The Miami Dolphins will not use a franchise tag on any of their players. The deadline to do so is close of business this afternoon.
No one player on the Dolphins 13 impending free agent list is worth a franchise or even a transition tag this year. And yes that very much includes Kenny Stills. The Dolphins have to make decisions on their 13 by March 9th and since teams can legally “tamper” with players starting on the 7th, they may need to get things done a little sooner.
Despite their own free agents none of them are going to truly fill holes on the roster. Dion Sims is good but not great. With Julius Thomas coming to Miami Sims is still valuable but not break the bank valuable. Other players are in the same position.
While Kenny Stills had a very good year in 2016 it was a contract year and since the Dolphins offense is built around the team and not the player, Still’s price tag might be way too high for Miami to consider re-signing. He may not be easily replaced but he can be replaced.
Then there is Andre Branch who fills a need at DE but Branch isn’t a long-term solution and his overall pay was slightly above average. If he comes back he is not guaranteed to start. And that is a reason he will likely sign elsewhere.
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So Miami will need to go into the free agent pool. They have money and they have holes. They can’t spend like they did on Ndamukong Suh but they need to spread their cap space around to incoming free agents and players like Jarvis Landry and Reshad Jones. All that being said, here is who I would target in order of priority.
1: Brandon Williams – Ravens – market value – $12.9 million per year. You can mask a lot of what is wrong with your linebackers and secondary when you can create a defensive line that can get pressure and stop the run. Williams paired with Ndamukong Suh would be a big improvement over Jordan Phillips and Earl Mitchell.
2: T.J. Lang – Green Bay – market value – $8.4 million per year. The Dolphins have not one but two empty guard positions and Lang is the 2nd best guard in this year free agency group behind Kevin Zeitler. Putting Lang next to Laremy Tunsil would keep the left side of the line as productive as last year when Branden Albert and Tunsil were both healthy.
3: Zach Brown – Buffalo – market value -$4.9 million per year. The value may be a little low for Brown but who knows until the market opens. Brown has had one stellar season in his career and that was last year. This is a young coachable player that should continue to thrive in Matt Burke’s defensive system which is based on Vance Joseph’s. Burke coached linebackers last season.
4: Jarvis Jones – Pittsburgh – market value not set. Jones is not a perfect player but he is very physical and plays mean at times. The Dolphins need someone with those attributes. He has played his career lining up behind future Hall of Fame linebacker James Harrison. He won’t be too expensive but could be a great addition to the team.
5: Calais Campbell – Arizona – market value – $8.4 million per year. Campbell is 30 years old and to put his value in prospective, Andre Branch’s value is less than one million under Campbell’s and many believe Miami should re-sign Branch. Campbell has a few more years in him but who would have though Cameron Wake would be playing this long at the same level?
Defense is obviously a priority and while I am not a fool and realize that all of the above players wouldn’t come to Miami it’s the order I would pursue based on team needs and production.