The Miami Dolphins have a glaring hole at running back but finding one should not come through the free-agent market but instead, the draft.
Water cooler chatter on social media continues over the running back situation for the Miami Dolphins and fans are not exactly all on board together with where that running back should come from. With two sides of the fence, clearly I am on one side.
Impending free agents are always popular to look at and this year’s potential runners are a decent class at the top. The problem is that “top” consists of only two players. Derek Henry of Tennessee and Melvin Gordon of the Chargers.
Gordon is likely to be the top free agent and the Chargers are not likely to get him re-signed but as good as Gordon’s potential is, there are questions if he will actually ever reach it. Gordon seems to be motivated by money and that isn’t a fit with Brian Flores and his vision for the team. In his career with the Chargers, Gordon has one season that 1,000 yards were reached.
That isn’t a deal-breaker because he has excelled in the passing game often catching for over 400 yards a season. Still, Miami needs a runner who can catch not a receiver who runs o.k. Regardless, Gordon is going to be expensive and Miami could spend that money elsewhere.
The same line of thinking holds for Henry as well. While Henry is more of what the Dolphins need, his monetary demands might be more than Miami should consider. Of the two backs, Henry is more desirable but it remains to be seen if the Titans will try and re-sign him. I think they will and I don’t think he will end up on the market.
Two of the next three are familiar to the Dolphins. Kenyan Drake who was traded to Arizona has not been given a new contract and will be a free agent in March. Lamar Miller is coming off a season on IR and will be a free agent. Unless Miami traded Drake to get the draft pick and gave him a wink/wink/nod/nod handshake, there is no way he is coming back to Miami. Miller is simply too old.
Finally, LeSean McCoy will hit free agency and frankly he is nothing like he used to be. Miami shouldn’t bother to kick those tires. In New York, there is a possibility that LeVeon Bell may be released from his contract despite what Adam Gase says about the length of it. If he is, he will still hold a lot of value on the market but not likely enough to bring him to Miami.
The draft is Miami’s best bet. Adding an aging runner in free agency isn’t going to help the rebuild. That player will likely be gone in another year or two when the Dolphins are hoping to be competitive. Drafting a running back in round two or three makes a lot of sense for the team and while some are pointing to taking a running back in the first round, I would wait and see what shakes off the draft tree after day one.
What the Dolphins can’t do, however, is try and find the solution in the middle of the draft like they have the last ten years. There is no problem with using one of those mid-round picks on a running back but Miami needs to invest higher and solve the position for years to come.
This is why Miami needs to avoid the free-agent market, at least at the top. They need sustainable production over the span of a few years if not more. The days of running backs playing 10 to 12 years are over let alone for one team but drafting mid-round players is too cyclic and needs to stop, or at least be supplemented by a higher drafted player. A one-two punch if you will.
The Dolphins have options and they need to be smart with how they use their cap space in the market and their draft capital wisely. Running back is a need and while Myles Gaskins adds depth and Patrick Laird adds a quality receiving back, the bruising gap runner is missing and needs to be found.