3 free agents the Miami Dolphins were wise to avoid

Miami spent some money this offseason, but at least it wasn't on these guys.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Detroit Lions
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2. Grover Stewart, DT, Indianapolis Colts

Deal: Three-years, $39 million

This isn't that dissimilar to the Hunt-Jackson stuff – even Stewart at $40 million would have been a deal considering the contract that Wilkins got the Raiders to offer him.

Stewart had a good season with the Colts last year: he ended the year with the highest run stop grade (PFF) of his career, and his missed tackle percentage was the lowest it's been since 2020.

He did only play 11 games last year, but that's not as concerning as it normally would be considering that he's played in at least 15 games in every other season of his career, and appeared in every game over the 2021-2022 seasons.

But Stewart will turn 31 next season, and frankly, the Dolphins don't really need a 31-year old defensive lineman, regardless of how good he may be: not only are both of their current defensive lineman younger than 29, but both Jaelan Phillips and Zach Sieler ended 2023 ranked among the top 40 at their position.

Assuming either one of them will immediately step up and produce like Wilkins did is a big ask, but the team was uniquely positioned to lose a star like him and probably be fine.

3. Azeez Al-Shaair, LB, Houston Texans

Deal: Three-years, $34 million

It was a good year to be DeMeco Ryan's guy. Houston threw a bunch of their considerable draft capital at overhauling their defensive front, bringing in guys like Al-Shaair, Danielle Hunter, and Denico Autry. Gotta do something to replace Jonathan Greenard!

Al-Shaair had a good season with the Titans last year, but it's hard to feel like it wasn't an outlier of sorts: through his five-year career, his PFF grades are all over the place, and he's only ever really been a run-stopping linebacker.

For whatever it's worth, the Dolphins already have a handful of elite run-stopping linebackers on their roster: David Long Jr was the best run-stopper on the entire defense, according to PFF, while Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb, Duke Riley, and Shaq Barrett all finished the year with above-average run-stop grades.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to think that the Dolphins could use another linebacker, but the decision to avoid throwing a bunch of money at Al-Shaair after the season he had may age nicely.