Counting Down the Top 10 Offseason Moves
It was a very busy offseason for the Miami Dolphins as they set about to revamp their roster and move along the rebuilding the project that began in earnest in 2019.
The end result was a flurry of free agent signings, along with a couple of trades and a fruitful 2020 NFL draft.
But which moves involving veterans stood out? Here's our countdown of the top 10, taking into account the cost involved and the likely immediate and long-term impact on the team.
Note that we are not including draft picks in this exercise because that's an entirely different topic.
So here we go:
10. Signing DE Shaq Lawson as an unrestricted free agent
The Dolphins really needed help with their pass rush, so there's something to be said for picking up a former first-round pick. The only issue with this move is the price tag (three years/$30 million) for a player who's never had more than 6.5 sacks in a season and might be better suited for a 4-3 defense than the 3-4 the Dolphins figure to employ more often.
9. Signing LB Kamu Grugier-Hill as an unrestricted free agent
This was an under-the-radar, yet solid pick-up as Grugier-Hill signed a one-year, $3 million deal. He started 16 games for the Eagles the past two seasons and was very good in coverage in 2018 (not quite as good last year), plus he has extensive special teams experience.
8. Signing LB Elandon Roberts as an unrestricted free agent
Roberts' playing time on defense diminished in 2019 after he played about half the snaps the previous two years, but the Dolphins got him on a very reasonable one-year contract ($2 million), so this will become a prove-it contract.
7. Signing G Ereck Flowers as a UFA
Like Lawson, the Dolphins gave Flowers a three-year, $30 million contract, which certainly initially appears awfully pricey for a former first-round bust who had a good year at guard in 2019. Given the expected youth and turnover on the offensive line, Flowers will be a key player for that unit. But the size of his contract and his short track record of success are why this move isn't ranked higher.
6. Signing DE Emmanuel Ogbah as a UFA
Ogbah has similar career numbers to those of Lawson with 18 sacks in four seasons, though he appeared on his way to a nice year in 2019 with 5.5 before he landed on IR after 10 games. The Dolphins also got him at a more palatable price (two years/$15 million).
5. Signing WR Albert Wilson to a restructured contract
This qualifies as a move, even though Wilson was on the roster last year, because there was no way he was coming back at his original salary of upward of $9 million. While it's certainly disappointing from a player standpoint to have to take a $6 million pay cut, it was either that or having to find a new team. So now Wilson is on a one-year, $3 million deal he can parlay into a bigger salary with a big season. And the Dolphins get to keep a potentially key player on offense.
4. Acquiring RB Matt Breida in a trade
While the Dolphins might end up regretting not using their draft capital to land a top running back in the draft, they certainly got a nice deal when they landed Breida for the low price of a fifth-round pick. The one caveat is that Breida is in the final year of his rookie contract and the Dolphins will have to re-sign him next spring or lose him to free agency after just one year. For the short term, though, Breida brings the element of speed to the backfield.
3. Signing RB Jordan Howard as a UFA
Howard might not be a sexy name and he did miss six games with injuries last year, but the truth is he's been a steady performer since he got into the NFL, and the Dolphins got him at a reasonable price of $9.75 for two years.
2. Signing LB Kyle Van Noy as a UFA
This was a key piece for the Dolphins because of Van Noy's versatility and his familiarity with the Brian Flores scheme from their time together in New England. Van Noy has never made the Pro Bowl, but his performance was at that level the past two seasons. The four-year, $51 million contract is very hefty on the surface, but the Dolphins can walk away from it without much consequence beginning in 2022 if Van Noy doesn't perform up to expectations.
1. Signing CB Byron Jones as a UFA
Yes, the Dolphins paid an awful lot of money to get Jones, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million, but he undeniably was the best cornerback on the free agent market and his addition fits the blueprint of building the defense from the back end. With Jones, Howard and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene have the makings of a cornerback group to rival any in the NFL.