The first piece of the new puzzle for the Miami Dolphins was placed this past week when the team traded a late round draft pick this year to the Jacksonville Jaguars for tight end Julius Thomas. The move reunited Thomas with Adam Gase, the Miami head coach who served as offensive coordinator in Denver when Thomas was catching footballs from Peyton Manning.
The transaction also helped solidify a position the needed need to fortify and could have looked at OJ Howard of Alabama in the first round in April.
According to John Buhler of Fansided, Gase looks to be the real deal as a young head coach. He has two great men in his front office in general manager Chris Grier and executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum. Gase even seems to have great working relationship with owner Stephen Ross.
The Dolphins, despite the fact the team made the playoffs in Gase’s first season in Miami, have holes to fill, but may not be looking at a long-term solution with the players they acquire in free agency. The team wanted to release tackle Branden Albert, but instead worked another deal with Jacksonville that one consummated, will send the two-time Pro Bowler to the Jaguars for a late-round draft pick in 2018.
Laremy Tunsil, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, will fill the spot on a full-time basis.
This team is on the rise, but the pursuit of free agents may only yield a marginal return. Still, fans can hope the team makes a run at players who will help this team move farther than the first round of the AFC playoffs. Here are five players the team should consider once free agency begins.
Calais Campbell, Defensive End – Talk about irony. The thought of the tall, angular pass rusher running down opposing quarterbacks in teal and orange should excite Dolphins fans. The opposing thought is Miami fans dislike Campbell for ending quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s season and damaged the team’s run in the playoffs. Matt Moore came in for Tannehill the rest of the year and did just fine, but Tannehill might have been good enough to upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card round.
If Campbell is the Dolphins’ major free agent grab, it may come at a big price. The former University of Miami star will not come cheap.
Jared Odrick, Defensive Lineman – Odrick left Miami two seasons ago in free agency to sign a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Somehow, I think the Miami Dolphins make the call to see if he is interested in returning to the team that drafted him.
Odrick is an odd cat, to say the least. Rumor in Jacksonville has he rubbed some of the team the wrong way for his thoughts on life away from the NFL. He was called while on vacation and told he was released by Jacksonville, which did not seem to bother him. His versatility, being able to play inside at tackle or on the outside as a push end, will help him land a job somewhere this offseason.
Trumaine Johnson, Defensive Back – The Dolphins may take a swing at a defensive back or two in free agency. Johnson might be at the top of this list. In 2016, the Los Angeles Rams franchise tagged Johnson for $13.2 million. The Rams may have really liked Johnson, but they will have a new coaching staff in 2017. The Rams may look to sign him again given Wade Phillips is the team’s defensive coordinator. If he hits the open market, Miami could be first in line to offer him a new deal. An immediate upgrade in Miami.
Robert Woods, Wide Receiver – The Miami Dolphins are going to work immediately to re-sign Kenny Stills to a new deal. The wide receiver was a touchdown machine last season in Miami. He figures to be a target of many teams. Miami should open the Brinks truck to keep him in the Dolphins’ offense. If not, Woods should be a solid choice to join the passing attack.
Woods came into his own in Buffalo and could be a nice complement to Jarvis Landry. I cannot see Hills getting the franchise tag, which would cost the team $15.7 million for such a move. The fifth-year wideout out of Oklahoma is very likely to quadruple or even quintuple his NFL salary in this free agency cycle.
Lawrence Timmons, Linebacker – This is a hunch and could be a short-term solution for the Miami Dolphins. A first-round pick in 2007 the inside linebacker led the Steelers in tackles each of the past four seasons. He totaled 114 tackles, 2.5 sacks, five passes defended, a pair of interceptions, and a forced fumble in 2016. If Kiko Alonzo signs with another team, despite the fact he is a restricted free agent, Timmons may be a suitable replacement. The only problem I see with this is his age and the fact it would be a short-term deal.
The Steelers linebacking corps could allow for him to walk, which would allow the former FSU star to travel back to Florida.