For the most part, the Miami Dolphins have received some rave reviews regarding their approach to the 2017 free agency period. One thing is certain, this time things have been different for the Dolphins.
In recent years Miami has been in the running for the free agency crown and has done everything in it’s financial power to win it, even at the expense of letting their own free agents leave town. Last year alone Miami saw the likes of Olivier Vernon, Lamar Miller and Rishard Matthews leave via free agency.
Each of them solid players and important parts of Miami’s roster.
This year, they have focused on retaining their own. They re-signed Kenny Stills when many thought, myself included, that he was headed towards a massive free agency deal. They re-signed Andre Branch as well.
Then Miami turned their attention on extending the contract of Reshad Jones, as they previously did with Cameron Wake. They plan to do the same with Jarvis Landry and Kiko Alonso among others.
Miami has proven that they are willing to not only bring in players they feel can help improve their roster, as they did with the free agent signing of Lawrence Timmons, but they value their own talent, perhaps even more.
And while the free agency water seem calm in Miami at this time, they are reportedly scheduled to meet with free agent defensive tackle Dontari Poe. The Dolphins, with a need a linebacker, have also been linked to Dont’a Hightower, who is scheduled to visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers after wrapping his visit with the New York Jets.
An article came out from Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero today that looked into the rumors linking the two free agents to the Dolphins, essentially shutting them down. Salguero has also reported that while the Dolphins are interested in Hightower, his pricetag doesn’t.
But it should, in fact both players should interest Miami.
Before Dolphin fans break out the pom-poms thinking the Poe that wreaked havoc not long ago for the Kansas City Chiefs, and likely still does on Madden, he was not close to being that player last season.
This is probably why Poe is willing to sign a one-year deal, a “prove it” deal. And if that is the case, Miami should kick the tires.
The Dolphins have a need a tackle and Poe is in need of a solid season so he can enter free agency again. The opportunity to line up next to the Ndamukong Suh, who occupies consistent double teams, would provide Poe plenty of one-on-one opportunities.
Opportunities to wrack up the numbers. Opportunities to increase his value. Opportunities to fetch a big contract in free agency.
So, if a prove it deal is what Poe is willing to entertain, Miami may be the most appealing scenario and the Dolphins, cap conscience as they are being, could justify the one-year deal.
With Hightower there is no getting around the fact that he is going to land a big contract. And while the Dolphins may balk at his asking price, they are believed to be willing to pony up the financing for the positions they feel are most important, such as linebacker.
Plus, the addition of Hightower hurts the New England Patriots in a move that is very “Patriots”. Having an opportunity to take an elite player, an impact player, at an important position, who was instrumental in their Super Bowl championship run and Super Bowl win, is a rare one and one that needs to at least be explored in full.
Hightower makes sense, for a lot of reasons and allows Miami to draft the best player available in this year’s draft.
That’s where Jabrill Peppers comes in.
The Dolphins, despite signing free agent Nate Allen, have a need at the safety spot next to Reshad Jones. Let’s face it, that position has been cursed the past few seasons with injuries to Isa Abdul-Quddus and back-to-back injuries to Louis Delmas, all scenarios leaving Miami in a bad position that was often times exposed.
Peppers is all over the mock draft board and it’s still unclear which position will suit him best in the NFL; safety, linebacker, corner?
But there is a real chance that Peppers will be available when Miami is on the clock at #22 and he is the type of player that should excite the Dolphins should he be there. Peppers’ versatility can address a number of areas for the Dolphins immediately.
First and foremost, he can slide into the safety spot next to Jones.
Or he could be developed as a linebacker, which Miami also needs.
And he can also do what Jakeem Grant was supposed to do, but failed miserably at doing; taking punt return responsibilities away from Jarvis Landry.
As good as Jarvis is in that role, the risk of injury is far too great to justify putting him in that position, Landry means far too much to the Dolphins offense. Peppers has proven he is more than capable at handling those responsibilities, and thus could offer a sense of relief to Landry and the Dolphins.
Peppers is as likely to be selected in the Top 10 as he is in the Top 20 and the first round altogether. He is the true wild card of the draft.
But Miami, unless Reuben Foster freefalls into their laps, really has no better chance to land a steal in this year’s draft than by drafting Peppers.
And about their other needs? This is a deep draft a linebacker. This is a solid draft for corners and defensive linemen. In fact this is a deep draft for defense, period.
Offensive line, which the talent level drops off big time after the 1st round, can be addressed in the mid-rounds and addressed adequately.
Bottom line is the Dolphins aren’t boxed in at #22 to select one position. They can be daring. They can be bold and they can roll the dice on Peppers.
And they should. Just like they should with Poe and just like they should with Hightower.