Pass rushers the Miami Dolphins could still look to add
After spending the first wave of NFL free agency relatively quiet, the Miami Dolphins are expected to be much more active in the second wave.
Unlike in seasons past, the Miami Dolphins remained relatively quiet when the NFL free agency period got underway back in March. This should have come to no surprise with the understanding that the Dolphins are looking to rebuild.
Miami lost both Ja’Wuan James and Cameron Wake to free agency. Based off of their respective contracts that they received, each player should give the Dolphins a compensatory pick in 2020. Outside of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami did not sign any other players to significant contracts that could complicate their acquisitions of future comp picks. After Tuesday, the formula used to determine compensatory picks gets thrown out the window. This means the Dolphins will be able to sign any player they choose without worry of losing a comp pick.
Heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, one of the biggest areas of concern, and arguably the biggest, was adding a pass rusher. In addition to Wake signing with the Tennessee Titans, Miami traded Robert Quinn to the Dallas Cowboys, and rightfully released Andre Branch from his contract.
Many believed that the Dolphins would use their first or second-round pick on a pass rusher. With the selection of defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and trade for QB Josh Rosen, that would not be the case. In fact, Miami did not add a pass rusher at all in the three-day process unless you count outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel from Wisconsin in the fifth round.
That really only leaves the Dolphins with their disappointing 2017 first-round pick Charles Harris, Jonathan Woodard, and newly-signed Jayrone Elliott, formerly of the AAF, as Miami’s lead pass rushers. With the second wave of free agency set to begin, the Dolphins are highly expected to add another pass rusher, maybe two.
Here’s a look at a few players still out there on the market that Miami could have their eyes on.
Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reported on Monday that the Dolphins have had talks of adding former Packer Nick Perry. One interesting note that Beasley added is that Miami doesn’t need to wait until Wednesday to sign Perry. Perry was cut by the Green Bay Packers in March, and therefore, it would not count against the Dolphins should they reach an agreement before Wednesday.
Perry is a former first-round pick by the Packers in 2012. He had a disappointing season in 2018 after playing in just nine games. He was placed on injured reserve in November with a knee injury. In fact, injuries have been an issue for Perry as he has yet to play in a full season. He has 32 sacks in his career, including a career-high 11 in 2016.
The Dolphins may be out of the market for Ezekiel Ansah, but the fact that he has still not been signed indicates that teams may not value him at that price. After suffering a shoulder injury that limited him in 2018, Ansah may need to take a short-term deal to again prove himself.
If that is the case, Miami could be players. Ansah was picked fifth overall in 2013 by the Detroit Lions. In six seasons, he racked up 48 sacks for the Lions in 80 games played.
He’ll be 30 years old at the end of the month, and likely not an option for the Dolphins in the long-term. However, he could vastly improve their pass rush in the short-term.
Although Miami has parted ways with a number of veterans, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they bring back a familiar face. William Hayes has spent the last two seasons in Miami, and has been a key figure on their defensive line.
Hayes saw his season shortened to just three games in 2018 following a sack on Oakland QB Derek Carr. He was attempting to not land with his full weight on Carr that would’ve likely resulted in a penalty under the new rules. Unfortunately, Hayes tore his ACL in the process and was out for the rest of the season.
One could argue that prior to his injury, Miami’s defense played fairly well. After his injury, however, the Dolphins quickly turned into one of the worst defenses in the league. We’ll likely never know how much of a factor Hayes had on that, but he was a pivotal player on the Dolphins’ front line.
Hayes has the ability to play outside and can kick it inside as well. The new coaching staff may not want Hayes in a 3-4 scheme, but if they feel he is worthy to play in that format then signing Hayes to another one-year deal is not unimaginable.
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With a number of coaches formerly of the New England Patriots, any player that has been a part of that organization in the past is sure to be linked to Miami. Jamie Collins is no exception.
Collins was drafted by the Patriots in 2013. After an impressive 3+ seasons in New England, Collins was expecting his big payday to come soon. In typical Patriots fashion, Bill Belichick instead shipped Collins off to Cleveland before it was cool to go to Cleveland.
The Browns did give Collins the contract he was seeking by signing him to a four-year deal worth $50 million, but they decided to release him this past March ahead of the free agency period. Collins did record 104 tackles in 2018, and he may want to reunite with some of his former coaching staff now in Miami.
Money may be an issue, but the fact that Collins still isn’t signed limits the type of deal he may have originally been looking for.
I know. I know. Dion Jordan was a massive headache for the Dolphins since the day they traded up to get him with the third overall pick in 2013. Jordan failed drug tests on multiple occasions, which eventually led to his release in March of 2017.
He has spent his last two seasons in Seattle, and seemingly, has kept his nose cleaned. Jordan did deal with a knee issue while in Seattle, and he did not live up to the Seahawks’ expectations when they took a flier on him.
It should be clearly stated that Jordan would not be a top option for the Dolphins. He has never even sniffed his potential and would not likely be well received by the fanbase in a return. However, if Miami misses out on some other players or they are looking for someone to add on a non-guaranteed contract, Jordan could be on their short list.