Miami Dolphins 2017 NFL free agents: guards and defense

Jan 30, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Wilson NFL official Duke game Super Bowl LI footballs at the NFL Experience at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 30, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Wilson NFL official Duke game Super Bowl LI footballs at the NFL Experience at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Two of he biggest needs for the Miami Dolphins are guards and defense entering into this free agency. Here is a look at how it could play out.

This is the time of year everyone gets to play general manager and share views on how the Miami Dolphins could run things in order to fill their most glaring holes while also patching areas of greater weaknesses.

To do so there are three ways to get it done. Free agency, trades (a few are already lined up) and then the draft. All this has to fit in a budget in order to stay under the base salary cap (Est. 168 M$) while leaving some left over funds to sign a new class of rookies.

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The Miami Dolphins have also had a propensity to carry over money to the next season. (Approx.10 M$) So to stay in the budget some corners have to be cut. This means getting players at certain positions at a bargain price. A player’s agent is not going to offer teams a bargain price out of the goodness of their hearts.

Some of the ways to pay less are a so-called home town discount were a player likes being on a team/town and is willing to be paid less in order to stay in his surroundings. Having no state taxes in the state of Florida helps this matter and a small amount of other states/teams have the same situation.

A player may like a certain coach and see the value of playing under them. This was the case with Julius Thomas advising Jordan Cameron to do so. If reports are correct Thomas himself is now severely restructuring his contract with incentives.

Age, health issues and troublesome players can also be picked up at discounts. Just the last few seasons the Miami Dolphins have gone the health issue route for obtaining players. Before that it was a run on troublesome players. So the natural progression is to go with age now.

James Harrison is the role model for teams to go the age route. At age 38 the Steelers want him back and with good reason from his play on the field. Cameron Wake is also in the same light just resigning at age 35. If an older players performance has not dropped off significantly there should be little reason to believe it is imminent.

Mario Williams is the other side of the coin. His performance had dropped off along with warning signs from reports his tank was empty. But with such a past record and the assumption of him playing in the wrong scheme obtaining him seemed to be the worthwhile risk.

The last time the Miami Dolphins had a stout run defense was back when they had Randy Starks and Paul Soliai. They are both free agents now and both 33. Starks wasn’t picked up last season and had it off. Soliai was used sporadically with a reoccurring foot injury and not gaining favorable stats over the season. Players like this now would be situational at best. To get a three down defensive tackle would be breaking the bank. Although squeezing in a Zach Brown could be affordable with more cuts and restructures.

Speaking of situational former Miami Dolphins players Jared Odrick (29) is also a free agent now. And he has position flexibility that would allow him more playing time. However he also had an injury to his elbow that was in dispute over how it was rehabbed leading to placement on injured reserve. He played and started only six games while still having comparable stats to Jordan Phillips which is nothing out if this world.

One other advantage from picking up early cuts during free agency is they do not factor into determining how the compensatory draft picks formula works out besides any potential cost savings.

One more example of players that were available was Dwight Freeney at the age of 37 having 3 sacks last season and 8 the season before. The money saved going older on defense during free agency could go toward getting the better guards. Someone that matches up perfectly is Ronald Leary. He already plays left guard, is young at 27 and is durable. While he is near the top of the price range there is a chance he could come at a slightly reduced price which would help to try to fill a right guard spot.

Even though breaking news is stating Ryan Tannehill’s knee is fully healed having a good offensive line would not only help him to play better but also someone else that needed to step in should his knee go bad.