Miami Dolphins 2022 Offseason Preview: Pending free agents, team needs, draft picks, and more

The Miami Dolphins missed the playoffs, so let's look ahead to their offseason, including pending free agents, teams needs, and draft picks.

The Miami Dolphins will likely be in the market for a quarterback during the 2022 offseason after Tua Tagovailoa didn’t make a quantum leap forward in 2021. Let’s lay out the possibilities, break down the Dolphins’ salary cap situation, list their many team needs, and go through their pending free agents and 2022 NFL Draft picks.

Update 01/10/21: The Miami Dolphins fired head coach Brian Flores.

Miami Dolphins 2022 Offseason Preview

The Dolphins badly wanted Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson before the trade deadline. However, a deal died because Watson’s serious legal situation remained in limbo. Watson will almost certainly know if he’ll be charged criminally by the start of the league year. Thus, the big question is whether Miami will be OK taking on a player who won’t face criminal prosecution but still has nearly two-dozen open sexual misconduct lawsuits.

Our guess is if Watson is cleared criminally, that will be enough for the Dolphins to get a deal done. That change would immediately take the Dolphins from a middle-of-the-pack team to a challenger in the AFC.

Miami has three first-round picks in the next two years, and they’ll likely need to use all three — and then some — to acquire Watson. They would get some sort of compensation for Tua in a trade (probably a late second-round choice or an early third-rounder). But there’s no doubt that trading for Watson would significantly dent the Dolphins’ draft capital.

Then, there’s the financial aspect. The Dolphins would be on the hook for roughly $45 million in salary cap obligations for Watson and Tua if they traded for the former and dealt away the latter. That could quickly eat into the mountain of cap space the Dolphins currently are projected to have this offseason.

Dolphins have $75 million in projected cap space

Source: Spotrac (as of Jan. 9)

No team is projected to have more cap space than the Dolphins. Plus, they could end up with even more than what’s currently projected with a couple of easy cuts. Releasing wide receivers DeVante Parker and Allen Hurns, safety Eric Rowe, and kicker Jason Sanders would give Miami roughly another $19 million.

Miami still has more than enough resources to take on Watson’s contract, trade Tua, and significantly improve their roster. However, there are other smaller moves they can make this offseason if they just want to keep chipping away and shift the focus of the roster at all.

Dolphins’ pending free agents

Beyond the quarterback position, the Dolphins’ biggest question this offseason is what to do with tight end Mike Gesicki and edge defender Emmanuel Ogbah. Unless something truly weird happens, expect Gesicki to get franchise tagged (at roughly $10.9 million) if he doesn’t sign an extension before March 8.

Ogbah is trickier. No Dolphins defender has had more sacks the last two years. At age 28, Ogbah would be a coveted player on the open market. Other pending Dolphins UFAs include WRs Albert Wilson and Mack Hollins, LB Elandon Roberts, and TE Durham Smythe. Not many of those will be high-priority free agents, but there are some useful players that the Dolphins might try to bring back on relatively team-friendly contracts.

How do the Dolphins’ free agents rank among the best available in 2022? Be sure out our list of top free agents available at each position to find out.

Dolphins’ team needs

Since 2019, the Dolphins have used four premium draft picks on offensive linemen. Yet, they still had arguably the worst pass protection in football. Expect Miami to use a good chunk of their cap space on signing multiple offensive linemen, including at least two starting tackles.

Beyond that, they have the QB question to deal with. It is not the highest priority because Tua is serviceable, but they still need an upgrade. The offense needs to be the focus across all fronts. They need better protection across the line and an upgrade in their weapons. If Gesicki leaves, you can add tight end to those needs.

Dolphins’ top five needs in the 2022 NFL offseason

  • Offensive tackle
  • Quarterback
  • Wide receiver
  • Running back
  • Interior offensive line

Dolphins’ 2022 NFL Draft picks

The Dolphins will have eight picks, but only three of their own. Their first-rounder belongs to the Eagles. They’ll be picking in the 49ers’ spot in Round 1 as a result of the three-way deal that moved them from the third pick of the 2021 NFL Draft to the sixth (which they used on Jaylen Waddle). Miami’s extra fourth-rounder was what the Steelers sent them in return for a fifth-rounder in 2021, which Pittsburgh used on defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk.

Here’s how the Dolphins’ 2022 NFL Draft picks currently stand according to the draft order:

  • Round 1 (Pick 29 — from SF)
  • Round 2 (Pick 18)
  • Round 3 (Pick 36 — from SF*)
  • Round 4 (Pick 16 & Pick 20 — from PIT)
  • Round 5 (Pick 15)
  • Round 6 (Pick 22 — from NE)
  • Round 7 (Pick 3 — from HOU)

 

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