The Miami Dolphins have a lot of work to do to upgrade a defense that was simply not playoff-caliber in 2017 and as the beginning of the NFL’s unrestricted free agency period, the team began the assignment.
The team today was trying to set up visits with three free agents on the defensive side of the ball -- linebackers Zach Brown and Lawrence Timmons, and defensive end Jabaal Sheard.
All three players come from AFC rivals with Brown having played in Buffalo, Timmons in Pittsburgh and Sheard with the New England Patriots.
It is likely the first of those visits will begin Friday.
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The Dolphins also will be looking to add a free safety to team alongside Reshad Jones.
Jones, by the way, is a very happy guy today after agreeing to a four-year contract extension worth $60 million with $35 million guaranteed money.
The Dolphins released safety Isa Abdul-Quddus when it became clear to them he would not be able to contribute to any significant degree in 2017 after he suffered a shoulder and neck injury toward the end of 2016. Abdul-Quddus came in free agency last offseason.
The desire to upgrade at middle linebacker likely means Kiko Alonso will be moving to weakside linebacker in 2017 if the Dolphins can land either of its targets. The Dolphins are currently in negotiations to actually give Alonso a long-term contract.
The Dolphins like Sheard because ...
A. He’s been a solid if unspectacular pass rusher with 36 career sacks in six NFL seasons. The Dolphins want to add another defensive end piece (or two) in free agency or the draft after agreeing to terms with Andre Branch on Thursday evening.
B. He detracts from the Patriots. Although Sheard has fallen out of favor in New England after collecting eight sacks with the team in 2016, he remains a suitable situational pass rusher who can play with either his hand in the dirt or from a two-point stance.
Sheard, by the way, was born in Fort Lauderdale.
In that regard the Dolphins are trying to tap the local market on multiple fronts. The team has agreed to terms with tight end Anthony Fasano to replace departing Dion Sims. Fasano, an in line, blocking-type tight end, lives in Fort Lauderdale.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero