There are four phases to free agency in the NFL. The day 1 flurry of activity and the first weekend, the second tier players, the lead up to the draft and restricted free agent signing deadline, and then finally, after the draft. I expect the Dolphins to be a little more active in the fourth phase this season.
Passing on quite a few players who they interviewed, poked, and prodded, the Dolphins are still looking to add some depth to positions of need. Specifically the offensive line which was only addressed with the signing of Artis Hicks…which still has a lot of people saying, “Huh?”. The truth is there are still a few players out there still available and their stock price won’t get any higher. These are players that will be replaced on rosters by incoming draft picks so one year deals will be about all they will get.
Tackles Marcus McNeil and Kareem McKenzie are still out there and both could be slotted to play right tackle if need be. At safety, O.J. Atogwe is still on the market and don’t be surprised if after the draft Jeff Ireland doesn’t do some tire kicking on former Colt TE Dallas Clark. Yes, he is up there in age but the team would have a seam threat for Joe Philbin’s offense and Clark knows Philbin from his days at Iowa.
At running back, not that the Dolphins need an RB, Cedric Benson is not only still available but has not made one free agent visit this off-season. Should the Dolphins fail to add depth at the DE position, Jarvis Moss and Andre’ Carter are two names sitting on top of the free agent market. Matt Roth, former Dolphins and Brown DE is also available. While we tend to say never say never, this one is likely a never.
Across the NFL landscape of the unemployed, there are still over 100 players not signed. Vernon Carey the RG turnstile is still on the market and to be honest should have likely been considered over Hicks for depth. Yeremiah Bell who is visiting with the NY Jets today is also still on the market although his agent has made it clear a Miami return will only happen in another teams uniform.
Following this weeks draft, teams will begin the signings of un-drafted free agents. While the talent pool is deep most do not make a mark on NFL rosters as starters or stick around as depth. Most are lucky if they make practice squads. For a team like the Dolphins with holes to fill, the NFL free agent market post-draft may solve some of their problems. Of course teams will also pare down their rosters in August leaving some quality veterans looking for work.
In other words, the team we have now is not likely the team we will have when the season begins.