With over $22 million this season, the Miami Dolphins are doing well compared to other teams and the salary cap situation. And since there is a lot of uncertainty about player availability this season, they can pick some of the best free agents on the market.
The Dolphins got into this situation by being smart about their finances, by not contracting veterans late in the season for a lot of money (LB Kyle Van Noy may be the only player who fits into this category, but his play justified his contract), and by being strict with their draft classes, focusing on focus groups to help a few rookies get contracts for more money.
Led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, this Miami team is looking to get back into the AFC, although a Wild Card spot is all they can get in the next few years. But if this season is to be a deciding factor in what the league will look like next year and beyond, the Dolphins need to address a few key areas.
Offensively, they need to find a second option next to receiver DeVante Parker to fill the void between Parker and Preston Williams, a proven center with Ted Carras in the offense, and a top running back since Myles Gaskin and Salvador Ahmed are not there yet.
On defense, the Dolphins need another defensive tackle to replace Raekwon Davis, another outside linebacker to replace Van Noy and catch Andrew Van Ginkel, and an inside linebacker to catch Jerome Baker.
While they have more money at their disposal than most teams, spending all that money doesn’t necessarily mean Miami will be a season-ready team. Since the salary cap can change slightly from year to year, here are two players the Dolphins should stay away from in Free Agency this season.
Staying away from aging receivers like A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald, T.J. Hilton, Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and DeSean Jackson should be one of the Dolphins’ main goals this offseason. And while each of these players should be on the list without being eligible for the team, it makes sense to focus on the green players.
Clearly, Green is leaving the Cincinnati Bengals after playing there his entire career. Declining health and production, combined with the emergence of Tyler Bodie and Tee Higgins, made Green’s role with the Orange and Black look more like an observer than an active participant.
Teams will have to ask themselves why it doesn’t make sense to contract Green this season, especially with all the question marks involved.
Green has appeared in 16 complete games five times in his 10-year career, and although he has recorded at least 47 catches in all but one season (2019, when he missed the entire season), his 47 catches on 104 targets is the lowest catch rate of his career. Some of that can certainly be attributed to Joe Burrow’s NFL acclimatization combined with the terrible injury replacement duo of Brandon Allen-Ryan Finely late in the season, but Green still hasn’t focused as much on offense, which is bad news for his sacks this offseason.
The Dolphins need a proven playmaker who can stay healthy and become an important part of the offense alongside Parker, Williams and TE Mike Gesicki, and Green is not an option. A slot player (someone like Curtis Samuel) or a fast player (like Will Fuller V) is the void Miami should be looking for this season, not a veteran fetus who has lost a step and needs to sell himself to teams this season by showing that his health is less of an issue than people think.
Signing A.J. Green would be a step backward for the Dolphins offense in 2021, as his target share requirements would interfere with an already established offensive scheme for other weapons. Green’s health will never be what it has been in his career. So if you overpay for a player who was once what you hope he is now, you are putting teams in trouble.
Jadeveon Clowney is in good form, but shouldn’t be wearing a green and white suit next season, it’s that simple.
Since 2018, Clowney has not shown the disruptive ability that made him a first-round pick of the Houston Texans in 2014. Injuries are starting to catch up with the South Carolina Gamecocks, to the point where playing 13 games should be considered a great season.
In his only season with the Tennessee Titans last year, Clowney only appeared in eight games and missed one, only being selected in Week 8. September signed. No sacks and only 19 tackles, and Clowney’s time of frustration with the Titans is over.
Like Green, paying players for their past teams puts them in a tough spot, something the Dolphins did not want to experience. After previous successes in this area, it would be a mistake to bring Clowney in, even if only for one year, on a contract with incentive conditions.
With defensive coordinator Josh Boyer leading a multi-functional scheme that counts Bill Belichick among his favorites (e.g. Double A Burst Pressure), it might be a bit much to ask Clowney to take on edge rusher responsibilities in addition to a role as outside linebacker, especially if the team expects to limit his work as a non-linebacker.
Additionally, his salary projection represents a lot of money for an injured player that the Dolphins could better use for other free agents or to extend the lives of key players.
Splash, just to say you have a big name on the team that is nowhere to be found in the NFL, and the Dolphins have done a good job of keeping up with the other teams in the league. While Green and Clowney could certainly help fill in the Dolphins’ weaknesses, they would be cheap, not 30 years old, and they would come on board with a serious injury history that should deter most teams.
If Miami wants to keep up its rebuilding plan and continue its climb to the AFC playoffs by staying away from these two players, it will do a lot for its chances in the postseason this season.
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