to fill Miami with at least a dozen jobs
Welcome to Day 3 of our free agency Dolphins blog.
The Dolphins’ deal with Tennessee free agent linebacker David Long was scheduled to become official after 4 p.m. today, as was their trade for Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Miami has met its four top priorities over the past 72 hours: 1) Finding a high-quality cornerback (Ramsey), 2) Starting an inside linebacker who’s adept against run and pass (Long), 3) No. 1 and No. 1 sign 2 running backs (Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson) and 4) add a backup quarterback (Mike White).
But at least a dozen veterans must join at some point in the coming days, weeks, or months. The Dolphins have at least $10 million in cap space, can clear more with contract extensions for Christian Wilkins and others, and will add $13.6 million to space on June 1 when Byron Jones comes off their books.
The dozen positions that are still to be filled:
▪ An experienced right tackle who can compete with Austin Jackson for the starting spot. It’s one thing for the Dolphins to give Jackson a chance to win the job; but not having a proven, competent right tackle under contract would be far too great a risk.
There are half a dozen options including Matt Feiler, who was cut by the Chargers on Tuesday. He has played well as a starter at right tackle (previously for Pittsburgh) and left guard (for the Chargers for the past two years). He worked with Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith at the Chargers in 2021.
Other options include incumbent Brandon Shell (who remains in the game) and Cameron Fleming (who played for new Dolphins offense coach Butch Barry at Denver last season).
Orlando Brown is the top right tackle on the market, but he sees himself as a left tackle (where he was a good starter) and is aiming for a big contract. So he’s not an option at this point.
▪ At least two other veteran linemen signed alongside right tackle to compete with Jackson. That means finding a backup center (re-signing Michael Deiter or someone else) and tackling at least one other veteran who could back Terron Armstead. Kendall Lamm, who played well in the Jan. 1 Patriots game before suffering an injury, remains a possibility.
Miami has signed seven linemen with NFL experience: Armstead, Connor Williams, Jackson, Liam Eichenberg, Robert Hunt, Rob Jones, and Lester Cotton (who started the playoff game).
▪ At least two narrow ends. Only two of the 42 free-agent tightends signed. All of the best remain available – including Dalton Schultz, Hayden Hurst, Mike Gesicki, Foster Moreau, Austin Hooper and Robert Tonyan. [Update: Cincinnati’s Hayden Hurst is signing with Carolina, per NFL Network].
Dallas has reportedly shown interest in Schultz, who wants a big contract.
A return from Gesicki, once inscrutable, cannot be completely ruled out if he cannot find a good deal on the open market.
Durham Smythe and Tanner Conner are the only bottlenecks under contract.
▪ At least one experienced receiver, probably two. This could be as simple as signing Trent Sherfield and/or River Cracraft, or finding a cheap option elsewhere.
▪ Two backup edge players. Andrew Van Ginkel has scheduled a visit and will likely be leaving. Melvin Ingram remains a possibility, but probably only if he’s willing to take less than the $5 million he made last season.
The Dolphins have told people they don’t have big bucks to spend on backup edge players behind Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips and Emmanuel Ogbah.
▪ A backup defense tackle. There was some contact with free agent John Jenkins, but he could end up elsewhere. This would likely be a low-money deal unless Vic Fangio decides he wants competition for Raekwon Davis.
▪ A long-serving security. This could either be a certified starter replacing Brandon Jones on the starting lineup or an experienced No. 3.
Bill’s free agent Jordan Poyer certainly remains a possibility.
▪ Another cornerback or two. Miami’s top three corners seem set (Xavien Howard, Jalen Ramsey and Kader Kohou), but the Dolphins need more depth than Keion Crossen and Noah Igbinoghene.
This could be as simple as signing Nik Needham (who could fight Kohou for the No. 3 job) and special teams ace Justin Bethel.
The Dolphins could fill two of those jobs with the 51st and 84th picks in the draft, but I’d be surprised if they don’t add veterans to all of those positions.
Check back for updates throughout the day.