After a bit of a lull following their flurry of activity right before and after the start of free agency, the Dolphins have gotten busy again, exercising the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of Christian Wilkins and then signing running back Sony Michel and veteran edge defender Melvin Ingram.
With those moves, along with re-signing defensive tackle Benito Jones, that makes it 34 moves since the start of March, including re-signing their own free agents, including tight end Mike Gesicki after they placed the franchise tag on him, and restructuring some contracts, adding 10 UFAs from other teams, and placing a second-round tender on restricted free agent Nik Needham before he signed it to ensure his return in 2022.
While a final assessment of each move won't be fully clear until the 2022 season plays out, we continue to update our ranking of the offseason moves in terms of importance.
This actually was a very close because adding the fastest wide receiver Tyreek Hill obviously was a big deal, but because the offensive line is a factor on every single play and because Armstead has the ability to raise the level of the whole group because of his experience and leadership, we give it the top spot.
While Howard did have three years left on his contract, signing him to a new deal was very significant because it ensured the best player on the team would be back to anchor the defense. And, make no mistake, the Dolphins' plans to maintain the status quo with mostly the same personnel and Josh Boyer back as defensive coordinator would have been severely derailed had the team not been able to solve Howard's contract situation as they had promised to do when they found a temporary solution last summer after Howard had requested a trade. This was big.
The addition of Hill, which was reasonable in terms of pick compensation but expensive in terms of the new contract the Dolphins gave him, just creates all sorts of possibilities for the offense — not only because of his big-play ability but because opposing defenses will have to account for him every time he's on the field.
4. Re-signing DE Emmanuel Ogbah
We said this from the start, that probably nothing the Dolphins could do in free agency would be more important that keeping the versatile edge defender, who we'll say again has been the Dolphins' second-best defensive player behind Xavien Howard.
5. Signing QB Teddy Bridgewater
Even though we found out odd that Bridgewater would not reveal his expected role during his Zoom media session Monday, we certainly believe he was brought in as the clear backup to Tua Tagovailoa and in that vein he represents a clear upgrade over Jacoby Brissett.
6. Re-signing TE Mike Gesicki
The big question right upon the hiring of McDaniel as head coach was how well the pass-catching Gesicki would fit in an offense that asks its tight ends to block. However this works out, there's no question that Gesicki brings a major element to the passing game with his size and receiving ability.
There are a lot of reasons to like this move, which brings another proven veteran with Pro Bowls and playoffs on his resume. While the raw sack stats weren't there last year, Ingram still was an effective pass rusher and he remains a good run defender.
8. Signing RB Sony Michel
Even though this was the last move involving a veteran running back, we'll go ahead and call it the best one. And it's not because he's the former first-round pick, but rather because he's more established as a potential lead back than Chase Edmonds and because of the uncertainty with Raheem Mostert's health. This was, at this stage of the NFL calendar, a great pick-up for the Dolphins.
9. Extending a second-round tender on restricted free agent Nik Needham
This was a good and necessary move for a valuable cornerback who's become a solid NFL player after three seasons.
10. Signing FB Alec Ingold
It was a guarantee (or just about) that the Dolphins would add a fullback in free agency given McDaniel's background — yes, even after the addition of John Lovett to a reserve/future contract — and the Dolphins got a very good one in Ingold, who brings not only blocking ability but pass-catching skills as well.
11. Signing RB Chase Edmonds
A shifty running back with pass-catching ability is a perfect fit for the offense that Mike McDaniel will be bringing to the Dolphins, and Edmonds should be effective as part of a rotation in the backfield.
Because of his blocking ability, it always figured the Dolphins would bring back Smythe, who has developed into a reliable receiver since entering the NFL even if he's not a down-the-field threat.
13. Signing G Connor Williams
The Dolphins offensive line has attracted a lot of attention over the past few years, and we've maintainted all along that the most important factor for its improvement in 2022 will be improvement from its young players. That said, adding a veteran like Williams, who has done some good work but is coming off a sub-par season, was a move in the right direction.
14. Signing RB Raheem Mostert
There's risk involved with this signing because of Mostert's knee history, but the Dolphins didn't give him a huge contract and the potential reward is big because if Mostert can regain his form, he should make a very good tandem with Edmonds.
15. Exercising the Fifth-Year Option on the Contract of DT Christian Wilkins
The only reason this move isn't ranked higher is because it was a mere formality and a gigantic no-brainer. Now, the Dolphins could double up on it by signing Wilkins to a long-term extension.
16. Restructuring the Contract of CB Byron Jones
A simple restructure normally wouldn't rank higher than re-signing a player or acquiring somebody from another team, but this one merits special consideration because it saved in excess of $10 million in cap space in 2022.
This was the second consecutive offseason the Dolphins got their punter in free agency, and in Morstead they got one of the most established around the league. Morstead revived his career in 2021 with the Jets and Falcons after the Saints released him last offseason following a rare dip in his performance — he averaged 43.1 yards per punt that year after never being under 46 yards otherwise since 2016. Bottom line, Morstead looks like a clear upgrade over 2021 punter Michael Palardy.
18. Signing WR Cedrick Wilson Jr.
This is an ascending player coming off a breakout season for the Dallas Cowboys, and the only issue one could have with this move was the salary involved ($12.75 million of fully guaranteed money, per overthecap.com) for a player with a limited resume.
19. Re-signing LB Elandon Roberts
The Dolphins obviously like what Roberts brings, both in terms of physicality and leadership, to have re-signed him to a one-year contract for a third consecutive season.
While one could argue the Dolphins didn't get much of a return for an established starting wide receiver, they were able to clear some cap space for a player who clearly had become less important after the offseason acquisitions of Hill and Cedrick Wilson Jr.
21. Signing CB Keion Crossen
The Dolphins have not been shy in recent years about giving multi-year contracts to special teams players, which is what they did with the speedy Crossen.
22. Re-signing WR Preston Williams
The Dolphins bringing back Williams after they failed to extend him a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent actually has to qualify as a bit of a surprise. The hope is he can go back to the earlier version of Williams, who showed flashes in 2019 and 2020 before a forgettable 2021 season. Williams could play finds himself with more opportunities in 2022 with Parker no longer on the roster.
23. Re-signing LB Duke Riley
This was part of series of moves that saw the Dolphins re-sign depth linebackers who made major contributions on special teams.
24. Re-signing LB Sam Eguavoen
Eguavoen fits in the same mold as Riley and Brennan Scarlett as backup linebackers with special teams ability brought back on a one-year contract.
25. Re-signing LB Brennan Scarlett
See Sam Eguavoen and Duke Riley.
26. Re-signing DT John Jenkins
Jenkins signed a one-year with the Dolphins last offseason to be provide depth up front as a run stopper. He wasn't much of a factor down the stretch, but provides a nice insurance policy because of his experience.
27. Signing WR Trent Sherfield
This was a depth signing, with the idea that Sherfield maybe could carve a role as a backup wide receiver while contributing on special teams.
28. Tendering and Re-Signing DB Elijah Campbell
This was a simple move because Campbell was an exclusive-rights free agent and all the Dolphins had to do was offer the league minimum to keep him, and Campbell showed promise as a special teams contributor in 2021.
29. Tendering and Re-Signing RB Salvon Ahmed
Same situation as Campbell, though we ranked this one a spot below because Ahmed certainly isn't assured of making the 53-man roster after being a non-factor in the second half of last season.
This move saved the Dolphins some cap space and it seemed pretty clear after last season that a parting of the ways would be best for both sides.
31. Re-signing S Sheldrick Redwine
Redwine is a young player with special teams experience, though he'll have to fight to make the 53-man roster.
32. Restructuring the Contract of S Clayton Fejedelem
As with Jones, this was done to clear up cap space, though the amount of space saved wasn't nearly as significant here.
33. Re-signing DT Benito Jones
This was a good move in terms of giving a young player another chance, but it's also not likely to have much significance come September unless Jones takes a big step forward. In that event, it obviously would move up this list considerably.
34. Releasing WR Allen Hurns
The former University of Miami player spent all of the 2021 season on injured reserve and figured to have a tough battle just to earn a roster spot.