NFL News & Analysis

2017 Free Agency Preview: Miami Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 6: Defensive End Andre Branch #50 of the Miami Dolphins makes a stop against the New York Jets on November 6, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Jets 27-23. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on Feb. 24, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]

What you need to know

Fresh off their first postseason appearance since 2008, the Dolphins will look to build on their success of a year ago, but will need to address both their offensive and defensive lines in the trenches to make that possible. Luckily for them, the free agent/draft pool at the positions of need is looking strong and they should have every opportunity to improve their roster.

Salary cap room

$41,050,292 (12th in NFL; as of 3/6/17)

Biggest needs

  • Guard
  • Linebacker
  • Defensive line
  • Tight end

Notable free agents

  • Kenny Stills, WR, 74.5 overall grade in 2016
  • Andre Branch, Edge, 56.4
  • Dion Sims, TE, 59.3
  • Michael Thomas, S, 56.1

Must re-sign

Andre Branch, Edge, 56.4 overall grade in 2016

While the team has openly expressed bringing back WR Kenny Stills, the market for his services will most likely prove to be too much for Miami. Branch ranked second on the team in quarterback sacks (7) and third in quarterback hurries (32). Still only 27 years old, Branch is in the prime of his career and it makes sense for a team needing edge rushers to bring him back in 2017.

Dream splash

Dont'a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots, 85.7

Signing Hightower would not only significantly improve the Miami Dolphins’ defensive unit; they would also be taking him from their biggest divisional threat, which of course is the New England Patriots. Hightower is one of the league’s most versatile linebackers, highlighted by his 76.4 pass rushing grade in 2016, good for second best at the position.

Top 2017 free agency prospcets

T.J. Lang, G, Green Bay Packers, 87.0

There is no bigger hole on the Dolphins’ roster right now than guard, where are tasked with finding two starters for 2017. The 29-year-old Lang, who has graded out at 86.6 or better in each of the last three seasons, would immediately step in and solidify one of the spots in the trenches.

Zach Brown, LB, Buffalo Bills, 84.1

Kiko Alonso provided the Dolphins with some much-needed stability at linebacker in 2016, but the team still desperately needs another force in the middle. Brown ranked sixth of all inside linebackers with 107 solo tackles and also graded out well in pass coverage in 2016.

Jared Odrick, DL, Jacksonville Jaguars, 44.2

Odrick was a major disappointment in his two seasons for the Jaguars, so the team decided to move on and release him. A return to the team that drafted him, the Miami Dolphins, makes a lot of sense for both sides; the Dolphins need defensive linemen and Odrick had some terrific seasons in Miami, most notably 2013 (82.4) and 2014 (82.2).

2017 Free Agency Rankings
Top 50 free agents
Every 2017 free agent ranked by 2016 overall grade
10 free agents who can make an immediate impact
10 veteran free agents worth a one-year contract
10 sleeper free agents who could bring surprise upside
10 splash free-agent signings we’d like to see
Quarterback rankings
Running back rankings
Wide receiver rankings
Tight end rankings
Offensive linemen rankings
Edge defender rankings
Interior defender rankings
Cornerback rankings
Safety rankings
Linebacker rankings

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