12 2016 NFL free agency linebackers

Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) dabs after recovering a fumble against the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter in Super Bowl 50 at Levi
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) dabs after recovering a fumble against the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter in Super Bowl 50 at Levi /

There is now eight days until the start of the 2016 NFL free agency period, in six days the legal tampering period can begin and for now, new around the Miami Dolphins is awfully quiet. Rumors should start popping up in the coming days.

More from Dolphins News

The Dolphins are expected to pursue at least one linebacker in free agency, possibly two. They will also look at the draft in April if they can’t find more than one option in the market. The Dolphins lacked production from the linebacker position in 2015 and despite Koa Misi playing well, his tackle were not always at the point of contact.

While Jelani Jenkins is likely to hold his position, the Dolphins desperately need to find a better option in the middle and it’s possible that Misi could be staring at competition in camp as well. The Dolphins have some young linebackers on their roster including Neville Hewitt who played well at the end of the season when he started in place of an injured Jenkins but he still needs to develop. How Miami addresses this issue will be paramount to the teams defensive success in 2016.

Here are 12 possible targets for the Dolphins.

Inside linebackers

Rolando McClain – Dallas. McClain has  had a bumpy NFL career but he turned things around with Dallas in 2015 and appears to be headed in the right direction. McClain has a lot of talent but has yet to become a leader, something the Dolphins need to find which could rule him out as a possibility.

Jerrell Freeman – Colts. Freeman was very good against the run last season and began to emerge as a defensive leader for the Colts. He is only 26 years old and it appears that he may reach his potential very soon.

Danny Trevathan – Denver. Trevathan is the top inside linebacker in this years class. He has high potential and a lot of talent and could step in and become the leader on the defense quickly. Coming from a Super Bowl winning defense doesn’t hurt either. The only question is will he thrive in a 4-3 as opposed to the 3-4 in Denver where he benefited from the stellar play of Von Miller?

Sean Weatherspoon – Arizona. At 28 years old, Weatherspoon still has a lot left to offer and he would be coming from a strong Arizona team. Weatherspoon has spent much of his career injured and played one season in Arizona on a one year deal. He may not be an immediate starter option but he could provide solid depth at the position if Miami believes they can address the inside during the draft.

James Laurinaitis – LA. Laurinaitis is one of the top linebackers in this class but there is a problem here. He is no longer the player he used to be and his production has started to slide. He is 29 years old so it’s unlikely he will make a 100% turnaround. However pairing him with Suh up front could help and the leadership that he would bring would be valuable. The other problem is that he will ask for a lot more money than he probably warrants.

Shea McClellin – Chicago. Does Adam Gase know enough about the former 2012 draft pick of the Chicago Bears? McClellin is a converted defensive end who has played well at times and very well at others. He has also played poorly and the Dolphins need a lot more consistency from the interior positiion.

Brandon Marshall – Denver. The Broncos would like to re-sign Marshall but they have Von Miller as their number one priority this off-season. They will likely tag Miller and then focus on what they are going to do at quarterback. Marshall could hit free agency. If he does, he will be expensive but he is a lot more rounded and proven than Trevathan.

Outside linebacker

Lamar Woodley – Arizona. Woodley is heading into the end of his career. A very good career with the Steelers and Cardinals. Woodley is 31 years old but he could be had on a two year deal with reasonable cap numbers and he would be that veteran who could push Koa Misi on the outside.

Quinton Coples – Miami. The Dolphins released Coples to save his fully guaranteed $7 million contract they inherited from the Jets. Coples played well and added valuable depth to the defense. He could return on a much reduced contract and a one or two year deal. At 25 there is still a lot of football left in him but he needs to reach his talent expectations.

Courtney Upshaw – Baltimore. Upshaw is 26 years old and has played well with the Ravens. He still has a ceiling he has not yet met and a change of scenery could do him well.

Bruce Irvin – Seattle. Irvin has spent his entire career in Seattle and want’s to stay but it’s no longer up to him and he will hit free agency for the first time in his career. Irvin is a solid outside linebacker who has a lot of leadership qualities that teams look for and he handles the edge well against the run.

Aldon Smith – Oakland. Smith has extremely high potential but comes with a boatload of troubling issues. He was supsended nine game by the league for substance issues and had a DUI that resulted in his release from the 49’ers. Miami doesn’t tend to float in this type of players direction but if Smith want’s to continue his career he will likely play on a low salary which might be worth the risk.