The Dolphins know they have to make changes to their roster. 21 players will be free agents in some form this year and not all of them will make their way back to South Florida. The Dolphins will have anywhere between $36 and $56 million in cap space to start the league new year in March.
Miami needs to allocate around $6 million for their draft picks and will need working money to use throughout the year but there is no question that the Dolphins will have enough money to make moves in the free agent market.
What we have learned over the last two seasons is that the Dolphins are getting better at how they spend their money. It’s unlikely that the Dolphins are going to make another Ndamukong Suh move any time soon. They likely won’t make even half that splash and they don’t need to.
The Dolphins won’t throw money at players like Olivier Vernon because they need to spread their roster out. Miami is likely to target linebackers and defensive ends but who will come in the draft and who will come in free agency? It’s far cheaper to draft a DE than to pay one on the open market where salaries have soared.
Offensively the Dolphins need to address the offensive guard positions and tight-end. Both of those could and should be addressed in free agency and Miami needs to spend a little more money at the guard position than they have in recent years. With the running ability of Jay Ajayi and the clear indication that the offense is much better when the starting offensive line is on the field, Miami should clearly understand that spending a little more will fix the problem.
Last season Miami spent on aging free agent veterans like Mario Williams and Andre Branch. Branch worked out while Williams did not. There is no reason that they can not supplement the holes and even the depth with cheap veteran options.
Honestly there is no reason to believe that the Dolphins roster won’t be better next season. Unlike previous years, the Dolphins have three top guys reviewing players. Tannenbaum, Grier, and Gase. Tannenbaum has final say but he has repeatedly said that all three come together to make decisions and he only steps in if they are all on different pages.
Free agency is one thing and the draft is another. Miami did well in 2016 with their draft picks. And all of them should continue to contribute and get better in 2017. In fact, the Dolphins got more work out of the 2015 class that was deemed to be almost a bust a year ago.
Jay Ajayi, DeVante Parker, Bobby McCain, Jordan Phillips, and Tony Lippett were all big time contributors this year. And that leads to our final area of improvement. Adam Gase.