The draft is over.
Get ready for free agency!
Wait ... what?
Didn’t that already happen like six weeks ago?
But not for the Dolphins.
Yes, they added Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dwayne Allen, Eric Rowe and a few other low-key vets.
But Chris Grier barely cracked open Steve Ross’ wallet. Those were all value picks that had negligible (if any) impact on the team’s 2020 compensatory picks.
Perhaps he was holding back for May 9, when teams are free to sign anyone they want for whatever they want without jeopardizing valuable future assets. (The Dolphins can sign “street free agents,” or players who were cut before their contracts expired, at any time with no impact on their compensatory picks.)
Plus, the players still on the market are available for a reason. They are either over 30, coming off an injury or non-starters. Few if any will command big salaries.
In short, exactly the kind of low-risk, high-reward players the Dolphins have been stockpiling since New Year’s Day.
Will Grier be a player in two weeks?
He seems eager to.
“Yeah. We’re going to be aggressive to fill the roster as we feel fit,” Grier said Saturday. “Brian [Flores] and I have talked about that and we have all those — June 1, after June 1 cuts — and then we’ll look at all trade options throughout the spring and summer.”
So who’s out there?
Few stars. They signed big-money deals weeks ago.
But there are plenty of value buys still unemployed who can help the Dolphins immediately — and perhaps even start.
And with $37.9 million in cap space, third-most in football, funding won’t be an issue. Yes, the Dolphins want to get a long-term deal done with Xavien Howard and perhaps Laremy Tunsil, but neither contract would hamper their ability to be active in the coming weeks.
The only other 2019 financial commitment still pending: getting their draft class under contract. According to OverTheCap.com, the Dolphins’ rookie draft pool allocation is $5.7 million, but only $3.1 million would count against their cap as of Sunday.
The team’s three biggest remaining needs, at least on paper, are right tackle, defensive end/edge rusher and cornerback. Here’s a look at the best of what’s around, according to a list compiled by RotoWorld.
▪ Jermey Parnell: The Jaguars cleared $6 million in cap space by cutting the one-time Dolphin in March. He started 13 games at right tackle in 2018, but wasn’t great. Pro Football Focus ranked him 51st out of 80 tackles last year.
▪ Donald Penn: Saturday was Penn’s 36th birthday, so he doesn’t exactly fit into the Dolphins’ youth movement. But he could be appealing as a one-year bridge tackle, allowing them to draft one early in 2020.
▪ Jared Veldheer: Perhaps the best of the bunch — if he can stay healthy. Veldheer missed four games for the Broncos last year, battling a bone bruise. The nine-year pro would leadership to a young room; he has started 86 games in his career.
▪ Other names to watch: Joe Barksdale, Chris Clark, Mike Remmers, Jermon Bushrod.
▪ Ezekiel Ansah: If not for a dicey shoulder situation, Ansah would gotten paid this offseason. He has 48 sacks in six seasons and is under 30, but won’t be cleared to practice until August due to rehab from surgery. Ansah is exactly the type of distressed asset the Dolphins have targeted this offseason.
▪ Nick Perry: In 2018, Patrick Graham coached Perry and the rest of the Packers linebackers. Now, Graham is the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator and Perry — who had 18 sacks from 2016-2017 — needs a job. Another logical fit.
▪ Shane Ray: Will the Dolphins add another team’s discarded first-rounder? They saw value in Josh Rosen. Will they see the same in Ray, who has just 14 sacks in four NFL seasons?
▪ Others to watch: Derrick Morgan, Dion Jordan, William Hayes.
▪ Morris Claiborne: It’s a bit surprising that Claiborne is still available. He was reliable last year, logging over 1,000 snaps in 2018 and starting 30 out of 32 games for the Jets the last two years. Is he a No. 1 corner? No. But he would be a solid No. 2 or 3.
▪ Captain Munnerlyn: Ten seasons into his career, how much does Munnerlyn have left? Hard to say, but he would surely be a good low-cost addition to a secondary with no clear-cut starter opposite Xavien Howard.
▪ Davon House: Is he healthy again after missing nearly the entire 2018 season with a shoulder injury? If so, the Dolphins should pick up the phone.
▪ Others to watch: Brent Grimes, Marcus Williams, Jamar Taylor.