Dolphins impending free agents, keep or let go?


With days now standing between the 2015 NFL league year and the 2016 NFL league year, teams are scrambling to make final pushes towards re-signing their own free agents prior to the start of the 2016 new year. The Miami Dolphins have decisions to make as well.

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We have looked at a few of the decisions that the Dolphins need to address in the coming days. You can read that here. Who should the Dolphins keep and who should they let go? Here is a look at all of the Dolphins impending free agents, their free agent status, and what their future should be with the team.

Olivier Vernon – DE – unrestricted free agent.

No matter what happens between Miami and Vernon this week, Vernon is going to make a lot of money this off-season. His contract will fall somewhere between $9.5 to $11 million per season depending on how teams structure his contract and signing bonus. The Dolphins would like to keep Vernon but there are questions. Vernon played very well the 2nd half of the season but his first eight weeks were average at best. Did he turn his game on to make a statement for money and his free agent status?

Keep him or let him go

The Dolphins can not afford to go into the off-season with another major need and Miami is very thin at the position. Cam Wake is coming off an Achilles injury and Derrick Shelby is also a free agent. If the right contract can be worked out. Miami should keep him.

Lamar Miller

Miller has been productive over the last few years and last year he took a dip but that was more the faults of the coaching staff than his production. He averages around 4.5 yards per carry and is a threat in the passing game both as a blocker and pass catcher. His blocking has improved and this year he is a top 4 free agent running back who reportedly wants around $5 million per season.

Keep him or let him go

Miller’s production has been solid but he is a running back that can be replaced. While I am a huge fan of Miller the Dolphins have far more needs that are going to cost a lot of money to fill and fix. Running backs are not what they used to be and are far more interchangeable and for that reason, if the asking price is indeed North of $4 million, I’m letting him go.

Kelvin Sheppard

Sheppard played poorly for the first three quarters of last season but came on strong in the final quarter (four games). Like Vernon I have to ask if that is a push for recognition in free agency or did something finally click within this defense.

Keep him or let him go

The Dolphins need to improve their linebacker corp and frankly Sheppard is a reason why. I’m not keeping him unless he is paid as a back-up and is a back-up.

Derrick Shelby 

While Shelby has played well when given time on the field, it’s uncertain if he can be an every down player. He wants the chance to start and I don’t see that opportunity coming in Miami but it could given the holes Miami is expected to have at the DE position.

Keep him or let him go

If I can get him back at a reasonable price, I would keep him. Shelby has talent and may be a year away from being a full time impact player at the position.

Rishard Matthews

Matthews had a very good season in 2015 before suffering a season ending chest injury. Matthews finally was able to show his ability and unlike the other free agents, he didn’t wait until seasons end to turn it on. Over the course of the first half of the season, Matthews was very reliable in the Dolphins passing game.

Keep him or let him go

While it would be a big boost for the offense to retain Matthews his price tag will be too high for Miami to really keep around. Ideally you would want to but Miami has a good receiving group and it may be time time to give Matt Hazel the same shot Miami gave Matthews last season.

Matt Moore

The Dolphins haven’t seen much from their back-up quarterback the last two seasons. Well, except for pre-season contests. Moore hasn’t looked good in those games but he does bring leadership to the field and is the only experienced quarterback behind Ryan Tannehill.

Keep him or let him go

The Dolphins will likely explore retaining Moore on another one or two year deal and frankly the QB market isn’t that good this year for back-ups. Bringing him back for another season will allow the Dolphins to find a suitable option to work with this year and replace Moore in 2017.

Louis Delmas

For the 2nd year in a row, Delmas was injured and placed on IR. Bringing him back is a risk but it would serve to provide one less position to fill this off-season. If the price is right (league minimum) I’d bring him back for one more season.

Spencer Paysinger

When Paysinger got on the field many wished he would stay off it. Paysinger was outplayed by two of the teams undrafted rookies and his contributions on special teams were not enough to keep him another season.

Jaques McClendon and Shelley Smith

Both players were re-signed late in the season after previously being on the teams roster. Miami has a lot of work to do on the offensive line and re-signing both of them will allow the team to have some competition in training camp as neither player will receive a guaranteed contract.

The rest of the free agents are either restricted free agents or exclusive rights free agents and will command league minimum or slightly above salaries. Of those players, Jake Stoneburner should be a priority as he has shown a lot of potential in his short time with the team and his play on the field.