Top 5 NFL free agency defensive ends


When the 2016 NFL free agency period kicks off, defensive end is expected to be a hot commodity. The Miami Dolphins will be watching this closely but more because they have potentially a major need at the position.

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The Miami Dolphins currently have a moderate need at defensive end and that is because today, Olivier Vernon is still a member of the team. That could change over the next seven days. If the Dolphins do not re-sign Vernon they may turn their attention to another defensive end impending free agent, Derrick Shelby.

Shelby wants a chance to start but is he good enough yet? The other issue with the Dolphins is Cam Wake. At 34 years old and $9.5 million against the cap Wake could find himself looking for a new team as well. The Dolphins are hoping to restructure his deal but there are no guarantees. Miami could potentially lose all three of their top defensive end performers from a year ago.

The free agency class is not strong this year which might make the Dolphins turn to the draft. Which they very well may do regardless of what happens in free agency. Here is a look at five defensive end free agent prospects.

Chris Long – LA. Long has struggled the last two seasons but will still command a top salary in 2016. If he can turn his career around he would be a very solid addition but Miami would be better off spending the money on Vernon is more productive and a lot younger.

Muhammad Wilkerson – NYJ. Another top free agent option who will see his contract demands met. Wilkerson is a priority for the Jets but if the Dolphins could bring him into the fold he would provide a solid defensive edge player and hurt a division rival.

Jason Pierre-Paul – NYG. Before blowing up his hand, JPP was one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. Now he is struggling to change his game approach with missing fingers and a damaged hand. It will be interesting to see what his price will be and if he can get back to the form he was prior to his injury. He is 27 years old.

Akiem Hicks – NE. Hicks has talent but he has been inconsistent the last two seasons. Still the Patriots have had a very solid defensive unit and adding Hicks would help the Dolphins on the edge and against their division rival.

Olivier Vernon – Mia. It’s not a copout. Vernon is a top DE prospect in this years class and frankly he is going to command a contract that many of the other DE’s will command. For the Dolphins, getting him under contract would help solve a problem on their defense or they will pay close to the same price for another player who is older and has struggled.