The beginning of the free agency period has been kind to the Miami Dolphins these days and even with the regular season 6 months away it looks like they are ahead of the rest in the AFC East. The “off season champs” torch has been passed along to the Denver Broncos and Miami is just moving forward slow and steady with some key signings. Miami parted ways with cornerbacks Dimitri Patterson and Nolan Carroll, Johnathan Martin has moved his twitter account to the west coast and run stuffing Paul Soliai was left to sign with another team.
Even with free agency only in it’s infancy, the Miami Dolphins have been pretty busy early on. There is still some more noise to be made but lets look at the key additions and re-signings Miami has made so far.
Re-signing CB Brent Grimes
With all the off season champ talk last year who would of thought that the most impactful player came out of one of the quietest signings. Cornerback Brent Grimes, a two time Pro Bowler, was the clear prize for the Miami Dolphins from what was the busiest off season for them in decades. A corner once thought to be too small for the position and with an achilles injury to boot, was hands down the lockdown corner the Miami Dolphins needed finishing tied for a team high 4 interceptions. A $32 Million deal with about half guaranteed was enough to keep Grimes a Dolphin for another four years. Grade: A (Not A + because it was a given)
Signing S Louis Delmas
Hoping to repeat the magic of the Grimes signing last year, the Dolphins took a chance on safety Louis Delmas. Delmas is a hard hitting safety that knows how to get to the man with the ball. An alternate Pro-Bowler for the Lions in 2010 and 2011 that comes with “injury prone” tag attached to his name, but still managed to play in all 16 games last season (first time in his career) and collecting 3 interceptions. Delmas will most likely start opposite of Rashad Jones deep in Miami’s secondary. Grade: B+
Signing T Branden Albert
The one position the Dolphins needed to take care off right from the start was the void left by Jake Long last year in the left tackle spot and it only took two years to get it done. Branden Albert was a Pro Bowler in 2013 and signing him was by far the most significant move by the club thus far. Last year the Dolphins showed how weak the position was by allowing a league high 58 sacks and now he can be named the strongest part of the offensive line. Grade A+
Signing DT Earl Mitchell
An undervalued signing that spurred much debate on this blog between Dolphin fans, mainly because the offensive line still needed shoring up on the right side. Anyway you debate it, the fact remains that the DT position was something that needed to be addressed. At 300 pounds, Earl Mitchell is a 26 year old coming off a career year with Houston. He put together career highs of 48 combined tackles and 1.5 sacks. Most likely he will be sharing time with Jared Odrick on the defensive interior adding to the rotation and flexibility of the defense. Grade B+
Re-signing DT Randy Starks
There was a question before the resigning of Randy Starks of who to keep between him and Soliai and the market answered that for us when Paul Soliai signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Randy Starks signed a 2 year deal with the Dolphins for about $12 million and will continue his consistent play going forward. A six year veteran of the Miami Dolphins since 2008, Starks has accumulated a total of 26 sacks, one forced fumble and 4 interceptions all while transitioning from a 3-4 end to a 4-3 tackle and never missing a game. Grade: A
Signing CB Cortland Finnegan
Continuing with the revamping of the secondary, Miami added former Pro Bowl corner Cortland Finnegan. With only seven games played last season with the rams and at 30 years old he comes in as a question mark of improvement. At the very least he will add depth to a secondary that was pretty depleted last season due to injuries. Again, the Dolphins are hoping lightning strikes twice and Finnegan ends up being the unsung hero of the off season, highly unlikely but with a deal worth $11 million over 2 years the potential reward is greater than the risk. Grade C+
Signing G Shelley Smith
With the four signings for the Dolphins on defense already inked in, Miami finally began to address the offensive line again. Former St. Louis Ram, Shelley Smith is certainly an effort to improve the line but all roads seem to be heading towards the draft for the o-line. Smith comes with 8 starts over two seasons and played in all but two games last year for the Rams. With Incognito likely not to return and John Jerry on his way out as well, Smith serves as a short term solution and most likely just adds depth to the line. Grade: C-