Dolphins pre-free agency position analysis: RB’s


The Dolphins are down to a few weeks before a final decision on running back Lamar Miller is made. That decision will set the course for the free agency work Miami will put in at the position.

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Lamar Miller is one of the top Miami Dolphins impending free agents this year and Miller is also one of the top free agents in the NFL at his position. In fact, he may be the best running back option this off-season for teams looking to add a versatile running back.

The Dolphins face a tough decision with Miller. Miller is expected to receive an offer in the $5 million per season ballpark. Based on his comparable side by side statistics Miller has a market value around $5 million per season. This would put him around similar runners like Jonathan Stewart and another impending free agent, Chris Ivory.

The Dolphins have to decide if they are going to make the move to keep Miller by either paying him the $5 million or hoping they can work out a structured deal that will decrease the cap hit he would create. If the Dolphins can’t work out a new deal then the job of running the ball falls on the shoulders of 2nd year player Jay Ajayi.

Ajayi ran well once he was recovered from his broken rib and he looks to have the tools to become an everyday back. The issue is that Damien Williams is the only other running back on the roster and if the team loses Miller they are going to need another serviceable option.

The retention of Miller is key in the sense that it will predicate whether or not the Dolphins address the position in free agency and in reality the draft as well. The Dolphins like Miller but can they afford his contract wishes?

If the Dolphins turn to the market to replace Miller they will need to rule out players like Doug Martin and Chris Ivory who will be seeking similar deals to Miller’s. Instead they will need to look at players like Matt Forte who is now seeing the end of his career on the horizon. Miami could also invest in a player like Bobby Rainey who has had solid games with the Buccaneers but needs more development. Other names include Stevan Ridley and Ronnie Hillman. Gase is familiar with Hillman from his time in Denver and Forte from his time with Chicago.

The NFL is no longer a running back dominated league. That pendulum has swung towards the receivers and tight-ends. Few teams employ single workhorse runners anymore and backs who are able to carry the ball and receive out of the back-field have become far more value and teams have been using alternating series with alternating runners. For now the dominating runners like Adrian Peterson are taking a back-seat.

Team Need – light to moderate

Free agency need – dependant on Lamar Miller situation

Target in free agency or draft – free agency would be best option