Dolphins Free Agents: Who Will Leave, Who Will Stay

The Miami Dolphins have 13 players set to become unrestricted free agents in March
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The Miami Dolphins made their first significant move of the offseason Tuesday when they signed All-Pro kicker Jason Sanders to a five-year contract extension, and another imminent order of business is determining which of their impending free agents they'll try to retain.

The 2021 league year is set to begin March 17 and the Dolphins currently have 13 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.

The list is headed by veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and also includes running back Matt Breida and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux.

Here's a look at those 13 players, with a quick evaluation on their standing on the team and our best guess as to whether the likelihood of their return is strong, moderate or slim, understanding that salary demands obviously will factor into every decision (players listed in order of 2020 salary):

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick — 39 years old, 2020 salary $5.5 million

Fitzpatrick has been really good in his two seasons with the Dolphins, regardless of those who keep insisting on pointing to his career arc and refuse to let go of some of his past struggles. As proof, Fitzpatrick finished the 2020 season with a 95.6 passer rating, the second-highest of his career. Even though he turned 38 in September, Fitzpatrick still can produce, though the odds of him staying in Miami don't appear very good. For one, he's said time and time again what keeps him going is competing and it's tough to see him being happy returning as the clear backup to Tua Tagovailoa instead of trying to find a team where he could compete for a starting job. Having him on the roster also might not make sense for the Dolphins given that he replaced Tua Tagovailoa twice this season and the coaches aren't going to want Tua looking over his shoulder. Pro Football Focus predicted in a story published Tuesday that Fitzpatrick would sign a one-year deal to stay in Miami. Quite frankly, we just don't see it. Likelihood to return: Slim

RELATED: Fitzpatrick Addresses His Future

RB Matt Breida — 26 years old, 2020 salary $3.3 million

When the Dolphins traded a fifth-round pick to get Breida from the 49ers, the expectation was that he could provide speed and big-play ability to the offense. It didn't play out that way, with Breida finding himself relegated to a background role. Maybe the strangest thing of all with Breida was him not getting one snap on offense the last two games after rushing for 86 yards against New England in Week 15. The Dolphins might be on the lookout for an impact running back, but they have plenty of serviceable players at the position even if Breida leaves. Likelihood of return: Slim

RELATED: The Dolphins' Real Running Back Issue

LB Kamu Grugier-Hill — 27 years old, $3 million

Grugier-Hill played 15 games with one start after coming over from the Eagles last March and pretty much provided what was expected of him. He's more of a special teams player with the ability to chip in on defense when needed. He played a little more than 20 percent of the defensive snaps in 2020 after being closer to 30 percent the previous two years with the Eagles, so he might be interested in looking for an opportunity for more playing time on defense. Likelihood to return: Moderate

C Ted Karras — 28 years old, 2020 salary, $3 million

Like Grugier-Hill, Karras signed a one-year contract as a free agent last March. As the center on a very young offensive line, Karras provided experience and leadership. While his performance was solid, the Dolphins ranked 25th in the NFL in yards per carry up the middle and it's possible the Dolphins will be looking for an upgrade here. Likelihood to return: Moderate

P Matt Haack — 27 years old, 2020 salary, $2.1 million

Haack rejoined the Dolphins as a restricted free last year, but his contract is up again. Haack's gross average was in line with his career numbers (his four years have been between 44.5 and 45.0 yards), but the consistency wasn't always there and the Dolphins also gave up two punt returns for touchdowns. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Dolphins go another route here. Likelihood to return: Moderate

LB Vince Biegel — 28 years old, 2020 salary $2.1 million

Biegel never got the chance to build on his promising 2019 season because he tore an Achilles in August. Like Haack, he had rejoined the Dolphins as a restricted free agent last spring. His injury last year took away a lot of his bargaining power this spring. Likelihood to return: Strong

LB Elandon Roberts — 27 years old, 2020 salary, $2 million

Yet another free agent who joined the Dolphins last March on a one-year deal, Roberts delivered some big plays in run defense, particularly in short-yardage situations. His free agent situation will be complicated by the significant knee injury he sustained in the next-to-last game at Las Vegas. Likelihood to return: Moderate

S Kavon Frazier — 28 years old, $1 million

Another free agent who came on a one-year deal, Frazier ended up being named a special teams captain. Somebody will have to answer for the two punt returns allowed, so maybe there's no guarantee he'll return. Likelihood to return: Slim

RB DeAndre Washington — 28 years old, $1 million

Washington got 28 carries in three games after joining the Dolphins via trade and averaged only 3.1 yards per attempt. Maybe the Dolphins will want to see what the former fifth-round pick can provide being with the team from the start, but there's certainly no guarantee he'll be back. Likelihood to return: Slim

WR Mack Hollins — 28 years old, $759K

Hollins has made his name on special teams and he was very good in that aspect for the Dolphins in 2020, which might be enough to earn a return despite some inconsistency catching the ball as a wide receiver. Likelihood to return: Strong

WR Isaiah Ford — 25 years old, $825K

Ford has had quite the journey with the Dolphins since being a seventh-round pick in 2017, bouncing on and off the practice squad, going to and coming back from New England last year before ending on the active roster and having a forgettable season finale at Buffalo. Ford is a guy coaches like because of his preparation and work ethic, which would make it unsurprising if he returned — though he'll have to fight for a roster spot like always. Likelihood to return: Moderate

T Julien Davenport — 26 years old, $747K

One of the returns from the Laremy Tunsil trade, Davenport barely played in 2020 outside of short-yardage situations and one would think he'd want to explore options where he could get himself some playing time. Likelihood to return: Slim

DT Davon Godchaux — 27 years old, $650K

This perhaps is the most intriguing situation involving a Dolphins unrestricted free agent. Godchaux had the misfortune of sustaining a pectoral injury five games into his contract year, which obviously didn't give him the chance to raise his market value. While he's been a starter for three years, the stats show the Dolphins run defense last season was much more effective after Godchaux was sidelined — though some of that could be explained by simple natural progression. Still, the Dolphins gave up 126 rushing yards per game and a 5.0 average in their five games with Godchaux, and those numbers dropped to 112 yards and a 4.3 average over the final 11. Even more significant, the Dolphins gave up 86.7 rushing yards per game and a 3.9 average in the final six games as rookie defensive tackle Raekwon Davis continued to develop. Likelihood to return: Slim