On paper the Miami Dolphins have improved through free agency

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Danny Amendola /
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Before the free agency period began the Dolphins traded for defensive end Robert Quinn. Immediately the question was why the Dolphins would trade for a defensive end and what future does this hold for the other defensive ends on the team.

Quinn is very good defensive end but the position is crowded with Charles Harris, Cameron Wake, and Andre Branch. Miami re-signed William Hayes as well. Each fit a role and Wake will be more than likely relegated to obvious passing situations. Quinn’s addition should give the Dolphins more upfield push when he is on the field.

Miami’s biggest move however came with the release of Ndamukong Suh. Suh’s release was more to do with cap structure than his performance on the field. In fact his performance was always 100% but the Dolphins felt that although Suh was playing fine the defense was still missing something. Miami has struggled with run defense with Suh on the field.

The biggest question now is the linebacker unit where Miami will get Raekwon McMillan back after he missed his rookie season but they still need to add a linebacker and the draft looks to be where they will find one. Potentially a first round talent.

The secondary is unchanged and the second half of the season the defensive back-field played much better. With T.J. McDonald on the field for a full-season the defensive secondary should get better, provided the Dolphins can find the right player/s to play linebacker.

Overall the defense is going to be a question mark heading into training camp. The loss of Suh will hurt but Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, and Jordan Phillips should be able to maintain at least the same production on the line of scrimmage which means the linebackers have to do a better job.

It is too early to grade these additions and subtractions but Miami has done well to add players who lead not just by example on the field but vocally as well. The loss of Suh should allow other players to speak up instead of waiting for him to do so. It may sound stupid to say that but younger players looked at the veteran for guidance and Suh was never the type of player open his mouth and lead. That is something that Miami lacks and something they are hoping these moves will change.

Frankly the off-season model Miami has employed the last decade or more hasn’t worked. Miami has tried the top name in free agency route, to no success. They have tried to go the cheap veteran plugin route to no success. Now they have removed some veterans who may have been part of the problem or at the very least not part of a solution and have opted to go with players who have a high football IQ and know the game more as a team sport than as an individual and that is something Miami no longer could afford.