Dolphins approach free agency with ample cash, judicious aggression

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The Miami Dolphins have the biggest pot in the 2020 NFL free-agency pool, and they are getting ready to make a dramatic overhaul of their roster.

After safety Reshad Jones and center Daniel Kilgore are officially released at the start of the 2020 league year Wednesday, the Dolphins will have approximately $95 million in salary-cap space, with the ability to top $100 million.

But don't expect Miami to go on a big-fish shopping sweepstakes. Even with the NFL's most cap space, the Dolphins are approaching free agency with selective aggression.

"Everyone thinks we've got all of this money to spend and blow. We're going to be judicious and responsible with our salary cap," Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. "It's not, 'We've got $100 million and we're going to spend all of it.' That's just not how it works."

Top priorities for the Dolphins in 2019 were to clean up their salary cap and collect assets. They have done both, but they are planning to avoid reckless spending and falling back into a similar situation.

"We're going to try to bring in a lot of players here -- good players here -- and keep building the roster," general manager Chris Grier said. "We'll be very smart in how we do it.”

With that being said, let's take a look at how Miami could approach free agency:


The Dolphins finished in the bottom 10 in total defense, run defense and passing defense in 2019. The help-wanted sign is on and flickering bright red.

Looking for who could be Miami's biggest free-agency splash? Take a gander at Titans cornerback Logan Ryan.

Flores is a big fan of Ryan, whom he coached in New England from 2013 through 2016. Ryan is intelligent, versatile and would become one of the defense's top leaders. He would also be a good fit as a strong No. 2 cornerback opposite Xavien Howard. It's a pairing that makes a ton of sense.

The biggest defensive hole is at edge rusher, where the Dolphins need two starters and more depth. Miami finished last in sacks (23) in 2019.

The team is likely to sign at least one pass-rusher, but the most likely option is for it to shop in the mid-tier market for one or two potential starters while looking for more help in the draft.

The Dolphins are expected to have interest in the Titans' Kamalei Correa and Patriots' Kyle Van Noy, sources told ESPN. Two other edge rushers mentioned in league circles as possible targets for the Dolphins are Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson and Giants outside linebacker Markus Golden.

One other position the Dolphins could pursue in free agency is nose tackle. Miami doesn't have a true run-stuffer on its roster, and the draft is considered to be weak in that position group. New England's Danny Shelton, Cincinnati's Andrew Billings and Detroit's A'Shawn Robinson are all players Miami could pursue to fill the role.


With the Dolphins focused on selecting a quarterback in the 2020 draft, the next-biggest offensive need is the offensive line.

The Dolphins' decision not to pick up Kilgore's 2020 team option opens up yet another hole. Miami could end up with as many as four new starters once the 2020 season begins.

The free-agency market should boast more plentiful options at interior offensive line than offensive tackle, which could dictate which route Miami pursues more aggressively.

Detroit's Graham Glasgow, New England's Ted Karras and Denver's Connor McGovern are among the versatile center/guard options Miami is expected to show interest in as upgrades to fill Kilgore's center spot or one of the vacant guard positions.

Raiders guard Gabe Jackson, 28, is another option who is reportedly on the trade block. He has three non-guaranteed seasons left on his contract at $9.6 million each. Dolphins senior personnel executive Reggie McKenzie drafted Jackson when he was with the Raiders, and he could rekindle the relationship while filling a starting spot for Miami.

The Dolphins would need to win a bidding war to land tackle Jack Conklin, who multiple league executives believe will challenge Lane Johnson as the NFL's highest-paid offensive tackle ($18 million per year) with his next deal.

A more manageable option fiscally could be New York Jets tackle Kelvin Beachum. Dolphins offensive line coach Steve Marshall coached Beachum in 2017. Beachim has started for the Jets for the past three seasons and could provide a starting option at a reasonable price.

The Dolphins likely will pursue a veteran running back, even though they are expected to add another early in the draft. Miami is expected to check in on Melvin Gordon's price, and he would have some interest in the Dolphins at the right price, sources told ESPN. But they could be in the market for a less expensive option such as Carlos Hyde, Lamar Miller or Jordan Howard. Beyond that trio, Frank Gore would be open to a reunion if the Dolphins show interest.