Sept 23, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Richard Marshall (31) protests a pass interference penalty in a game against the New York Jets at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Recently, the Miami Dolphins finally added a corner to the impressive free agent haul the team was able to reel in this season. Fans have been begging for Dolphins’ General Manager, Jeff Ireland, to sign a veteran corner to boost the secondary. He did just that when he agreed to terms with 29 year-old free agent, Brent Grimes, on a one-year, $5.5 million deal.
Brent Grimes, a former Atlanta Falcon, was one of the league’s better corners on the market. During his 59-game tenure with the Falcons, Grimes reeled in 13 balls and batted 56 balls down. That being said, Grimes is also coming off an Achilles injury that limited his 2012 season to one game – Grimes tore his Achilles in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The hope remains in play that Grimes can get himself back to competing at a high level for the Phins this season. If Grimes can get himself back to his 2010 form in which he tallied 87 tackles, while also reeling in 5 interceptions, then the team has added one of the league’s top corners.
Even so, are the Miami Dolphins done adding players to the secondary?
No. The team is far from done adding players to the secondary.
The safety position is all but locked up at this point. Do not expect Miami to draft a safety high – although adding one in the mid to late rounds would not be a bad idea (Bacarri Rambo or Robert Lester, please). Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones formed one of the league’s best safety duos last season – ranking towards the top of the league in coverage and run support. Jimmy Wilson, entering his third season with the team, will see a little of this and a little of that in the secondary. Wilson seems to be better suited in a dime or nickel-back role; but can also play a little safety if need be. Kelcie McCray is a player the team is incredibly high on. After suffering a season-ending injury, McCray should be healthy entering the 2013 season adding depth and youth to the safety position.
Even after signing Grimes, corner is still a concern. Grimes is coming off a season-ending injury. Richard Marshall, whom Miami signed last off-season, is coming off of a season-ending injury; while also playing incredibly poorly during his first season with the team. Dimitri Patterson played well in limited time with the Dolphins last season, but owns a hefty contract for a back-up or nickel corner. Nolan Carroll was picked on in just about every game last season; proving to be the Dolphins true weak-point in the secondary. R.J. Stanford and Julian Posey are two young guys, but neither has true upside as your prototypical number-one corner.
What is Miami’s best option to help “fill out” the corner position?
The first question Miami must answer is, do we feel comfortable with a combination of Grimes and either Marshall or Patterson in our starting line-up? If yes, corner is not a pressing need and can be pursued during the latter rounds. If no, then the team must first decide on Patterson’s future – if Miami cuts Patterson the team will not suffer a cap hit even though he carries a hefty contract. Then the team must decide on where to go from here. Fill the corner position via the draft or via free agency.
Miami’s best option, overall, is to turn their focus toward the NFL Draft after the free agent market has been completely depleted recently. The upcoming corner class is incredibly deep during rounds two and three for teams looking for starting caliber corners.
No, the signing of Grimes does not mean Miami will not look at Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes or Washington’s Desmond Trufant with the 12th overall selection in the first round, but the team has pushed that need down the list a bit.
Adding a corner or two during the second or third rounds would be in Miami’s best interest. Candidates such as David Amerson (N.C. State), Robert Alford (Southern Louisiana), Blidi Wreh-Wilson (UConn), D.J. Hayden (Houston), Jordan Poyer (Oregon State), Jamar Taylor (Boise State), Logan Ryan (Rutgers), Darius Slay (Miss. State), Jonathan Banks (Miss. State), and Sanders Commings (Georgia) are all logical fits for the Miami Dolphins’ zone scheme on defense.
Miami will be looking to add long, agile and strong corners who can also help in run support to their defense – a large reason why I believe the team let corner Sean Smith leave via free agency.
But whom exactly? We shall see some April. Until then, stay thirsty my Phins.