Miami Dolphins Free Agency: Odds They Make a Run at These 10 Free Agents

Scott AltmanCorrespondent IMay 22, 2011

Miami Dolphins Free Agency: Odds They Make a Run at These 10 Free Agents

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Runningback Darren Sproles #43 of the San Diego Chargers runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL game on December 20, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Imag
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Once NFL free agency approaches, rampant speculation usually dominates team coverage nationwide. This year is a little bit different due to the lockout, but most of us have shifted our attention towards free agency nonetheless.

    That chatter and buzz is slowly starting to build around Miami. Even though we don't know when the period will actually start, the Dolphins figure to be major players, thanks to Stephen Ross and his bank account.

    It's difficult to decipher who will actually be free agents due to some restricted free agency clauses in the old CBA (which might be reused for 2011), but let's just assume all of the following players are unrestricted free agents.

DeAngelo Williams

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 12:  DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball in the first half against the New York Giants on September 12, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Get
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Assuming DeAngelo Williams enters unrestricted free agency (if the NFL runs by 2010 rules in 2011, Williams will be a restricted free agent and likely stay in Carolina), he will be atop Miami's radar. He said so himself.

    But just because Williams and the Dolphins have engaged in this public love affair does not mean he will automatically sign with the 'Fins. The former Pro Bowl will demand a lucrative contract—possibly a price too steep for Miami's liking. The Dolphins just used a second round pick on Daniel Thomas, so they might prefer to allocate their funds elsewhere.

    Still, Williams would give Miami one of the league's deadliest rushing attacks, and that prospect might entice the team into signing that big check.

    Odds: 50%

Davin Joseph

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 29:  Davin Joseph #75 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 29, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If the Dolphins don't pursue DeAngelo Williams, they will have plenty of funds at their perusal. Now that Daniel Thomas is on the roster, Miami might prefer to use their cap space to bolster the offensive line, anyway.

    Right guard is a glaring weakness along the offensive front. John Jerry and Nate Garner will compete for the job, but neither have proven to be anything more than serviceable. In order to upgrade the position and fortify the line, Miami could target Tampa Bay's Davin Joseph, arguably the best available guard on the market.

    This will be a matter of money and progression. If Joseph doesn't demand outlandish money and John Jerry doesn't show any significant improvement from his rookie season, the team should pursue him.

    Odds: 45%

Tarvaris Jackson

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    MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 2:  Tarvaris Jackson #7 of the Minnesota Vikings passes the ball during warmups prior to an NFL preseason game against the Denver Broncos at the Mall of America Field at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, on September 2, 2010 in Minneap
    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

    Miami might not be willing to pay the steep price for Carson Palmer or Kyle Orton, so free agent-to-be Tarvaris Jackson could be the perfect target.

    Jackson's career has been marred by disappointment, but his struggles are far overblown. In 2007, Jackson's only season as a true starter, he led the Vikings to an 8-4 record and a playoff berth. Although his stats were unimpressive, he had virtually no receiving weapons at his disposal. Since then, Brett Favre has robbed Jackson of an opportunity to build off of his one promising season.

    Jackson has already voiced his desire to leave Minnesota, and the Dolphins make a mutually great fit. He could come into camp with a great chance at seizing a starting job, and Miami could likely sign him at a minimal price.

    Odds: 40%

Darren Sproles

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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 26:  Running back Darren Sproles #43 of the San Diego Chargers rushes against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on September 26, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Earlier this offseason, Jeff Ireland made a big deal about the Dolphins' intentions to pursue speedy, electric players to enliven the team's lethargic offense. However, the only true speed-oriented player Miami drafted was Edmond Gates, so the team might target more in free agency.

    San Diego Chargers scatback Darren Sproles might be the perfect player for Miami to target. He will likely come at a low price due to his age (27) and overall lack of involvement and production last season. Sproles is basically a third-down back, but he provides the breakaway speed that Miami's offense lacked this season.

    He is also one of the most lethal return men in the NFL, which allows the Dolphins to hit two birds with one stone.

    Odds: 80%

Matt Hasselbeck

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to throw the ball during pregame before taking on the Chicago Bears in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Miami's desperation for a quarterback is well documented. But are they desperate enough to knowingly overpay for an aging, injury-prone quarterback?

    That's the question the team would have to answer if they were to pursue Matt Hasselbeck. His miraculous performance in the NFC Wild Card Game boosted his stock, but his struggles during the regular season are a better indicator of what he will bring in 2011.

    Although age and durability issues lessen Hasselbeck's value, that could work in the Dolphins' favor. He may come at a somewhat discounted price, and if he can consistently play at the level he did in the 2010 playoffs, Miami will have a bargain and, more importantly, an upgrade at quarterback.

    Odds: 40%

Mike Sims-Walker

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 26:  Mike Sims-Walker #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs for yardage during the game against the Washington Redskins at EverBank Field on December 26, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Mike Sims-Walker has made his desire to play for the Dolphins loud and clear, and his friend Brandon Marshall has vouched for the Jaguars' No. 1 wide receiver as well.

    However, the team has virtually no space for him, and even if there was a vacant roster spot at wide receiver, Miami probably wouldn't want to roll the dice with Sims-Walker. He has been wildly inconsistent and struggled with off-the-field issues in Jacksonville.

    Plus, Sims-Walker would probably demand a contract out of the team's price range.

    Odds: 5%

Jerious Norwood

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    ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Jerious Norwood #32 of the Atlanta Falcons against the Arizona Cardinals at Georgia Dome on September 19, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Darren Sproles will be the most coveted scatback on the free-agent market this summer, so he will subsequently have a list of suitors. If the Dolphins lose out on Sproles, they could pursue Atlanta Falcons running back Jerious Norwood.

    Norwood provides a similar skill set to Sproles. He specializes as a third-down back and a kick returner, but has repeatedly struggled with injures throughout his career and has not been quite as productive as Sproles.

    Still the Dolphins need speed, and if they can't grab Sproles, Norwood should be atop their targets.

    Odds: 30%

Ernie Sims

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09:  Brandon Jackson #32 of the Green Bay Packers scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia,
    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    Former Florida State standout Ernie Sims was initially on track for stardom after his first two seasons in the league, but his play has since declined in the last two years buried on the Eagles depth chart.

    Sims is now headed for the open market where he probably won't draw much attention, if any at all. Even though Miami is really in the market for pass-rushing specialists, they also need bodies to fill the depth chart. Sims is still only 26 and might benefit from a fresh start under a coach like Mike Nolan.

    Assuming he doesn't demand an outlandish contract, the Dolphins would be wise to investigate in Sims' services.

    Odds: 30%

Dennis Dixon

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    NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Dennis Dixon #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rolls out under pressure from the Tennessee Titans defense during the first half at LP Field on September 19, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/G
    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Athe beginning of the 2010 season, Dennis Dixon beat out veterans Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich for the right to serve as Big Ben's temporary replacement. Dixon was hardly spectacular, but he did lead the Steelers to a Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

    Although he is yet to prove he can be an effective full-time starter, Dixon has performed extraordinarily well in the handful of games he has played in. His durability is also a concern (torn ACL while a senior at Oregon; injured in Week 2 last season), but assuming the Steelers don't place an outlandish tender on him, Miami might only have to surrender a low-value draft pick for the mobile QB.

    Dennis Dixon, like Tarvaris Jackson, is a low risk-high reward option who could provide competition at the very least.

    Odds: 15%

Marcus Spears

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 11:  Marcus Spears #96 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during warm-up prior to the NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadiumin on October 11, 2009 Kansas City, Missouri. The Cowboys defeated the Chiefs 26-20 in
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Cowboys-to-Dolphins pipeline that has formed since Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano departed Big D makes any former Cowboy a target for Miami, but the Fins have actually shown interest in defensive end Marcus Spears before.

    When Phillip Merling went down with an Achilles injury last summer, rumors about Miami trying to trade for Spears hit the web. Bill Parcells drafted Spears in the first round of the 2005 draft, but he has been a bust thus far.

    The circumstances were different last year. Merling was sidelined and Spears would have played his contract year in Miami. But now that Kendall Langford is slated for free agency next year and Merling has yet to fully prove his worth, Spears might make for a very nice, low-priced depth/insurance player.

    Odds: 35%