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A Look Ahead to Free Agency 2013

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How about that second win, Dolfans? I think some good things can and will happen this season, and by no means am giving up this shred of hope that the team has given me to cling to with their 2-3 start. Before we begin examining the upcoming free agents the Dolphins have the ability to sign, I have to say how ridiculous it feels and sounds to say that. How on earth am I clinging to hope from a 2-3 start? It’s a 2-3 start from a team that show’s marked improvement every game, and as I stated in my first article, the Dolphins are only a hairs breadth from at least a 4-1 record, and without a very critical subset of rookie (and Legedu) mistakes away from 5-0. The rookie mistakes have not been repeated. In last week’s loss, several career highs were established, along with a handful of records being reached and/or just missed. Tannehill to Hartline is becoming a thing of beauty, and so much of this team has given me reason for optimism that this ship can indeed be turned around.

The play of the team isn’t the only thing giving me reason for optimism, but some of the upcoming free agents that I think the Dolphins should go after to help complete the puzzle are as well. These guys are established players that for various reasons I think the Dolphins should target that will help them be in serious contention next season. All six of these players are still in the prime of their career, and I don’t believe one is in their thirties as of yet. For various reasons that we’ll explore, I believe the Dolphins have a shot at signing these players “on the cheap,” as some would say. No, I don’t have any inside sources that tell me this, just my intuition, and observations based upon what I have seen.

Below, I’ll describe my thoughts on the player, and further down I’ll provide player names. Without further adieu:

Running Back – There is a marquee name available in free agency, with the drawing power that Stephen Ross covets, who has been establishing himself as a feature back. A former top 10 pick, he has really been coming into his own the last few years and is a leader both on and off the field. This running back is a dual threat out of the backfield, as he can run the ball and has good enough hands and speed to line up at wide receiver and is explosive in space.

Wide Receiver – There is a fairly “inexpensive” wide receiver in free agency this coming offseason that I think the Dolphins could have a legitimate shot at pulling in inexpensively. This player has really started to come into his own, and while it isn’t sustainable, is leading the NFL in receiving yardage through week 5, and has established himself as a favorite target though he is not flashy, and definitely doesn’t qualify as a “diva recievah” – a highly sought after quality, in my opinion.

Defensive Tackle – A solid former pro bowler comes available this offseason, and again, while not a flashy pick (can you sense a theme to this?) he puts up solid, respectable numbers. He’s versatile enough to play either defensive tackle or defensive end while excelling at both positions, and plays both the run and the pass effectively.

Tight End – This player is more of a blocking tight end who, while not fast, is a reliable target in the passing game. He gets open, and gives 110% on every play and seems to be playing with a resurgence. He’ll fight for every yard possible when he has the ball, and is an effective blocker in both the running and passing game.

Cornerback – The ‘Fins need to target this guy. A tall lanky defensive back coming into the prime of his career, he has already established himself shutting down or limiting some of the top receivers in the league this season through week 5. He is developing a nose for the ball, which is impressive as his coverage skills are starting to limit the number of passes thrown to his side of the field.

Offensive Tackle – Another former top 10 pick, this player has established himself as one of the premier offensive tackles in the NFL. While he has struggled at times this season with speed rushers after coming off a knee injury in the pre-season, he’s a player that could help solidify any offensive line in the NFL.

So, I’m sure many of you have figured it out by now… the players I’m referring to above are all in-house talent with the Dolphins that I would implore Jeff Ireland to find a way to re-sign as they are critical to the success and development of this team and deserve to be here to see the groundwork that they have helped lay out come to fruition. The players I’m referring to are Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline, Randy Starks, Anthony Fasano, Sean Smith and Jake Long. There are other players scheduled to be free agents this offseason from the Dolphins, but these six players are the most critical to re-sign if at all feasible.

There are other free agent pick-ups that I’m sure we’ll all fall in lust with over the coming months (can anyone deny the salivating that would occur in seeing a one-two punch of Reggie Bush and Steven Jackson out of the backfield?), but many of those free agents are an unrealistic expectation for the Dolphins to pursue unless the team can obtain them at a price that isn’t detrimental to the team’s ability to fill its roster with quality players while retaining their own high quality free agents.

I don’t know about you, ‘Fins fans, but I say let’s keep our boys home where they belong.

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