As the Dolphins make a hard push to sign Detroit Lions free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, they also were busy on other fronts Saturday, exploring the market for defensive backs, making plans to move on from two former starting linebackers and re-signing two backups.
Miami’s priority remains signing Suh, who reportedly is also drawing interest from the Lions, Chargers and Jaguars, among others.
Several agents and league executives are operating under the impression that the Dolphins are the front-runners for Suh, or that he will sign with Miami, but there was no indication from the Suh camp that he has made a decision, and the Detroit News reported Saturday the Lions remain in contention.
Beyond the Suh pursuit, the Dolphins also are exploring the cornerback market. Miami inquired about a few veteran free agents starters, including New Orleans’ Patrick Robinson. They expressed interest in Kareem Jackson before he decided to re-sign with Houston on Saturday.
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Robinson, who attended South Miami High and Miami Gulliver Prep, was the 32nd pick of the 2010 NFL Draft out of FSU and has nine interceptions in five seasons with the Saints, including two in 2014, when he appeared in 14 games and started six. He has 33 career starts.
The Dolphins would like to re-sign slot cornerback/safety Jimmy Wilson but face formidable competition from several teams.
The Dolphins have several other cornerbacks on their radar, including Atlanta’s Robert McClain and San Diego’s Shareece Wright, among others. Byron Maxwell, Buster Skrine and Antonio Cromartie assuredly warrant consideration. The Dolphins inquired about Brandon Flowers, but he reportedly is close to re-signing with San Diego.
The Dolphins have interest in re-signing safety Louis Delmas because they liked how Delmas played alongside Reshad Jones before Delmas’ season-ending knee injury in the 13th game.
But with Delmas coming off an ACL injury, Miami inquired about a few other free agent safeties, including Buffalo starter Da’Norris Searcy, who had three interceptions in 2014. Kansas City starter Ron Parker is another safety on Miami’s radar.
Saturday was the first day that teams were allowed to speak to the agents of free agents from other teams. But teams cannot make formal offers, or meet or sign those outside free agents before 4p.m. Tuesday.
The Dolphins are expected to officially part ways with linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler in the next few days. Wheeler will be designated as a post-June 1 cut, meaning the team will save $3 million against the salary cap.
Wheeler started 16 games for the Dolphins in 2013 but just four last season. The Dolphins have explored a trade for Ellerbe (his $8.4million salary next season would be a deterrent) and plan to trade or release him. That would save at least $5.7million against the cap.
▪ Buffalo reportedly expressed interest in Dolphins tight end Charles Clay. Because the Dolphins placed the transition tag on him, they have the right to match any offer.
▪ The Dolphins re-signed defensive tackle A.J. Francis, who missed last season with a knee injury, and safety Jordan Kovacs.
▪ As of Saturday afternoon, the Dolphins had not informed defensive tackle Randy Starks of their intentions with him. He has a $6 million cap hit if he’s on the team in 2015, $1 million if he’s not. His future might hinge on whether Miami lands Suh.