The first full week of free agency (including the negotiating period and virus-distancing period) was a busy time for the Miami Dolphins. Lots of stuff was done. Lots of talent was added.
Fine, so maybe we’re not done. The Dolphins might add another free agent or three before we’re actually done with free agency. And, of course, the team reserves the right to take swings should grand opportunities come along unexpectedly.
You will recall one such unexpected opportunity came along in 2008 when the Dolphins added quarterback Chad Pennington after he was unexpectedly cut by the New York Jets. And that went quite well for one season.
But after signing 10 new unrestricted free agents — including cornerback Byron Jones, who is making $40 million fully guaranteed in his first two seasons here, according to his agent, Alan Herman — the Dolphins have to slow down a little bit on free agency.
Jones’ salary cap number for 2020, for example, will be $14 million — the highest on the team. Fellow cornerback Xavien Howard comes in second at $13.325 million.
My colleague Barry Jackson used all his fingers and toes on Sunday and figured out the Dolphins have approximately $32 million in cap space at the moment. Spotrac, which does an excellent job, has the number at $34,666,394. And overthecap has the Dolphins at $39,980,472 in cap space. (Neither the Spotrac nor the overthecap figures include new linebacker Elandon Roberts’ contract.)
Me? Let’s agree the Dolphins have enough money to draft. Have enough for their practice squad. Have enough for injuries. Have enough to add someone if opportunities come along.
And if there’s an issue, Miami cap specialist Brandon Shore can create space. Not a problem this year after last year’s dead-money hell.
Despite the expenditure of approximately $250.8 million in new contracts and $150 million in guaranteed money tied up in this free agency period, however, the Dolphins are an incomplete team.
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I have been telling you for more than a month the Dolphins plan to draft an offensive tackle. I wouldn’t be surprised if the club adds two tackles in the draft or a tackle and a guard. They need both. Still.
I have been saying the Dolphins are going to draft a running back and lookie, lookie who I picked in a recent media mock draft near the end of the first round for Miami — by the way, you would love GM Mando’s three first-rounders wouldn’t you?
The team still needs to add inside help on the defensive line. Davon Godchaux is a good player, but he’s going to want to get paid soon and more help is needed inside.
The Dolphins have DeVante Parker (who has blocked me on Twitter LOL), Albert Wilson, Allen Hurns, and Isaiah Ford in the wide-receiver room, and they all are experienced. But the circumstances beg for the Dolphins to add wide-receiver help in this draft.
What are the circumstances?
Start with all four receivers mentioned two paragraphs above have significant injury histories.
Then consider this is the strongest wide receiver draft class to enter the NFL in recent history. There will be late second-round wide receivers who would ordinarily go in the first round in years past.
The value for a receiver late in the second round is expected to be strong, and hopefully the Dolphins will recognize that.
And all this sounds great right now because, yes, the Dolphins have needs but they have 14 draft picks to help fill those needs. So all set, right?
There’s a caveat. A biggie.
I reported weeks ago the Dolphins were interested in trading up to the No. 1 overall selection in the draft to select Joe Burrow. The details of that are here, and I suggest you read it because it’s original reporting rather than opinion from a pundit.
But the price of such a move would be hefty.
The price of such a move would eat away at Miami’s draft treasure as surely as these free agency signings have eaten away at Miami’s salary-cap space.
And that presents a dilemma.
The Dolphins can accept they’re not getting the best quarterback in the draft, pick a lesser prospect, and then surround that guy with more highly drafted players.
Or the Dolphins can put it all on getting Burrow and worry about left tackles and receivers and running backs and interior linemen some other day in 2021.
Obviously, that decision is seemingly made. The Dolphins are going to make the attempt at Burrow. So they must believe it’s worth it to give up multiple picks to try to get Burrow.
Me? I’m not there.
Burrow was very good in 2019. And he’s a very good quarterback prospect.
But he’s not Andrew Luck. He’s not John Elway. He’s not Peyton Manning.
He lit up the NCAA for one year and that was entertaining but he didn’t do it three years, or two years. He has a good arm. But not a great arm. Tell you the truth, the thing I like most about him is his confidence and lack of fear, which impress me more than his physical gifts.
So I don’t give up, say, three first-round picks — two this year and one next — for Burrow. I give up an extra first-rounder. But two?
I will draft another quarterback, thanks. Maybe two.