Nov.25, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Dolphins are going to try and fix a defense that has holes and an offense that can’t score. They have the draft picks to get younger and the salary cap space to add veterans but where those players will come from is anyone’s guess.
About the only thing that anyone does know is that GM Jeff Ireland doesn’t overspend on players that don’t warrant the larger salaries. He knew he needed a QB two off-seasons ago. He opted for Matt Moore over the far more expensive Kyle Orton. He needed to upgrade the offensive line and took Mike Pouncey with the 16th overall pick.
Many question Jeff Ireland’s ability to find talent and even more question whether he is the right guy have a 40 million dollar checkbook. It doesn’t matter what the opinions of anyone is at this point. Jeff Ireland will call the shots and try and transform this team.
Offensively the Dolphins need to find a wide-receiver, an offensive lineman or two, and a TE. On defense he will need to find a LB, a pass rushing outside backer, depth at DE, possibly two starting CB’s, and another safety. The days of building the team and giving them time to grow is over. He needs to fill those positions with play-makers.
When free agency rolls around in March, the Dolphins may find it easier to fix the offensive problems first. WR should be a position that Miami can address giving Ryan Tannehill a legit threat on the outside. Ireland can also take care of the offensive line with solid athletic lineman that fits the philosophy of Joe Philbin.
The market for TE’s isn’t as strong and the Dolphins would be wise to look to the draft and possibly Tyler Eifert. With Anthony Fasano a question to return the Dolphins will need to address that spot and Jermichael Finley of GB can’t be ruled out as a FA addition.
Defensively, the Dolphins may find it a little more difficult to address all their needs but the draft usually produces talent that can step in and make an impact in the NFL year one. A pass rushing OLB/DE could be drafted in round 1 and with two picks in round 2, the Dolphins could opt for a pair of young corners that could step in and play now.
The Dolphins also have two selections in round three and they could address the needs for MLB and safety. The one certain thing about this off-season is that the Dolphins have the money to make an impact on their roster with talent and not fringe players that are more or less support members.
The Dolphins will have to make a decision of course on their own free agents but the reality is that none of those free agents are necessarily must re-sign players. Fans love Reggie Bush but his play can be up and down. Jake Long has been discussed to the point of nausea but even he doesn’t seem to excel in a zone blocking scheme.
The other top two free agents, Sean Smith and Brian Hartline do not produce to the point that they can’t be replaced. Almost easily. Smith doesn’t deliver the turnovers and Brian Hartline isn’t a number one WR. The rest of the Dolphins free agents are more than expendable.
Jeff Ireland will likely approach his own free agents as he will those from other teams. With caution and diligence. Ireland can not however simply sit back and wait. He must be aggressive and he will most likely overpay for at least a couple of free agents. He just needs to make sure that he overpays the right guys.
More importantly, Ireland and company must make sure that the contracts they add to the teams cap will not hinder the team in future years. Ireland has never made decisions based on the worry that he would lose his job and there is no reason for him to start now.
Regardless of who or what the Dolphins decide to add, this off-season could have the makings of one of the most intriguing off-seasons in almost a decade. For the first time since the Dave Wannstedt era, the Dolphins are not trimming their roster to create cap space, are not trying to add bargain players, and have the draft picks necessary to supplement what they don’t address in free agency.