mia facility without a deal, but 2 sides will stay in touch. Dolphins likely waiting to gauge market. #Jets— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) March 14, 2013
The hold up seems to be money, but the good news for Miami is the fact that both sides will stay in touch. Does that guarantee anything? Absolutely not. But as the market continues to dry up, it seems possible that the two sides could hammer out a deal.
The Dolphins and Dolphin fans everywhere know why Keller would be an excellent pickup, especially since he has spent the last four seasons as a much-needed security blanket for Mark Sanchez. While he's not the best blocking tight end (a role that could be filled in the draft with players such as San Diego State's Gavin Escobar, Cincinnati's Travis Kelce or Michigan State's Dion Simms), Keller would work great as a seam threat.
You know, the role that Michael Egnew was supposed to fill.
As the first tier of free agents is picked off, Keller likely will see fewer options. As it stands the Dolphins are currently his best one. It's a deal that should be made not just for the Dolphins, but for Keller as well, since the Dolphins seem like they are more stable than the Jets at this time.
I actually expect this deal to be made sooner than you think, in fact it could even happen at the time you're reading this.
UPDATE: As pointed out to me in one of the comments, Keller was signed at the time some where reading this story. According to John Clayton of ESPN.com, the deal is for one year and worth $4.25 million.
Stop the presses everyone, I had to add a new slide to this slideshow because of some big news out of Denver.
Per The Denver Post:
Elvis Dumervil has been released by the Broncos despite reaching an agreement with the team around 1:25 Friday afternoon.
The Broncos say Dumervil's agent Marty Magid didn't get a restructured contract signed in time and the team had no choice but to release him. The team could still re-sign Dumervil, but there are salary cap implications.
So a 29-year old pass rusher has just hit the free agent market out of nowhere, while the Dolphins (after signing Dustin Keller) still have more than $28 million in cap room.
With Jake Long continuing to test free agency, specifically meeting with the St. Louis Rams for what feels like a fortnight (per ESPN.com), one has to wonder why the Dolphins won't emulate a division rival of theirs and make an honest attempt to move on?
While doing that, they could also weaken said division rival. Sebastian Vollmer is not only the best tackle on the market right now, he's also the second-best overall player on the market, per NFL.com (Mike Wallace was ranked first).
At 28 years old, Vollmer may be nine months older than Long, but in the last three years he has looked nine years younger on the field, dutifully protecting Tom Brady's blindside while also sealing the left edge to allow the Patriots to employ their running game.
Of course in Miami, if they were to sign Vollmer, there might be preference among the coaching staff to move him to the right with the emergence of Jonathan Martin. But if they're waiting on Jake Long to make a decision, it seems like they're not exactly too enthused about Martin just yet.
So why not spend the money that would go to Long on someone who would not only be an upgrade over Martin, but Long himself? Especially since, once again, it will weaken the best team in the division even further?
UPDATE: Yes, I deleted this slide because there's no point in explaining something that is guaranteed to not happen. Kent Somers of azcentral.com reports:
Cardinals agree to terms with CB Antoine Cason. 1-yr deal.— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) March 15, 2013
Let's just move on to the next slide about Brent Grimes.
Last I checked, cornerback was a position of need for the Miami Dolphins well before Sean Smith left for the bright lights and greener pastures of Kansas City.
I would even go so far to say that corner was probably more of a need for the Dolphins than wide receiver. This is a good draft class for receivers that goes at least five rounds deep, so finding a complement for Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess could possibly wait until the second round (with the exception of Tavon Austin, who I'd fully be in favor of Miami drafting at No. 12).
However the Dolphins have brought in former St. Louis Ram Brandon Gibson for a visit (per ProFootballTalk.com), another wide receiver. While I get wanting to rebuild the receiving corps, the draft would be the best way to go about finding the fourth and fifth receiver (or replacement for 2014 free agent Davone Bess), not free agency.
Instead, why haven't the Dolphins considered talking to former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes?
The injury history (Grimes suffered a torn achilles tendon in Week 1) could be a factor, however the injury could work to Miami's advantage for 2013. Grimes doesn't seem to have much of a market for his services outside of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who seem to be waiting on a possible Darrelle Revis deal) or his former team, the Atlanta Falcons.
This likely means Grimes could get a one-year deal that will pay him somewhere south of $6 million. That's a deal Miami could easily afford, especially since Richard Marshall received the same amount of guaranteed money in his contract and if he's still on the roster this season will make $4.55 Million.
If the Dolphins can sign Ellerbe and Wheeling while releasing Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, they should be able to do the same with Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall. Grimes might be about a year older than Marshall, however he has proven himself more in the NFL, and would be a massive upgrade to the Dolphins' secondary as well as a great mentor to whomever Miami drafts at the position.
UPDATE: Miami appears to be listening:
The team had an official free agent visit with CB Brent Grimes today.— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) March 15, 2013
Eric Winston is likely Miami's Jake Long backup plan, with the idea being that he will play his natural position at right tackle while Jonathan Martin plays left tackle.
That's all well and good, and while I'm alright with that, I still think Miami should at least attempt to go after Sebastian Vollmer first. Vollmer will likely make the same amount of money as Long while being better than Long, Winston and Martin.
But since that's just a pipe dream of mine visualized at the beginning of the slideshow, let's talk about the real Dolphins backup plan in Winston, who already has two key attachments to the Dolphins.
Winston is, of course, a product of the University of Miami. However, unlike another Hurricane tackle in Bryant McKinnie, I trust Winston to show up for every down of every game (no, I wouldn't be a fan of McKinnie as a Dolphin).
With Winston, however, one has to wonder why he's been released in two consecutive years. The obvious answer would be the contracts he's had with the Texans and Chiefs respectively, but it does give some pause.
The Texans one still baffles me even though they seemed to do fine without him in 2012, while the Chiefs release is easier to explain due to their change in regime.
Of course, Winston's other connection to the Dolphins is the fact that his brother, Matt, is a regional scout with the Dolphins (per Sun-Sentinel). That likely will have little to do with Winston signing with the Dolphins since the same situation arose last year when Winston signed with Kansas City.
Winston has already been contacted by Miami (per Ben Vollin of The Palm Beach Post), so if he does decide to join the Dolphins a decision will likely be made shortly after Jake Long makes up his mind.