Are the Miami Dolphins getting better


NFL free agency will begin today but the Miami Dolphins have made a lot of moves already. The question is are they or have they gotten better?

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Thus far the Dolphins have added a cornerback and a linebacker as well as a defensive end. The trade for Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso can not be official until later today but the signing of Mario Williams was official yesterday. He was free to sign with any team after released by the Bills.

Free agency news has been swirling since Tuesday when teams began entering contract talk with free agents. Top guard Kelechi Osemel signed a huge deal with the Raiders and free agent corner Janoris Jenkins signed with the Giants. Top linebacker Danny Travathan, a rumored target of the Dolphins looks to be headed to Detroit. The Dolphins meanwhile haven’t really been linked to anyone just yet.

Looking at the two moves that have been made thus far are head scratchers to some degree. Miami is banking that a change of scenery and a scheme change can turn around the careers of all three players.

Mario Williams is 31 and signed a very reasonable two year deal worth $8 million per season but in 2015 Williams had one of his worst seasons as a pro and was vocal about his role in Buffalo. The Bills ran a 3-4 scheme and Williams was in a 4-3 the previous the three years. Will moving back to a 4-3 increase his output? Miami is banking on it. The move will also likely spell the end of Olivier Vernon or Cameron Wake but it appears more likely that Wake will stay.

Byron Maxwell signed a $63 million deal as a free agent last off-season with the Eagles under Chip Kelly but the Eagles purged that salary and the Dolphins are hoping that a return to a zone coverage scheme, like Maxwell played in Seattle two years ago will return him to success. Last year Maxwell didn’t play horribly but he had an off season that spelled his early departure from the new Eagles team.

Sometime today we should learn what the exact trade parameters were. Thus far it’s rumored that Miami will swap the 8th overall pick in the draft for the Eagles 13th overall pick and receive the Eagles 4th round pick. But that is only a rumor at this time.

In 2012 Alonso was a big time rookie with a lot of potential and his play on the field showed it. But injuries sidelined him and last year he was part of the trade that sent LeSean McCoy to Buffalo. The Bills under new head coach Rex Ryan didn’t see the fit in their defense. After a season with the Eagles it became apparent he didn’t fit with theirs either. The Dolphins are hoping that they will get a player who will live up to his rookie expectations. At a fraction of the cost. Alonso will count just under $1 million for the 2016 season, the final of his contract barring a restructure by the Dolphins.

What hasn’t been changed yet is the offensive guard position and even with Alonso there are questions that the linebacking group got better. The same can be said about the secondary. While Maxwell is much better than Jamar Taylor it’s rumored that Brent Grimes will be let go which will create another hole at defensive back.

How Miami addresses these holes this week will be telling but on paper the Dolphins have improved but by how much? All three are risks with high rewards. Maxwell’s salary is around $9 million this year.

The market opens today and the Dolphins anticipate being active but they need to find players who can change the culture of the team and make them winners. It’s unclear if the moves thus far will do that.