Picking the Ideal Free Agents to Fill Each of the Miami Dolphins' Holes
So many holes and deficiencies are in the Miami Dolphins' lineup, with such little money to spend in order to fix them.
Well, the $30 million that Miami can spend isn't a little bit of money; however, unless many of these deals are back-loaded, most of that money will go toward signing some impending Miami free agents.
Those free agents will be spotlighted in this slideshow because they represent the best free agents to fill those holes; however, we will also look at the ideal free agents that would fit the Miami Dolphins this offseason.
It's obvious why tackle is a need for the Dolphins during free agency: Every position along the offensive line is a need except center. Even then, I have my reservations on Mike Pouncey due to some of his off-the-field issues.
Those issues not only include that Aaron Hernandez-related subpoena he was served with that was reported by Sports Illustrated back in October, but they also include his alleged drug parties that were insinuated by the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito text messages USA Today's The Big Lead published last week.
Because I see the Dolphins signing a tackle and a guard in free agency, then drafting a tackle and a guard, I'll only include one of each. The tackle I'm going to suggest, who will become a free agent isn't Branden Albert, whom the Dolphins are expected to go after.
Instead, it's the Oakland Raiders' Jared Veldheer. Veldheer is the ideal free-agent left tackle due to his massive 6'8", 322 pound frame and his ability to block in the Dolphins' preferred zone-blocking scheme.
He's the ideal candidate, but he's also practically impossible at this point for a myriad of reasons.
The Raiders are $61 million under the cap, which essentially means they can afford to top any offer Miami brings to the table. More importantly, they have the franchise-tag option available for Veldheer. If they can't come to an agreement on a deal with him, they can easily place the tag on him and continue negotiations without hurting their cap room in the short term.
Then there's the fact that, as Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com points out, Veldheer wants to stay in Oakland, a sentiment he discussed his Monday interview with San Francisco's 95.7 FM. Both sides want a long-term deal done, and according to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez, such a deal will happen.
In the meantime, enjoy the Branden Albert talks that will consume Dolphins fans this March until a deal is made.
For a team that has had so many problems being competitive in recent years, the Cleveland Browns have quite an offensive line.
This season two key players along the offensive line, center Alex Mack and guard Shawn Lauvao, are impending free agents.
Would I love to sign Mack? Definitely. I've been an advocate for signing Mack and moving Pouncey over to left guard since the end of the season.
But Mack will command a lot more money on the market than Pouncey (and that would likely include the possibility of Pouncey signing a new contract extension going into the season), and he likely won't leave Cleveland either, at least according to The Plain-Dealer's Tom Reed:
Joe Thomas said free agent Alex Mack has told him he wants to remain with #Browns.— Tom Reed (@treed1919) December 24, 2013
Instead, the target is Lauvao, who struggled with injuries throughout the season. He likely won't get franchise-tagged by the Browns due to their two other high-profile free agents, Mack and safety T.J. Ward, and will be affordable for the Dolphins as he's coming off his original rookie deal.
Lauvao gives Miami youth at the guard position as well as some use of the zone-blocking scheme, which was used in his first three seasons in Cleveland.
Once again let me emphasize that this piece is about how the Dolphins can fill their holes through free agency, but this is a hole I'd rather they filled through the draft.
However, if they decide to go the free-agency route with running back, the pick would be LeGarrette Blount.
Blount has history with Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey, as he was originally signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his rookie year in 2010 after the Tennessee Titans waived him after training camp.
The history isn't the only reason Blount would work with the Dolphins, the other reason is he's the tough and physical running back the Dolphins need, and apparently that's the type of back they want, according to a Dolphins staffer who spoke to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. He had this to say about the current Daniel Thomas/Lamar Miller platoon:
They’re a good complement to each other, and we like Miller’s speed and explosiveness.” Miller has the higher ceiling, but you wish he ran with a more physical [style]. And both have to improve as blockers.
Miami is losing two defensive tackles to free agency this season, making a hole at the position.
Their ideal defensive tackle is one of those free agents, Paul Soliai.
I don't think that's any type of breaking news, as we've seen Soliai's play in his seven seasons in Miami. The Dolphins are a better team with him than without him.
He's their ideal fit at defensive lineman, but he will come at a steep price. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Soliai really wants to stay in Miami; however, his agent, David Canter, will not be afraid to hold the Dolphins up in negotiations.
Here's one of two positions where the Dolphins can fill their need by retaining one of their own.
I've practically run out of ways to say Brent Grimes is one of Miami's most important free agents. It's all but certain that Grimes will be in Miami in one way or another next season.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald stated that "Hickey will try to keep him" when referring to Grimes in his Sunday Buzz column, and CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported that Grimes is Miami's "top priority."
Grimes knows the defense, plays zone coverage very well, and provided a much-needed veteran presence in the secondary in 2013. With the youth behind him in 2014, all of that will be needed.
All salary-cap numbers courtesy of Spotrac unless otherwise noted.