Here's What Miami Dolphins Should Do With All 15 Free Agents
Photo by Morgan Coleman
Now that the Super Bowl is over, it's time to face the cruel reality Dolphins fans have been dealing with for what feels like forever: Football is gone, and it's not coming back for a very long time. That sucks. We love football. We love football so much that the NFL offseason might be our second favorite sport. OK, not here in Miami, but probably in Tennessee or somewhere.
Before the Dolphins prepare for the NFL draft, they have to tend to in-house decisions — namely, which of their own free agents they would like to keep. It's like cleaning out your closet before you go shopping for a new wardrobe: Some things stay; others go to Goodwill.
Here are the guys the team should keep and the ones the Fins should forget they ever brought to South Florida.
Matt Moore, QB
Matt Moore has been paid handsomely to act as Ryan Tannehill's training-wheels-baba-bottle, but it's time to take the safeguards off. It's been so long since Moore played that we aren't even sure he's still the best fallback option if shit hits the fan. It seems like the Dolphins really like former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, so it makes sense that he would be next year's backup QB.
Derrick Shelby, DE
Shelby is a luxury the Dolphins may no longer be able to keep. A career backup, Shelby was bumped up to starter for nine games after Cam Wake was lost for the season. Shelby more than held down the fort when the Fins' superstar was lost, totaling 37 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and one interception in his mix-and-match season. If the Dolphins lose Olivier Vernon, retaining Shelby instantly becomes much more important.
Louis Delmas, FS
Delmas tore his right ACL twice in nine months with the Dolphins, so relying on him in 2016 is highly unlikely. The Fins went with Walt Aikens much of last season, but they surely will look to upgrade at the free safety spot. Delmas is only 29 years old, so it's entirely possible the Fins give him a one-year depth deal and hope he recovers enough to be a quality secondary asset that might come in handy at some point during a long NFL season.
Kelvin Sheppard, ILB
In his second year with Miami, Sheppard managed 102 tackles — second best on the team — which is not too shabby. Though Miami is in desperate need of a complete overhaul of its linebacker group, if Sheppard is open to returning at something near his current $2-million-per-year deal, he's definitely someone the Dolphins should bring back, if even just for depth.
Olivier Vernon, DE
This might be where you see the Dolphins place their franchise tag. Olivier Vernon is coming off a four-year, $2,848,080 rookie deal and looking to get paid. The Fins might have no choice but to break the bank for Vernon for one year while they continue to figure out if he's worth a huge pay raise. Buying another year with a new coaching staff might be the best option for all parties involved.
Ulrick John, LT
J.A.G. See ya!
Brandon Williams, TE
I don't know if he's any good, but the Panthers cut him early in the season. Tough luck, bro. Not as much fun in Miami last year.
Michael Thomas, FS
Michael Thomas is definitely a player who won't command a great deal on the open market, but if he does, he could be a goner. Teams value secondary depth, especially cheap secondary depth, and Thomas might be the newest Fins secondary player who ends up being an overpaid player on another desperate team. Then he will be awesome, because that's what always happens.
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Spencer Paysinger, OLB
The Dolphins need new linebackers. Spencer Paysinger will probably not be a part of the revolution. Once again, if he's willing to take less, have at it.
Jake Stoneburner, TE
Roster filler. Who knows, honestly. Make Stoneburner had his 15 minutes of fame last season, so at worst the Dolphins can bring him back for peanuts knowing he is capable of not pooping his pants when the bullets are live.
Rishard Matthews, WR
Rishard Matthews seems to be slipping under the radar this offseason, but that's nothing new for him. While everyone is worried about Vernon or Miller, Matthews might actually be one of the biggest reacquisitions the Dolphins can make this offseason. Steady and sure, Matthews could be a nice third option on a team that will have Landry and Parker producing big on rookie deals. In 11 games last season, Matthews had 61 catches and four touchdowns, which are nice stats from a wide receiver playing on a bad offense with little to zero coaching direction. New coach Adam Gase might turn Matthews into a playmaker, making any deal he gets this offseason seem like a steal.
Shamiel Gary, S
This guy is a project. He probably stays, but if he doesn't, you'll barely hear about it. Now that I've written this, he will be released and explode as a Buffalo Bills special teams stud next season.
Matt Hazel, WR
He's an intriguing prospect you have to believe the Dolphins want to keep. Hazel was active a few times last season and seemed to have the coaching staff's trust when guys ahead of him went down. More Hazel, less Jennings — that might be the case in 2016.
Shelley Smith, G
Remember him? He was another one of the Dolphins' shitty offensive line signings that the team sold to fans as a possible difference maker; then he was not that thing! Here's the truth: If you didn't crack the Fins' offensive line the past few years, you aren't that good. Otherwise, you would have played, because even Jason Fox played.
Lamar Miller, RB
Lamar Miller is good at football. That is confirmed. The problem is he's a running back, and those are easy to find in the NFL these days. Miami fans might need to look past the fact that Miller is as Miami as it gets (a former Hurricane star) and be realistic: Paying a running back big money almost always backfires. If it doesn't backfire, it's simply just a bad idea, salary-cap-wise. If Miller wants to get as much money as he can possibly get, he might be better off finding it in San Francisco from Chip Kelly.