We dare you to watch the latest Jalen Ramsey hype video and not get excited about the Miami Dolphins. This is a roster that matches the glitz and glamor personality of its city. But is it a roster ready to finally compete for championships? We explore that and more as we hand out the Dolphins’ free agency grade.
Overall Miami Dolphins Free Agency Grade
Two weeks ago, the Dolphins had fewer than 50 players under contract — including zero running backs — and significant questions on defense. Now, they have a full roster and then some — and with more than $20 million in salary cap space to add to it post-June 1.
Miami has arguably the best cornerback duo in football, a top-10 quarterback under contract through 2024, a stable of running backs fluent in Mike McDaniel’s scheme, and the look of a team ready to take the next step.
The Dolphins this month added Ramsey; linebackers David Long Jr. and Malik Reed; backup QB Mike White; wide receivers Braxton Berrios and Freddie Swain; tight end Eric Saubert; punter Jake Bailey; guard Dan Feeley; and safety DeShon Elliott.
They also brought back running backs Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Myles Gaskin, and Salvon Ahmed; cornerback Nik Needham; fullback John Lovett; wide receiver River Cracraft; linebacker Duke Riley; and offensive tackle Geron Christian.
Those moves were a net positive for a team that lost the following players from last year’s roster: Tight ends Mike Gesicki and Hunter Long; wide receiver Trent Sherfield; linebacker Elandon Roberts; and punter Thomas Morstead.
Plus, more than a dozen 2022 Dolphins remained free agents as of Monday afternoon: Defensive backs Byron Jones, Justin Bethel, and Clayton Fejedelem; linebackers Andrew Van Ginkel and Sam Eguavoen; EDGE Melvin Ingram; offensive linemen Eric Fisher, Greg Little, Brandon Shell, and Michael Deiter; tight ends Cethan Carter and Adam Shaheen; defensive linemen Trey Flowers and John Jenkins.
And they did all of this with significant salary cap limitations.
Jalen Ramsey Trade a Game-Changer for Dolphins
The Dolphins’ defense didn’t work last year without Jones, Needham, and Trill Williams — all of whom missed significant time due to injuries. But the last two are back — and should be back healthy.
Plus Ramsey — who cost Miami just a third-round pick plus Long — is a big upgrade over even a healthy Jones (and based on his “can’t run or jump” tweet, he might never be fully healthy again).
Ramsey, paired with Xavien Howard, gives the Dolphins the No. 2 cornerback tandem in football. Plus, they should have plenty of help across the middle with the safety combination of Elliott, Jevon Holland, and Brandon Jones.
“You look at it on paper, it’s something that you would definitely want to be a part of,” Ramsey said last week. “I know I’m not the only person who wanted to be a part of it and will want to be a part of it in the future.”
Long Story Short: An Improved Linebacker Room
There’s no other way to put this: David Long is an upgrade over Roberts. And Long — signed to a very team-friendly contract — paired with Jerome Baker will give the Dolphins one of the quickest starting linebacker groups in football.
Miami still needs to add a pass rusher, and based on the remaining free agents — Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney, Yannick Ngakoue, among others — they should find one priced reasonably.
Offensive Line, Tight End Still Need Work
The only quibbles one could make with Chris Grier’s plan and execution of said plan? The offensive line and tight end rooms are a bit diminished.
The Dolphins still need a starting-caliber offensive tackle (perhaps the draft is the plan), and without Gesicki, they really don’t have a playmaker at tight end. Saubert, Durham Smythe, and Tanner Conner — the only three tight ends currently under contract — combined to catch 30 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns in 2023.
One possible fix: Use Cedrick Wilson Jr. — the Dolphins’ tallest wide receiver — extensively in the red zone.
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