2021 Miami Dolphins free agency primer, it’s almost go time!

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 24: Center Corey Linsley #63 of the Green Bay Packers lines up to snap the ball in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 24: Center Corey Linsley #63 of the Green Bay Packers lines up to snap the ball in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Miami Dolphins approach to free agency will be as important as their approach to the draft and in either case, they have to be smart.

With Free agency approaching, you can already sense that teams are conducting an in-depth analysis of their current cap structure and how to fully utilize their budgets for this upcoming season.  The NFL salary cap has grown its lowest yield this offseason and it is 100% due to the global pandemic that has been caused by Covid-19.

As many media outlets have shared, look for this upcoming offseason to be different than anything you have ever seen before.  Based on the shake-out, there could be an interesting trend that continues to develop as aging veteran players, regardless of their team or contract status, could be on the chopping block – perfect example Kyle Van Noy.

Noy was a great team captain and leader for the Miami Dolphins, but going into the 30+ age group and with a commanding 10+million cap hit, these players fail into that ‘developing pattern.’

Regardless of how the cookie crumbles, the Miami Dolphins’ first course of action will be to continue their salary cap assessment.  Here is a look at four players I believe will be cut before the start of the free agency period:

Bobby McCain – Free Safety.

Name one game in the past two years that Bobby McCain made a game-changing play? I can’t even remember this past year where he made a game-changing play?  Against the Raiders he was supposed to be over the top help, but took the wrong angle and was caught in a foot race and lost.  Cutting McCain makes sense, he’s injury-prone and doesn’t live up to his 8MM cap hit.  There are cheaper, faster, and more dynamic players that could take his position.

Jakeem Grants – Wide Reciever 

Grant is an exceptional returner, but he’s not a legit Wide Receiver.  The Dolphins thought he could be their speed demon on the outside, and it’s just not working out.  I believe Grant is a great team player, but 4MM cap hit to a player that returns punts isn’t ideal.  With Albert Wilson coming back at 2M – it just makes sense to move on.

Allen Hurns – Wide Reciever 

I know the Dolphins front office resigned Hurns, and then Hurns opted out due to Covid.  The Dolphins will look to bring back Albert Wilson, and his salary is more affordable and present a better outcome.  With Preston Williams returning, the youth movement in the WR room continues.

Clayton Fejedelem – Safety

Special teams players that led the unit in tackles, which is exactly what you want. But his salary doesn’t justify special teams and the Dolphins would be wise to find a cheaper replacement in the draft.

Cutting these 4 players and with Van Noy off the books, allow the Dolphins to create 60MM in cap space as they head into free agency.  Reviewing the Miami Dolphins free agent candidates, I pass on all of them – meaning, I don’t resign them.  They might be Miami Dolphin ‘good’, but I want NFL great.  With that being said, I focus my attention on the following players:

Corey Linsley (C) accepted your 4-year offer for $10,500,000 per year

Ted Karras was ok last year, but he didn’t win the battle in the trenches enough to warrant the Dolphins to resign him.  The Dolphins would be wise to use this newfound cap space and get the best player in the market.  Linsley is a beast upfront and would pave the way for Tua’s development.

Haason Reddick (LB) accepted your 3-year offer for $10,000,000 per year

The Dolphins need to replace Van Noy’s presence on the field.  Reddick did have a breakout season last year (yes it was his only one), but with the Cardinals signing JJ Watt, Reddick will be able to hit the open market.  His sideline to sideline speed is what the Dolphins need to get better, faster, and younger to an already dynamic speed rush.

Kawann Short (DT) accepted your 1-year offer for $5,000,000 per year

Davon Godchaux will hit the free-agent market, mainly due to the contract that he is looking to find for himself, which is fair.  Short is a short-term solution, no pun intended.  The Dolphins already have Wilkins and Davis but need rotation help and Short is a one-year stopgap that makes sense.

Malik Hooker (S) accepted your 3-year offer for $7,000,000 per year

Remember the game-changing plays that Bobby McCain didn’t or hasn’t produced, Malik was the opposite of that.  Hooker registered 95 tackles, seven passes defended, four interceptions, and two fumble recoveries, all while also implementing amazing coverage grades of 79% (extracted from Pro Football Focus), and he is four years younger than McCain.

March is the beginning of spring, but it is also the beginning of the NFL rumor mill, or how I like to call it, soap opera drama.

The Miami Dolphins are finally allocated to prime time – well kinda.  They will share that spotlight with almost every team as the Free Agency period is set to start in a few weeks.

Signing these four free agents leaves the Dolphins with still 39MM in cap space, which is more than enough to watch out for any other free agent players, but this type of grab is smart money spent.  What do you think of these signings?

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Now you understand how I would attack free agency, I’ll share my thoughts on the NFL draft next week.