The Miami Dolphins have some questions to answer at the linebacker position, and impending free agent Jordan Hicks could answer them.
Over the past two seasons, the Miami Dolphins have posted winning records thanks in large part to some stout defensive efforts – with some key plays being made by their linebacker corps, but some changes could be on the horizon within that unit.
In a 3-4 defensive scheme, the Dolphins utilise two inside linebackers with Jerome Baker entrenched as one of the team’s starters after four years with 409 career tackles (265 solo), but his partner through the middle could be changing.
Elandon Roberts, who joined the Dolphins prior to the 2020 campaign, is an impending free agent and there’s every possibility that he moves on to a new team via free agency when it opens next week, leaving a hole at a crucial position on defense that needs addressing.
One player that could be the ideal replacement, and even a possible upgrade, is Arizona Cardinals’ Jordan Hicks, who is expected to hit the open market after three exceptional years in the desert.
Selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round (84th overall) of the 2015 Draft, Hicks established himself with 254 tackles (181 solo) and five sacks in 43 games between 2015 and 2018.
The Eagles won Super Bowl LII after the 2017 season, with Hicks unfortunately missing out on the post-season after suffering an injury seven games into the regular season.
After four years, Hicks signed with the Cardinals in free agency and has racked up an impressive 384 tackles (246 solo), 29 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles with an equal amount of recoveries and four interceptions.
He has been a key part of the Cardinals’ defensive squad, and was named a team captain, but has found himself released by the team in order to usher in a new era with 2021 first round selection Zaven Collins taking over from the 29-year-old veteran.
For the Dolphins, this presents an opportunity for them to target an impact player with proven leadership qualities in free agency and provide Baker with a partner on the inside that could form one of the most effective duos in the league.
Having a strong defence has become part of the Miami Dolphins’ identity over the past few years, and with a new offensive-minded head coach at the helm, the need to keep the defence strengthened will be necessary to help the offence have more opportunities to succeed in 2022.
The team already has a strong secondary unit on the books for next year, so providing further support to the unit in front of them can help facilitate improvements needed to get the team over the edge.
The Dolphins have plenty of cap room to work with this off-season and should be looking to spend a lot to improve a team that has not made the playoffs since 2016, and Hicks could certainly be a player that is worth a significant short-term investment in.