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  • Dolphins Sunday Buzz

    significant defensive changes


    The defense that the Dolphins thought would be a strength stands 27th in yards per game, 30th in rushing yards and 23rd in points allowed. And now they’re prepared to invest resources to fix it. A look at what the Dolphins are thinking defensively and their free agent options:

    ### The Dolphins believe they need to add two cornerbacks this offseason. And though they still believe Brent Grimes can still be an effective player at 32, and asking him to restructure his contract to reduce his $9.5 million cap number is a strong possibility (though nothing has been decided for sure). Miko Grimes’ comments about Ryan Tannehill will not affect the team’s decision on Grimes.

    Miami should be able to land one of the Draft’s high-end cornerbacks --- FSU’s Jalen Ramsey or UF’s Vernon Hargreaves --- if it chooses. And presuming Carolina will do what it takes to keep Josh Norman, the in-their-prime free agent corners who would warrant consideration for Miami include the Rams’ Trumaine Johnson (fifth among corners by Pro Football Focus), the Chiefs’ and former Dolphin Sean Smith (11th), the Rams’ Janoris Jenkins (23rd), Green Bay’s Casey Heyward (25th), the Giants’ Prince Amukamara (35th), the Titans’ Coty Sensabaugh (86th), Arizona’s Jerraud Powers (88th) and Dallas’ Morris Claiborne. (109th) Grimes, by the way, is rated 62nd and Brice McCain 64th.

    Claiborne, a competent player who hasn’t lived up to what’s expected of a sixth overall pick, is 26. So is Powers. The others are between 27 and 29.

    If Miami is willing to invest in an older corner, the Bengals’ Leon Hall (22nd by PFF) and Adam Jones (14th) warrant a look, as does Pittsburgh’s William Gay (40th).

    Of those corners excluding Norman, Overthecap.com estimates that Smith and Jenkins will be the most expensive, with deals averaging in the $8 million to $12 million range annually.

    ### Though Michael Thomas played well at times, the Dolphins would like to add another safety opposite Reshad Jones. Walt Aikens hasn’t developed as hoped. San Diego's Eric Weddle, an impending free agent, would welcome a Dolphins' offer, but he would be costly.

    ### Defensive end: Miami wants to keep Cam Wake, coming off an Achilles’ injury, and there’s a good chance they will look to restructure his deal off an Achilles’ injury, to lower his $9.8 million cap number. They also have interest in re-signing free agent Olivier Vernon, who was rated the NFL’s third-best edge defender, but economics will play a factor.

    The Dolphins haven’t decided how much to offer and with every player, there’s a ceiling with how high a team will go in the bidding. Using the $15 million franchise tag is another option.

    “I only get one shot [at free agency], so I’m not [doing] a hometown discount,” Vernon said. “I want to help bring [the Dolphins] back to something relevant” but if it doesn’t work out and “if it entails going somewhere else, then that’s what has to happen.”

    If Vernon should move on, the Dolphins can either gamble on drafting one of the four high-end defensive ends or try to sign one of a limited number of free agent starting defensive ends, a group that includes the Giants’ Jason Pierre Paul (one sack in seven games since his July fireworks accident; ranked 34th by PFF), Houston’s Jared Crick, Green Bay’s Mike Daniels, San Diego’s Kendall Reyes, Detroit’s Jason Jones and the Giants’ Robert Ayers (rated eighth by PFF).

    Of those, Vernon and Wake are better pass rushers than all of those players except Pierre Paul.

    If Miami shifts to a 3-4 defense, there are two other appealing free agent options that would warrant consideration: Denver teammates Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe, both 26. Wolfe is one of the NFL’s best run-defenders.

    Among free agents, we excluded Muhammad Wilkerson (the Jets figure to do what it takes to keep him) and Dallas’ Greg Hardy, whose domestic abuse history makes him toxic for most organizations.

    The Dolphins’ Derrick Shelby, an impending unrestricted free agent who’s rated the No. 22 edge defender by PFF, said having a chance to start will factor into his decision. Another team figures to offer more than Miami will. Miami hasn’t decided whether to keep Quinton Coples on a restructured deal and isn’t counting on suspended Dion Jordan.

    ### The Dolphins, who aren’t sure if they will run a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, want to add at least one starting linebacker and possibly two. They would like to upgrade over Kelvin Sheppard in the middle and haven’t made a decision whether to keep Koa Misi, who has a $4.3 million salary if he stays. The Dolphins save $3.7 million against the cap if Misi is cut.

    They will consider moving Misi back to the mike position if they can’t find an upgrade over Sheppard in free agency.

    That group of decent free-agent inside linebackers, which isn’t deep, is headlined by the Jets’ Demario Davis (a good player in his prime, at 26); Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson (33, but has had a very good year with two picks and two forced fumbles and is ranked seventh among all linebackers by Pro Football Focus), Indianapolis’ Jerrell Freeman (104 tackles; ranked fifth by PFF) and Denver’s Danny Trevathan (a will linebacker in Denver’s 3-4 defense; has 100 tackles, two picks; ranked sixth by PFF).

    There isn’t much beyond that among unrestricted free agent linebackers: Cincinnati’s Vincent Rey; Dallas’ Rolando McClain (suspended four games this year for violating NFL’s drug policy); the Giants’ Jasper Brinkley, Chicago’s Shea McClellin and a bunch of backups. Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith, a projected top-10 pick, also is a possibility.

    The draft’s top inside linebacker, Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith was a projected top 10 pick before sustaining a serious knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl.

    If the Dolphins move Misi back inside, they would explore free agents among Bruce Irvin, Courtney Upshaw and others.


    http://miamiherald.typepad.com/sports-buzz/


  • #2
    I don't disagree with this insight, I just think it is premature. Since we don't know who the HC or DC are going to be or even what scheme they will want to run, who is making these evaluations? Tannenbaum? There is a huge difference in DEs and LBs based on 3-4 vs 4--3. Some coaches like the bend but don't break philosophy while others are aggressive risk takers on defense. What type of players you need to be successful can't be determined until you know the coaches. Is this a sign that TBaum is going to dictate to the coaches their philosophies?

    Comment


    • #3
      If we move Grimes we save $6.5M on this years cap and have $3M in dead money. We also save $8.5M on next years cap and can re-spend the lost $3M in dead money from this year. That's a two year total of $18M to spend on a replacement. After seeing the FA CB's potentially available, I cannot imagine anyone not wanting one of the much younger guys with equal or better talent (with Grimes age) for the same money to take his place. Getting a pick is a bonus.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Phintim Menace View Post
        I don't disagree with this insight, I just think it is premature. Since we don't know who the HC or DC are going to be or even what scheme they will want to run, who is making these evaluations? Tannenbaum? There is a huge difference in DEs and LBs based on 3-4 vs 4--3. Some coaches like the bend but don't break philosophy while others are aggressive risk takers on defense. What type of players you need to be successful can't be determined until you know the coaches. Is this a sign that TBaum is going to dictate to the coaches their philosophies?
        Agreed but, Jackson is just reporting some stuff he is hearing and giving fans a run down on who is projected to be available. I thank him for that, as I did not know. I now see that there is a good group of potentially available CB's, nothing at LB, and nothing at DE in FA. For me, that makes a difference in what moves I would like to see the team make in keeping our own and the draft.

        Comment


        • Phintim Menace
          Phintim Menace commented
          Editing a comment
          Good point, we sometimes on here are so anxious to dump our mediocre players we don't consider if there is a true upgrade available.

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