As free agency opens, time for Miami Dolphins to address offense
It worked. The Dolphins took a giant leap forward from 32nd to 6th in scoring defense.
When the NFL's free agency negotiating window opens again on Monday, with players able to sign as early as Wednesday, it's time for Miami to address the offense.
"We want to improve really in as many areas as possible, on all three sides of the ball," Dolphins coach Brian Flores said Thursday. "I think that now is the time for that."
Again — now is the time to address the offense.
Now is the time to provide weapons to new co-offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville.
Now is the time to offer support, notably weapons, for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
"We’re going to try to do the best we can," Flores said, citing the NFL's lowered salary cap. Still, the Dolphins have about $33 million in cap space, according to Spotrac, which is 8th-best in the NFL.
Van Noy was cut, mostly because his salary could not be justified when evaluated against his ability. But still, the Dolphins currently have 44 percent of their cap space devoted to defensive players and only 36 percent to offense.
Ideally, the Dolphins will come away from free agency with at least one high-caliber receiver and running back as well as a capable center.
Miami needs playmakers. They needs players who can create big plays, who can gain yards after the catch and can strike some fear into opposing defensive coordinators.
While it is true there's a good chance Miami will draft one or two receivers (Ja'Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle?) in the first round of the NFL Draft in April, it would be very beneficial to add at least one real threat in March.
While it is true there's a good chance Miami will draft a running back (Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, Javonte Williams?) in the first or second round of the NFL Draft in April, it really is necessary to add a legitimate rushing threat in March.
As for center, it's entirely possible Ted Karras returns if he's willing to accept a reasonable contract offer. But there are other options, including Corey Linsley of Green Bay and David Andrews of New England.
At receiver, the Dolphins will be tempted by Kenny Golladay, who was not franchise-tagged by the Lions. Golladay has size and strength and wins contested passes and frankly reminds a bit of DeVante Parker.
JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Steelers is a football fit, but will Flores believe he's a fit for the locker room? The Dolphins could use an explosive, shifty, slippery talent.
Will Fuller (Houston), Curtis Samuel (Carolina), Corey Davis (Tennessee) and Nelson Agholor (Las Vegas) are among the big-play threats the Dolphins will surely explore.
At running back, the Dolphins must consider if Aaron Jones of the Packers is worth a lofty price tag. Jones has power, speed and receiving skills and would be an excellent fit for Miami's offense.
But if Miami decides, like many teams, that they just can't invest heavily at running back, there are lower-priced options. Chris Carson (Seattle), James Connor (Pittsburgh), Le'Veon Bell (Chiefs) and James White (Patriots) should all be considered.
The Dolphins went 10-6 last season, but did not make the playoffs. Miami will once again have a very young roster. And the plan will continue to be to build through the draft.
But Flores and Grier and owner Stephen Ross also want to win big as soon as possible. They will not pass on the opportunity to add a player they think could be the difference between making or not making the playoffs in 2021.
Miami has played in one playoff game in the past 12 years and did not appear in the playoffs in 2017, '18, '19 or '20.
"You always want the most talent you can get, the most playmakers offensively, defensively and in the kicking game," Flores said. "But at the end of the day, you want – you don’t need 11 stars."
True, but a star or two might help the cause.
At some point, the Dolphins will need to add a backup quarterback. They'll probably look to add a serviceable defensive lineman or two and perhaps a pass-rusher with upside.
There will be few arguments made if the Dolphins target a premium pass-rusher like Yannick Ngakoue or Shaq Barrett. But Miami might not prioritize that position this cycle.
The Dolphins are an attractive free agent destination. Miami is a franchise on the rise. There's good weather and no state income tax.
But Grier and Flores will always try to spend smartly.
"We may get priced out on some guys we’re looking at that we’d like to have," Flores cautioned. "They may just want to go elsewhere. You can't always get what you want."
But it sure would be a nice if a few offensive playmakers decide Miami is exactly what they want. Because the Dolphins need them.