Free agency has not been an unmitigated disaster for the Dolphins despite three major losses

The Miami Dolphins have known for some time that Wilkins, Hunt, and Van Ginkel were going to leave as Miami could not match their gigantic contracts. Their leaving should not have come as a surprise to anyone.

Right guard Robert Hunt was one of the Big Three that agreed to terms with new teams on Monday. He joins Christian Wilkins and Andrew Van Ginkel as star players who left Miami for greener pastures around the league.
Right guard Robert Hunt was one of the Big Three that agreed to terms with new teams on Monday. He joins Christian Wilkins and Andrew Van Ginkel as star players who left Miami for greener pastures around the league. / Bryan Bennett/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

There is no reset going on in Miami. Stop panicking and let Chris Grier work and do his job.

Despite three major losses on Monday, the Dolphins are not going through a reset as many of my colleagues in the media are saying. There is no doubt that Christian Wilkins, Robert Hunt and Andrew Van Ginkel will be missed, but let's be honest, Miami did not win any division titles with them, so what did they really lose?

Miami lost one player, a key player albeit, from their high-octane offense. Hunt was a very good guard who was just coming into his own and was improving every season. Looking at the depth chart as it is now, who is to say that Robert Jones cannot come in and compete at right guard and become a very serviceable starter?

The Dolphins also have the power to use one of their draft picks on a guard, or they could shift new center Aaron Brewer over to left guard and draft Jackson Powers-Johnson from Oregon with the 21st selection of the first round. Miami could also draft a player like Javion Cohen from Miami, who has a fifth-round selection attached to his name in mock drafts, He can come in right away and play either guard position and would come cheap.

Miami will never spend $100 million on a guard, whether they have the cap space or not. It was just not in the cards. They tried to extend Hunt for the last two years and they could never reach a deal. Best wishes to Hunt, but Miami will win, with him or without him. He made his choice and the Dolphins have to pick themselves up and move on.

Losing Wilkins and Van Ginkel in the same off-season certainly leaves two gaping holes, but the money given to them was off the charts.

Wilkins cannot be replaced that easily, but Van Ginkel might have been replaced by Shaq Barrett from Tampa Bay, who signed on Tuesday. Barrett was cheaper and can be just as effective. Barrett signed a one-year deal for $9 million, per the Miami Herald, and has won two Super Bowls with Tampa Bay and Denver.

Look for Wilkins to possibly be spelled in free agency with the likes of Calais Campbell, who played at the University of Miami, William Gholston, or Arik Armstead. Armstead would be my choice as he was a street-free agent and would not affect the compensation picks that Miami will receive next season.

As the days go by and players have no contract, their price goes down and so does their cap number.

I have always respected Barrett's game and believe that he can come in as the third edge rusher to compliment Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips when they get healthy. Barrett, who has 59 sacks in nine seasons, will probably start in Chubb's spot while he is on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start the season.

Miami also cut Jerome Baker before free agency started. Barker was an affable player who was adored by the fans.

Well, start liking Jordyn Brooks, who is going to be his replacement and will start alongside David Long, Jr. Brooks was a first-round pick in 2020 and performed admirably for Seattle. He will step up his game with Miami's other defensive players, under new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver.

There is no comparison when you compare losing Brandon Jones who started six games last season to his replacement Jordan Poyer. Poyer, from Buffalo, has haunted Miami quarterbacks for years and it will be nice to root for him as opposed to against him. Poyer is a great safety who is more of a punishing defender than Jones ever was. He will pair nicely with Jevon Holland in the defensive backfield.

In 2023, Poyer had 100 tackles, four PBU's and one sack. He is clearly an upgrade over Brandon Jones or DeShon Elliott who is also an unrestricted free agent safety.

The Dolphins also lost Raekwon Davis who typically lined up at the nose guard position. He will need to be replaced along with Wilkins. Miami will have plenty of defensive tackle options in the rest of free agency or during the draft. Those are two big holes to fill, but they can do it under the constraints that they have set for themselves.

I also like the signing of center Aaron Brewer, from the Tennessee Titans. He will need to replace Connor Williams, who is not looking to sign until he is fully healed from an injury that he sustained late last season. Brewer comes cheaper than Williams would, he is not injured and he played every snap last season at the center position, but is versatile enough to play left guard or right guard.

That leaves the possibility open for Miami to resign Williams when and if he is healthy and shift Brewer to left guard, or to draft Johnson in the first round. Louis Riddick, a former NFL Personnel guy and ESPN Analyst, has stated that Williams' ACL is so badly torn that he might retire. Only time will tell how this will play out.

Miami also resigned its own restricted free agents in Elijah Campbell and Jones, and Salmon Ahmed and Nik Needham. According to sources, such as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, they are close to finalizing deals to bring back Braxton Berrios and River Cracraft.

The Dolphins still need to find a replacement for Xavien Howard and Emmanuel Ogbah who were both cap casualties. There are plenty of corners and defensive ends out there to pick from.

Let's also not forget that Miami signed Jonnu Smith for a bargain price and he might turn out to be better than his pay rate. The Dolphins have never had a tight end in the Mike McDaniel era that can catch and run like Smith can. He was a great pick-up as a street-free agent from Atlanta.

It is clear that the Dolphins are looking for bargains, but they are not going to a thrift store to shop. They are spending some money and getting quality in return. Most of their signings are plug-and-play, guys who can come in and start right away.

This will still be an exciting season and Miami can overtake the Bills for supremacy in the AFC East. They did not win anything with Wilkins, Hunt, or Van Ginkel. They should be able to win with the players that they do have.

feed