With the 2018 NFL Draft upcoming in a week, we breakdown the Miami Dolphins free agency acquisitions by position.
The Dolphins signed Brock Osweiler to an undisclosed contract. Osweiler who was traded to the Browns by the Texans last year on draft day, never suited up for the Browns during the season, but headed back to Denver with mixed results. While this signing drew the ire of several Dolfans, the move makes sense as head coach Adam Gase worked with Osweiler while as an assistant in Denver and frankly offers a chance for Osweiler to compete for the back up role. Unclear is how the Dolphins view Osweiler should they draft a quarterback. To me, Osweiler had his biggest season as he led the Broncos to the playoffs-spelling a broken down and essentially benched Peyton Manning for a time and earning a huge win-for home field advantage versus the New England Patriots in 2015. While Osweiler chased big money in Houston, he was later discarded for draft picks and ended up getting some playing time in Denver due to the uncertainty of the quarterback position. In addition David Fales was brought back to compete for a backup job. Fales has earned Adam Gase’s trust so it should be interesting who stays and who goes if the Dolphins draft a QB next week.
Running back: The Dolphins signed veteran running back Frank Gore. Gore returns to his roots in South Florida as he played football and attended Coral Gables High and played football at the University of Miami. What makes this move interesting is that Gase acquires a guy who still has some gas in the tank as a running back, but also can be a veteran leader for the running back room, something that hasn’t been present in the Gase era. While Gore brings an intensity on the field, as he has said, he will show Kenyan Drake how to be a “real pro” off the field. More importantly, the Dolphins feel that Gore has one good year left in him and getting that extra yard for the offense could be Gore’s strength in a nice one-two punch with Kenyan Drake.
Wide Receiver: The Dolphins brought in both Albert Wilson (Kansas City) and Danny Amendola (New England). After sending Jarvis Landry to the Browns via trade, the Dolphins have chosen to add two potential slot receivers with speed. First on Wilson-he spent most of his time in the shadows of Tyreke Hill, but Wilson burned the Dolphins secondary in their late season meeting and quite frankly brings an element that is critical for a slot receiver-speed. Wilson ran a 4.3 at the combine, but he could be a key cog in the Dolphins offensive attack and could make things rather exciting on game days. I believe Gase went for a true game-changing threat and was perhaps even more impressed at his ability to get open and run routes. As for Amendola being available, this was kind of a key bonus to Dolfans, but in reality the Dolphins now have a short yardage threat and a red zone weapon. Amendola has plenty left for the rest of the AFC and NFL opponents and is on the same page as Adam Gase and this offense. While the Dolphins paid a premium for his services to the tune of 6 million dollars, it shouldn’t hurt their cap standing in the the next few years. The Dolphins replaced one (Landry) with two proven and talented receivers-less the cost of Landry. Plus adding both Wilson and Amendola to the wide receiver corps of DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Jakeem Grant, and Leonte Carroo-the Dolphins have the depth needed for 16 games and beyond.
Tight end: While the Dolphins didn’t sign a new player at the position and they sent away Julius Thomas, they acquired AJ Derby late in the season. Derby has shown some toughness in goal line situations as well as in the passing game. However, this draft is full of tight ends, so I’d expect the Dolphins to address the position.
Center: The Dolphins didn’t sign a new Center as they traded a 7th round pick for Andrew Kilgore of the 49ers. Kilgore brings experience and since he was signed to a new deal back in February, the Dolphins have him locked up for a few years. Surely Mike Pouncey’s intensity will be missed, but not his lack of durability.
Guard: Josh Sitton was brought in to play left guard and be a mentor for Laremy Tunsil. The Dolphins I believe struck gold with this move because guard was a huge need as Isaac Asiata wasn’t clearly game-ready for the NFL and the Dolphins went with a hodge-podge of different players.
Tackle: While it wasn’t a free agent acquisition, the Dolphins stayed the course and brought back Ja’Juan James as their starting right tackle. As James was placed on IR at midseason, it was imperative that the Dolphins shored up the position and are ready to roll with James for the next few seasons. James if anything was one of the key acquisitions from the Hickey-Philbin era that has worked out.
Defensive End: The Robert Quinn acquisition in a trade was by far the biggest offseason splash. The Dolphins added a savvy and capable veteran who gives the Dolphins some length and flexibility and can in plain language-get after the quarter back. While Quinn had 9.5 sacks last season-he dipped in his number of sacks due to a position switch from end to linebacker in Wade Phillips 3-4 defense. The fact that Quinn is in the defensive line room takes the pressure off of veteran leader-Cam Wake and brings another threat that teams will have to scheme for. While the cost of a 4th round pick was steep, getting a player of Quinn’s caliber was nothing short of brilliant between Gase, Grier, and Tannenbaum.
Of course come draft day next week, the Dolphins could pivot slightly from the same mantra that seems to dog the fans intelligence-that Ryan Tannehill is the Dolphins starting quarterback.
We shall see what’s next for the Dolphins, but know this-they will address holes in their roster during this year’s draft and getting a QB might satisfy their most glaring need.
Photo credit: Palm Beach Post