The Miami Dolphins have built a very good roster for the 2011 season. Though not every offseason acquisition was their first choice, I'd say their roster moves have been smart and responsible, creating a very good, promising football team.
But with around $6 or $7 million in available cap room, Miami isn't done signing free agents just yet. In fact they just signed NT Ronald Fields, who will probably be Paul Soliai's backup this year.
Here are five signings the Dolphins should at least consider.
Manny Lawson hasn't lived up to the expectations of a first-round pick in the 2006 draft. No one really seems to be seriously interested in signing the free agent linebacker.
Miami has an excellent linebacking corps set up, but the speedy Lawson could be brought in as a quality backup for certain situations.
He still has potential and won't break the bank. Lawson would be a great addition, if only for insurance.
Update: ESPN reported early Tuesday morning that Lawson signed a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bigby is injury-prone, but could add needed depth to the safety position in Miami as Dolphins safeties Chris Clemons and Rashad Jones haven't proven they are dependable or consistent starters.
Bigby would be competition for the starting job, bringing the best out of Clemons and Jones; and he'd be a quality backup to play in passing situations.
Expect Miami to sign a safety before the season begins. It may not be Bigby, or anyone even remotely on the radar, but this is probably the Dolphins' biggest defensive need right now.
Walker struggled with the Raiders in pass protection, but is a quality run blocker.
Miami's best tackle, Jake Long, was just placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list due to complications from offseason shoulder surgery. It doesn't appear to threaten his ability to start the season; Miami can take him off the list whenever they want. All it means is that he can participate in conditioning drills but not football plays.
Vernon Carey, Miami's other starting tackle, is injury-prone and missed four games last season.
Expect Long and Carey to be more than ready to start the season, but should an injury recur, it would be good for Miami to have the experienced Walker as a backup.
Update: Miam signed OT Marc Colombo Monday and also met with C Shaun O'Hara. It's possible that Colombo will replace RT Vernon Carey, who might be released.
O'Hara would be a very good, experienced center who would anchor the middle of the line and let Mike Pouncey move back to his natural position, guard.
Taylor went from beloved in Miami to despised the moment he signed with the Jets. Miami fans haven't forgotten or forgiven him yet.
But they will if Taylor returns to the Dolphins for a last hurrah.
He definitely has some gas left in the tank and can still play at a high level. He'll also come cheap.
One last season with the Dolphins, get four or five sacks, reinforce his legacy and finish his career where he started—where the fans remember just how much they really appreciate him.
Update: Taylor announced through his foundation's Facebook page that he will return to the Dolphins.
The team contacted him about coming back as a depth pass rusher, essentially the same role he had last year in New York.
Great move by the Dolphins.
The Broncos are a little over $9 million over the cap limit and Kyle Orton's 2011 salary is just under $9 million. They have been shopping Orton on the trade market but haven't been able to complete a deal. The deadline for teams to get their salary under the cap is Thursday.
The above facts point to one probable conclusion: Denver will release Orton by Thursday.
The Dolphins weren't willing to give up the reported second-round pick Denver was asking for in return and Miami is playing this deal wisely. Essentially, they're calling Denver's bluff.
Near the end of the week, I expect Orton to be a free agent and for Miami to sign him to a long-term contract.
Miami doesn't necessarily need Orton; Chad Henne and Matt Moore are expected to compete for the starting job, and though they haven't had much NFL success yet, they do still have potential to perform well in 2011.
However, Orton is an upgrade and can lead the Dolphins to the postseason.
Update: Denver is reportedly on the hook for paying Orton half of his salary already, and he's been outplaying Tim Tebow in practice. Orton could still be released by Thursday, but it's less likely than last week.