Free agency starts on March 12. Are you ready?
With more than $45 million in salary cap space, the Dolphins are expected to be big players. Over the next week, we'll take you through what the Dolphins need, and who they might target. Wide receiver will be priority No. 1, but it's not the only hole on a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2008.
In part one of a nine-part series, we delve into the Dolphins top ten needs:
This was the Dolphins weakest position in 2012 and that was with Brian Hartline, whose contract soon expires. The Dolphins got just three touchdown catches from their wideouts last year or 11 fewer than Green Bays James Jones had by himself. Luckily for Miami, this is one of the deepest positions in free agency.
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh: His dynamic speed and big-play ability are exactly what the Dolphins lack. Greg Jennings, Green Bay: Familiarity with Joe Philbin and proven productivity are pluses. Age, recent injury history are minuses. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City: Norland graduate has averaged at least 12 yards per catch in all but one season.
First they traded Vontae Davis. Now the Dolphins risk losing both of their top picks in the 2009 draft if Sean Smith walks. The secondary needs help. There are some big names out there (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Aqib Talib, Nate Clements), but theyre all coming off poor years.
Chris Houston, Detroit: While undersized (5-11, 178), Houston surrendered just 3 TDs in 94 passes thrown his way. Brent Grimes, Atlanta: Former NFL Europe star-turned-Pro Bowler whos coming off a torn Achilles he suffered in the first game of the season. Leodis McKelvin, Buffalo: Hes the right age (27) and allowed just 9.5 yards per completion last year, 10th best in NFL.
Adam Jones, Cincinnati: The bad boy seems to have gotten his act together and would be intriguing in return game. Cary Williams, Baltimore: After a slow start to the season, Williams came on late. Picked off Tom Brady in the AFC title game.
Anthony Fasano led the Dolphins with five touchdown catches in 2012, but his 2.2 yards-after-catch average was third-worst among NFL tight ends. Fasano is an unrestricted free agent, Charles Clay is coming off injury and Michael Egnew has shown little to warrant his third-round draft status. Translation: Fresh blood needed.
Martellus Bennett, N.Y. Giants: Strong blocker in the run and pass game, Bennett also averaged 11.4 yards per catch in 2012. Dustin Keller, N.Y. Jets: Could the Dolphins get better and make the Jets worse? Red flag: Keller did miss half the season with injury. Jared Cook, Tennessee: Joe Philbin doesnt like attitude problems, but could make an exception for Cook (44 catches, 4 TDs a year ago).
What to do with Jake Long? The answer to that question will frame the teams entire offseason. The Dolphins have until Monday to place the franchise tag on Long, but assuming they dont, hell leave a giant hole on the left side if he signs elsewhere. Denvers Ryan Clady is the best of the class, but he has been franchised.
Sam Baker, Atlanta: Hes big (6-5). Hes strong (307 pounds). And he surrendered just nine quarterback hits in 1,204 snaps in 2012. Gosder Cherilus, Detroit: Plays the right side, but might be worth flipping Jonathan Martin to left. Per PFF, he is leagues eighth-best tackle. Branden Albert, Kansas City: The former first-round pick has battled a back injury, but strong in pass protection when healthy.