Players to watch in Super Bowl LIII
Believe your ears and your eyes:
The days of the Miami Dolphins out-bidding everyone to win free agency truly are over.
For now, at least.
Defensive end Trey Flowers will sign a five-year contract with the Lions, ESPN first reported, meaning the best available player in this year’s class will not be coming to Miami.
Even though he plays a position the Dolphins desperately need upgraded.
And even though Brian Flores was his coach in New England and they won a Super Bowl together just last month.
So why didn’t Stephen Ross open up the vault to make it happen?
Simply check Chris Grier’s quotes from the day Flores was hired.
“The way I grew up there in New England, I’ve never been (wanting to) spend money — huge money — on a guy to come it, because to me, I’d rather have three really good players than one maybe great player who may or may not impact what you’re doing. I’d rather have three good players at positions that are going to help the team win.”
Flowers — projected to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $17 million annually as the best free agent in this class — costs as much as three solid players.
The Dolphins need more solid players. A lot more.
They know that great teams are not built in March, but in April.
And they would rather draft, develop and reward their own instead of overspending to land someone else’s.
Even if that player is as good as Flowers, who had 57 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks a year ago.
With Flowers off the board, the list of high-level edge defenders gets pretty lean. Expect teams in need to explore options like Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith (53 tackles, four sacks a year ago) and Ravens edge defender Za’Darius Smith (whose 8 1/2 sacks ranked 29th in football last year.
More free agency news
If Dwayne Allen makes sense as a 2019 Miami Dolphin, Phillip Dorsett does too.
So it’s no surprise, then, that the Dolphins have expressed preliminary interest in Dorsett, the Patriots’ speedy wide receiver and former Miami Hurricane. Dorsett, who won a Super Bowl with Flores, Chad O’Shea, Josh Boyer and Jerry Schuplinski last month, is set to hit free agency at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
And Miami is one of several possible destinations, according to a source.
Dorsett spent the past two seasons in New England after the Colts traded the one-time first-round pick to the Patriots in 2017.
Dorsett, who has caught 95 passes for 1,237 yards and six touchdowns in his four-year career, signing with the Dolphins would make sense on several levels.
First, he has a comfort level with several members of the Dolphins’ staff. Second, he would fill a need, with Danny Amendola gone (he agreed to a one-year contract with the Lions Monday) and DeVante Parker likely to follow.
Third, he’s young (26) and likely would not break the bank for the Dolphins to sign.
And finally, he would be coming home.
Dorsett is a Fort Lauderdale native who played his high school ball at St. Thomas Aquinas before committing to UM. The 5-10, 192-pound wideout caught 121 passes for 2,132 yards and 17 touchdowns in four seasons with the Hurricanes.
And while he has yet to flourish in the NFL, he has flashed in key moments. Dorsett was on the receiving end of Tom Brady’s only two postseason touchdown passes during the Patriots’ latest championship run.
Pending free agents cannot sign with any new team before 4 p.m. Wednesday, but their agents were allowed to begin discussing the parameters of a contract at noon Monday.
Those rules did not apply to Allen, who signed with the Dolphins over the weekend, because he was cut by the Patriots ahead of free agency.
Allen wants to be more than a tight end in Miami. He aims to be “an agent of change.”
And spend 10 minutes talking with him — as members of the South Florida media did Monday — and you actually believe he can do just that.
Allen signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Dolphins during the weekend.
And while Allen believes he can be an every-down player in Miami, his most pressing assignment seems to be getting the Dolphins’ young tight ends room in order.
When asked to list his strengths, on and off the field, Allen led off with this:
“Obviously, I would like to say that I’m a positive presence in the locker room. I definitely know how culture is developed and enforced on the players in the locker room. It’s set by the head coach and reinforced by the guys in the locker room. Hopefully I can be an agent of change in that respect.”
Before Allen, 29, signed with Miami, 26-year-old Nick O’Leary was the old man in the Dolphins’ tight end room. Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe are both entering their second seasons.
Allen didn’t know (or care) who was on the Dolphins’ roster before signing. Along with the money, the culture he expects Brian Flores to set was all the convincing he needed.
“My biggest thing is [making sure] the tight end corps is a reliable tight end corps that does its job day-in and day-out.”
The Patriots used Allen primarily as an in-line blocker the last two years, and his numbers reflected it.
He has caught 13 passes total since 2017 after catching 15 touchdown passes for the Colts the previous three.
“I don’t do the play-calling so I don’t have to explain that at all,” Allen said, when asked about his dip in production.
Allen believes that when a player signs on with a team, he should do what his coaches ask of him. But without Rob Gronkowski ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s clear Allen believes his role will grow in Miami.
“It’s my hope to go out there and prove that I can be an every-down player,” he added. “I think my time around the league has displayed my ability to do things really well.”