The Miami Dolphins were quiet on the first day of the 2021 “legal tampering” period, but that were not sitting around watching the rest of the league – and by “rest of the league” we mean the soon-to-be-crowned offseason champion New England Patriots – add players. Miami is playing the long game this year, looking to find the right pieces at the right price, rather than throwing around big dollars for one or two big names. They want to come away from the free agency period with solid players filling key holes, not just one giant splash that eats up all the salary cap space for this season.
While the Patriots are closing in on the record for the most guaranteed money given during one free agency period – and we are not even actually to free agency yet – by adding offensive tackle Trent Brown, tight end Jonnu Smith, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, linebacker Matthew Judon, cornerback Jalen Mills, wide receiver Nelson Agholor, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, defensive tackle Henry Anderson, and tight end Hunter Henry, the Dolphins re-signed linebacker Vince Biegel, signed punter Michael Palardy, and added special teamer/fullback/tight end Cethan Carter. It has left fans clamoring for the Dolphins to do something.
Though, honestly at this point, we should probably be getting used to not a lot of leaks coming from South Florida. The front office and coaching staff do a really good job of keeping things quiet.
What do the Dolphins need to do as the legal tampering period moves into its second day and the actual start of the free agency period is just over 24 hours from now? The top areas where fans and analysts believe the Dolphins are looking are the wide receiver group and edge rusher. The receivers could be where Miami makes a splash signing if they are going to make one this year, with names like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Curtis Samiel, Kenny Golladay, and Will Fuller still available. The Dolphins are considered a favorite to land at least one of those players, and it would make sense to get a deal done today after letting yesterday prove the receiver market is not as robust as players and agents maybe hoped.
Most of the top edge rushers came to agreements on Monday, but there are a couple of names worth watching for the Dolphins. Could they finally land Jadeveon Clowney after being linked to him multiple times the last few years? Is Carlos Dunlap or Haason Reddick an option in Miami?
The team also needs to find a backup quarterback and, likely, a linebacker to add to the roster. With Ryan Fitzpatrick agreeing to terms on a one-year, $10 million contract with the Washington Football Team on Monday night, it would make sense for Miami to add a veteran behind second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Adding a player like Alex Smith or Tyrod Taylor would give Miami an mentor to the young quarterback while also giving the team someone who, should Tagovailoa be injured in 2021, can immediately come in and start.
The other big area Miami is likely to address this offseason is a starting running back. There are some available targets, with James Conner, Marlon Mack, and Keynan Drake the most likely possibilities, but it feels more like the Dolphins will turn to the Draft for either a “feature” back or someone who can add to a rotation with Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.
The Dolphins have a lot of needs to fill this offseason, so they will get busy here in free agency soon. Just do not take the lack of news early as a sign that the team is not doing anything. They are playing a smart game this offseason and it should pay off for them in the long run.