The Miami Dolphins have been active in free agency but far from the big ticket signings of years past. The slower approach has left the team with holes still left to be filled.
One thing that the Dolphins are doing is getting away from the free spending seasons under Jeff Ireland and Dennis Hickey and trying to become far more calculated in the money they spend. One question that keeps getting asked is has the Dolphins done enough to gain ground on the Patriots in the AFC East? The answer is no.
Forget about what the Patriots have done so far this off-season. The additions of Kony Ealy and Stephon Gillmore in free agency added with the trades for Brandin Cooks and Dwayne Allen have made the Patriots stronger but even without those moves Miami hasn’t made enough to gain ground.
The focus of the Dolphins can’t be to beat New England they have to beat the AFC East as a whole and that includes the Patrtiots. Miami’s focus this off-season has been to sign their own players and supplement their roster with short-term solutions.
Obviously the signing of Kenny Stills was a big deal as was the extension for Reshad Jones. Andre Branch’s deal was a little eye brow raising given the fact he will average around $8 million a season and is a player that was supposed to be rotational and is still viewed as such.
Ted Larsen is a good value guard for three years but isn’t someone who can be relied upon to be the unquestioned starter. The Dolphins trade for William Hayes cost them a 6th round draft pick for what now amounts to a one year rental after redoing his contract.
Hayes and Larsen are band-aid fixes to the overall team problems at two of their positions. The same can be said about LB Lawrence Timmons whose short-term deal means the 32-year-old is only a short-term fix to a bigger problem.
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The Dolphins are hoping to fill the same positions with players from the draft pools over the next two or three seasons. Having veterans in place that can hold the job until the rookie is ready is important but it doesn’t make the team as a whole stronger. It only means were are seeing a practical approach to a roster “rebuild” or make-over if you prefer.
Miami still has holes at guard and you could argue both guard positions at that. They have a hole at safety where Nate Allen has been signed but isn’t viewed as a complimenting starter to Reshad jones. He will need to compete. Linebacker is still lacking one outside starter and replacements for Timmons eventually.
Defensive end is still a big question mark beyond the immediate season and defensive tackle is still an immediate concern this year. The Dolphins still have a lot of work to do but they are running dry on the funds to make the ends meet. It’s estimated that all of the spending thus far has taken the Dolphins down to around $10 million in remaining cap space. They still have to sign their rookie class which will be around $6 million in space.
Overall the Dolphins have made some good moves and some questionable moves but nothing is, as of yet, delivering them the next step in their growth. It’s merely eliminating immediate needs with aging veterans or cheap options while they try to fill with the draft.
At least they are not free spending on players that simply have no business on the team.