Barry Jackson

Dolphins expected to visit with Timmons, reach out on several young veterans

Miami Dolphins Mike Tannenbaum, vice president of football operations, and coach Adam Gase (left) and GM Chris Greer (right), talks to the media at a "season end" press conference at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida, Jan. 11, 2017.
Miami Dolphins Mike Tannenbaum, vice president of football operations, and coach Adam Gase (left) and GM Chris Greer (right), talks to the media at a "season end" press conference at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida, Jan. 11, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The Dolphins are expected to meet with Steelers free agent inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons and have begun expressing at least some level of interest in multiple veteran free agents.

Timmons, 30, had 114 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two interceptions for the Steelers last season. The expectation of a Timmons/Dolphins visit in the coming days was reported by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

I have confirmed there is mutual interest between the parties and there have been discussions this week. Free agent visits are permitted as early as after 4 p.m. Thursday.

Timmons has started every Steelers game in the past six years and all but four over the past eight years.

One common theme with several of the other free agents they’ve reached out to: They’re in their mid-20s, coming off their first contract, have both upside and starting experience but won’t necessarily cost a ton.

Prepared for the real possibility that Isa Abdul-Quddus won’t be able to play next season, the Dolphins have told people that safety is a priority and have expressed interest in the Cowboys’ J.J. Wilcox and New England’s Duron Harmon, among others.

Both of those players are free safeties who could complement strong safety Reshad Jones.

Wilcox has started 38 games in four years for the Cowboys, but only four last year, and has five career interceptions. Harmon also had four starts for the Patriots last season and has seven interceptions in four years.

There’s no assurance that Miami ultimately will sign one of these two players, and I presume there are other young safeties they’re considering. But they’ve shown interest in both.

• Even after signing Andre Branch, the Dolphins still would like to add at least two more defensive ends, with at least one or possibly more from a rich draft class.

One veteran free-agent end they’ve made one preliminary, exploratory call about: Alex Okafor, also a player coming off his rookie contract. The former All-American at Texas had no starts for Arizona last season but 25 the previous two and has 13.5 career sacks.

• Miami also is determined to add a defensive tackle who can share snaps with Jordan Phillips, while giving occasional rest to Ndamukong Suh.

They’ve shown some interest in Terrell McClain, 28, who had 40 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles in 15 starts for the Cowboys last season.

Another free agent defensive tackle that has some support internally: Lawrence Guy, who started 10 games for the Ravens last season. And I’m sure there are other d-tackles on their radar.

• Though Andre Branch injected energy to the Dolphins’ defense (which was critical in their turnaround) and had 5.5 sacks, here’s the concern: He ranked only 66th among edge rushers against the run, if you believe Pro Football Focus ratings.

The Dolphins so far passed on several free agents who rated much higher against the run, including Calais Campbell, Charles Johnson (re-signed with Carolina this week) and Jabaal Sheard.

• The Dolphins would like to find two reasonably priced guards and have by no means closed the door on bringing back Jermon Bushrod.

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