5 Big Splashes the Miami Dolphins Could Realistically Make in Free Agency

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaContributor IIJanuary 29, 2014

5 Big Splashes the Miami Dolphins Could Realistically Make in Free Agency

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    Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images

    The 2014 NFL season will be a make-or-break year for the Miami Dolphins, necessitating the need to make a big splash this offseason in order to improve the talent on the roster. 

    What players will be available for new general manager Dennis Hickey to make such a splash? Well there is a preliminary list here courtesy of NFL.com but also be sure to keep in mind that some players might be released, and some of the players on that preliminary list will definitely get the franchise tag from their current team. 

    With that in mind, here's our list of five big splashes the Miami Dolphins could make this offseason. 

Sam Shields

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    It's surprising to some people that I would suggest Sam Shields as a possible free agent pickup. 

    At the same time, I'm surprised that Sam Shields would be available, however as reported by Tyler Dunne of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Green Bay Packers consider Shields' return to only be 50-50. 

    He likely won't be franchised by the Packers either since B.J. Raji is a free agent this season as well. 

    If he signs, Shields would be a good fit for the Dolphins. If he signs and Brent Grimes remains in Miami, the Dolphins would then easily have the best secondary in the AFC East. 

    If Miami sign Shields and Grimes leaves, then the Dolphins at least get younger at the cornerback position. 

    Shields would fit Miami's defense well and while it seems like pie in the sky, he would be a great pick up for Miami regardless of what happens with Grimes. 

Wade Smith

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    Wade Smith with the Miami Dolphins back in 2004.
    Wade Smith with the Miami Dolphins back in 2004.Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    You might remember Wade Smith from his time in Miami from 2003-05, where he was one of the few decent draft picks from the Dave Wannstedt and Rick Spielman-era that began this slow death of football in South Florida. 

    Smith is still in the league, and he has appeared to have aged like a fine wine, as in his last four seasons with the Houston Texans, he has gone to his first Pro Bowl and been a key part of a successful offensive line in Houston. 

    The Dolphins just recently hired former Texans offensive line coach John Benton as their new assistant offensive line coach, per Omar Kelly of the The Sun Sentinel, (I wondered why they didn't just give him the job outright but alas, Jim Turner will apparently never leave us), and considering that Smith has had his best years with the Texans under Benton, this signing would make a lot of sense. 

    This isn't a signing you're making for the future (Smith will be 33 on Week 1) but rather a stopgap until the younger players along the offensive line develop more. 

    But Smith would make an excellent stopgap at guard, made better by the fact that he will be working with an assistant he trusts, while also providing some much-needed locker room leadership. 

Maurice Jones-Drew

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    It almost seems like in this side-by-side comparison that Maurice Jones-Drew is telling the world he will be "Taking his talents to South Beach."

    If he chooses to do so, it obviously won't be met with the same amount of celebration as LeBron, but it will be a big signing for the Dolphins, who would get themselves an every-down back that can run, catch passes out of the backfield, and block. 

    Signing MJD might be expensive for his age, but he would certainly improve the offense and isn't that the goal. 

Branden Albert

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    He's going to be the top free agent left tackle, and the biggest splash any team could make in free agency. 

    Do the Miami Dolphins have to sign Branden Albert? After reading me, you're likely going to think yes. He provides an instant fix to Miami's offensive line and can protect Ryan Tannehill's blindside better than he's had it protected throughout his career.

    His addition would also open up the draft to the Dolphins and allow them to go for the best player available early on instead of another left tackle. 

    This move would be a splash and likely excite Dolphins fans everywhere. 

    But Albert will be expensive and will have other suitors, meaning if this is the Dolphins' plan, there better be a backup plan. 

Eugene Monroe

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Eugene Monroe is a better football player than Branden Albert. 

    Monroe is whom the Dolphins should've gone after via trade during the season, not the man that Monroe replaced (Bryant McKinnie). 

    Here's a chance for them to fix a mistake and get Monroe in a Dolphins uniform, at least one hopes they get that chance. 

    Baltimore could always franchise Monroe, who is the best of their impending free agents. 

    But if it doesn't, Miami should swoop in and grab Monroe, who will likely be cheaper than Albert and likely overall would be the best signing in free agency.