The Miami Dolphins need to add at least one but more than likely two defensive ends during the off-season this year.
As the free agency period creeps closer to starting, March 9th, the Dolphins are examining their roster needs and exploring the landscape of a market that will likely inflate in annual salary with the recent $10 million increase in salary cap per team.
The Dolphins have a cap of around $174 million after adding the 2016 carry over to the league wide $167 million cap. They could add another $10 million in space, currently around $45 million by releasing players such as Dion Jordan and Koa Misi.
With each release however a hole is made although Misi was absent last season with a career threatening neck injury and Dion Jordan is, well, taking up breathing space on the roster.
Today however we take a look at the defensive end positions. The Dolphins recently gave Cameron Wake an extension and it’s being reported today that Wake wants to remain an every down player. Last year the Dolphins planned to keep him in on obvious passing downs but injuries forced them to play him more often.
The Dolphins recently released Mario Williams, a huge free agent mistake of 2016. Williams was beyond awful and it’s very possible that he has played his last game as a starter in the NFL. With Williams benched most of last season the Dolphins turned to Andre Branch another free agent addition and he played well enough to improve his free agent chances this off-season.
The Dolphins have only three defensive ends on the roster today. Branch, an impending free agent, Cameron Wake, and Terrence Fede.
Depending on what the Dolphins do with Koa Misi, whether they re-sign restricted free agent Kiko Alonso and Jelani Jenkins, and fix the guard positions, DE could be the biggest need for the Dolphins this off-season. With Branch heading to free agency, Fede still trying to find playing time and absolutely no other depth player on the roster, the Dolphins are in a bad position. Adding to the issue is that the market for DE’s in free agency is very thin and what little is there is very expensive. The Dolphins will have to address the position in the draft and free agency at some level.
Nick Perry – The Dolphins recently said they were “done” spending big in free agency but they will need to spend something on DE. Perry is 27 years old and the soon to be former Packer and first round pick has talent but needs coaching. He could be a mid-level option but with many of the top DE’s being franchise tagged, mid-level may be an expensive level.
Jabaal Sheard – The 28-year-old Patriot is hitting the open market and despite an off-year in 2016 he was still one of the best pass rushers for the Patriots. Again, the issue here is that the market is not good for teams needing edge defenders and they will pay for average players.
Andre Branch – Honestly the Dolphins would be smart to discuss a new contract with Branch and they may simply wait and see what Branch makes on the open market and then try to match it if they can. Branch played well last year but he isnt’ viewed by the Dolphins as full-time starter.
Devin Taylor – There is a few 27-year-old DE’s that have had decent seasons and then had poor seasons in 2016. Taylor is one of those. He shouldn’t be too expensive but he really is nothing more than depth at this point until he proves otherwise.
The Draft – Miami’s best option is the NFL Draft where it’s being reported to be extremely deep with talent both in round one, two, and as far back as three. Miami is expected to pursue an edge rusher in the draft which would make chasing a free agent nothing more than adding depth. Which by looking at their roster, they need.