The Eagles and Patriots are in the Super Bowl because they have, among other things, really good players.
And really good players want to get paid really big bucks when free agency arrives.
For a bunch of them, that day is nearly here.
At least nine expected starters in Sunday’s big game are on track to become unrestricted free agents in March.
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Which makes them potential targets for Adam Gase, Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier.
The Dolphins are expected to shake up their roster after a 6-10 season, and, with the right moves, could have as much as $60 million in salary-cap space to attack free agency.
Some intriguing free agents will appear on sport’s grandest stage Sunday.
So between commercials and trips to the buffet, actually watch the game — and these players in particular. They could be coming to Miami very soon. (Hat tip to Rotoworld.com, whose handy free agent tracker is a must-bookmark.)
▪ LeGarrette Blount, Eagles: Jay Ajayi’s arrival might make Blount’s presence a redundancy going forward. Yes, Blount turns 32 next season, but he averaged 4.4 yards per carry this season and can be the Thunder to Kenyan Drake’s Lightning.
▪ Dion Lewis, Patriots: Second to only Le’Veon Bell on Rotoworld’s list of free-agent running backs, Lewis averaged five yards per carry in his first full season since his rookie year. Lewis, who will be 28 in September, should have plenty of tread left on his tires. He has carried the ball more than 20 times in a game just twice in his career.
▪ Danny Amendola, Patriots: Bobby McCain’s bane might become his teammate. Amendola, whose two late touchdown catches in the AFC Championship Game put the Patriots in the Super Bowl, should be an option if Jarvis Landry leaves via free agency. The Dolphins could sign him for a fraction of the price.
▪ Trey Burton, Eagles: Of all the would-be free agents, this one makes the most sense for the Dolphins. Burton is young (26) and opportunistic (five touchdowns on 30 targets in 2017). NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo said recently that he expects Burton to land a “significant deal” this offseason. Miami seems as good a place as any.
▪ Cameron Fleming, Patriots: Life is all about maximizing opportunities, and Fleming has done just that. After getting just $1.8 million as a restricted free agent last offseaason, he has flourished in his contract year, and might just be what the Dolphins need at right tackle — particularly if they rescind Ja’Wuan James’ fifth-year option.
▪ Nate Solder, Patriots: Tom Brady has not missed a game due to injury in a decade, but is in real danger of losing both of his bookends in 2018. Solder, named by Rotoworld this year’s best free agent tackle, would be the biggest blow. The left tackle only fits in Miami if the Dolphins move Laremy Tunsil back to guard.
▪ Nigel Bradham, Eagles: Haven’t heard of Bradham? You might soon. He’s the best off-ball 4-3 outside linebacker in this year’s free agent class, according to Rotoworld. He totaled 88 tackles and broke up eight passes in 2017.
▪ Dannell Ellerbe, Eagles: Nah, just kidding.
▪ Malcolm Butler, Patriots: The hero of Super Bowl 49 could be playing his last game with New England in Super Bowl 52. There will be a free agent market for this play-making cornerback, but perhaps not in Miami. His height (5-foot-11) is not a system fit.