2023 Miami Dolphins – Pre Free Agency and Draft

As we head into the roster building and tweaking stage of the year, let’s take a look at how the current roster shapes up, and where this team needs to focus as we near NFL free agency. We have an awful lot of players that were on the 2022 team that are now UFA’s (Unrestricted Free Agents), which means they are free to sign with any NFL team and are no longer part of our team or under our control. A fair amount of those players won’t be returning, but there are a few who made an impact on our season last year. Since there are 29 in total, realistically at least 2/3 of those players will be playing football elsewhere. We’re over the cap by more than $12M at the moment, so there will be cuts, and of course some restructuring of contracts of roster players in order to give the team some cap room to not only sign some of the players that were here last season, but some new ones as well. This is an annual exercise every NFL team does to manipulate the salary cap. Players get more guaranteed money this season in order to lower their salary cap hit, and the money is deferred down the line to next season and beyond. Obviously, at -$12M, we have our work cut out for us, but the FO will make it happen as they always do.

Free Agents

OFFENSE – TE Mike Gesicki, QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Raheem Mostert, RB Jeff Wilson, RB Myles Gaskin, RB Salvon Ahmed, LT Eric Fisher, TE Adam Shaheen, OT Greg Little, WR Trent Sherfield, WR River Cracraft, OT Brandon Shell, G/C Michael Deiter, OT Geron Christian, FB John Lovett

DEFENSE – LB Andrew Van Ginkel, DT John Jenkins, LB Melvin Ingram, CB Nik Needham, S Eric Rowe, LB Duke Riley, S Clayton Fejedelem, LB Elandon Roberts, DE Trey Flowers, LB Sam Eguaoven, DB Justin Bethel, P Thomas Morstead, S Elijah Campbell, CB Trill Williams

There are certainly some impact players on this list, especially considering the most obvious one, our entire running back roster is on the list. Of the 4 RB’s, I’d be surprised if more than one or two return. With limited funds, we may sign one, draft one, and then pick up a couple of UDFA’s after the draft. Other than the entire running back room, Andrew Van Ginkel who has been a very good player for our team may get his shot at a nice contract, so I won’t be surprised if he’s elsewhere this season. Melvin Ingram had a nice season for us last year, but his contract demands will decide whether we’re able to re-sign him. One of my favorite players, CB Nik Needham is coming off an injury, which gives us a better chance at bringing him back. Elandon Roberts had an excellent season, his best as Miami Dolphin. He fits new DC Vic Fangio’s scheme perfectly as well. Punter Thomas Morstead had a nice season for us and wants to return, so we’ll see how that plays out. The 2 former 49ers WR’s Trent Sherfield and River Cracraft were nice additions, but we do have last year’s 4th RD pick Erik Ezukanma that should be ready to see more significant playing time, so one or both of those face long odds to be back.

TE Mike Gesicki had his quietest season as a Miami Dolphin which would signal that he has played his last season as a Dolphins TE. Gesicki caught less than 1/2 the amount of passes as his previous season, and although he may not fit what Mike McDaniel wants in Miami, I feel he will get his chance to catch 70-80 passes elsewhere next season. Our Defensive line has been superb, with the exception of NT/DT, where starter Raekwon Davis has been the weak link. Injuries are a part of it, but more push up the middle could have resulted in lots more sacks for defense. Backup John Jenkins is a free agent, but I’m not sure what Fangio wants to do there, so he also may be in jeopardy. Our O-line depth are nearly all UFA’s, Brandon Shell in particular had a very nice showing last season at RT, and Greg Little filled in at LT and RT due to injuries. My guess is we’ve seen the last of G/C Michael Deiter. Depth guys like Trill Williams and Elijah Campbell were forced into difficult situations due to injuries, but showed well at times. The same could be said for Safety Clayton Fejedelem and CB Justin Bethel who are primarily ST’s guys. QB Teddy Bridgewater, widely regarded as a great signing as a backup QB couldn’t stay healthy in any of his appearances which means it’s very unlikely we revisit that mistake.

NFL Free Agency begins on Wednesday March 15th. We all know starting QB Tua Tagovailoa is taking judo classes in order to protect himself better when being taken to the ground, but regardless of that fact, the Dolphins just have to make sure they have a reliable backup QB, unlike the disaster that was Teddy Bridgewater last season. It’s possible 2nd year QB Skylar Thompson get the opportunity to be the backup, but considering Tua’s health concerns, I think the Dolphins look to a more established QB. The QB FA list is long, but there may be a couple of players that won’t be exclusively looking for a starting gig that may be willing to accept a backup job, especially if the QB is likely to miss time, which unfortunately at the moment, is a possibility here in Miami. Of the younger players, I’d think Taylor Heinicke (30) and Mike White (28), Gardner Minshew (27), Jarrett Stidham (26) and possibly Jacoby Brissett (30) might be willing to accept a backup job, especially when all the starting jobs have evaporated. Brissett had a better ’22 than he did with the Dolphins in ’21. White had some great games for the Jets, until he entered the M*A*S*H unit himself after getting pummeled by the Bills defense. Heinicke has 25 NFL starts so lots of experience for a young player and is a capable QB. I like Gardner Minshew and feel he’d be a perfect backup to Tua. Jarrett Stidham got a few late season starts last season for the Raiders and looked solid in at least one I watched. Of older players, Case Keenum (35), Andy Dalton (35) and Joe Flacco (38) would all be fine doing backup duty, but Keenum would be my choice among that group.

There’s been lots of talk about upgrading MLB here, but considering we drafted Channing Tindall last season with our first pick #102 (RD 3), and we have #55 Jerome Baker, and last year’s starter Elandon Roberts will be a less expensive option than any of the group of Tremaine Edmunds, Kwon Alexander, or Levonte David, I’d be betting on Roberts return rather than any of those guys. I know we’ll be restructuring contracts, but we’re -$12M now, so we have work to do to get in the black, and out of the red. There’s more uncertainty at CB, and one place where we might be able to free up a good amount of cap space is CB Byron Jones. The big question is, does he get another opportunity to play here in Miami after a lost season? The Dolphins, at least outwardly, haven’t slammed the door on Jones returning, but a post June 1st cut could save the Dolphins $13.6M against the cap. As I’ve previously mentioned, I think it’s imperative we re-sign Nik Needham who has proven his worth over and over again, and if he’s healthy enough to begin the season on time, he should be a priority re-sign.

The NFL Draft will be Thursday April 27 – Saturday April 29. I’ll get into the draft and our outlook on that after free agency is done as we’ll have a much clearer picture of our needs at that point. We have a a player or two on our roster that deserve contract extensions, and that usually allows for some salary cap relief in the immediate future. DT Christian Wilkins has to be priority number one. No player has earned an extension more than Wilkins. He had a great 2021 season and he followed that up with an exceptional season in ’22. He’s due a big payday, and you must reward your own guys. Zach Sieler, Wilkins’ defensive line mate is another player deserving an extension. The proverbial lunch pail player, Sieler is one of the best rotational defensive linemen in the NFL. He’s playing for a paltry $3.1M and he’s the type of player every NFL team covets, a guy who shows up, works hard, and does his talking on the field with his play. The other player is on the side of the trenches, G Robert Hunt. He’s probably one of our best draft picks in recent years, and in ’24, Hunt will be a free agent. There’s always the franchise tag, but I’d love to see Hunt on this team long term, he’s our best, most consistent offensive lineman not named Terron Armstead, and he’s our own homegrown talent. Pay that man his money!


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772 Responses to 2023 Miami Dolphins – Pre Free Agency and Draft

  1. bailbondmike says:

    When I look at these TE’s and their athleticism and how they look on the field, even some of the projected day 3 guys, I’m like what were they thinking trading up and drafting Hunter Long.

    He didn’t run at the combine but ran an “unofficial” 4.63 at his pro day. Hmmm? Sure doesn’t show up on the field. He is always slow to get on his block. Yeah, he caught a ton of passes, but…

    As Steve said, “TE is one of the hardest to evaluate”.

    They got that one wrong. IMO

  2. bailbondmike says:

    My buddy posted, “It just won’t stop!” “Already at about 45 feet on the season with a month and a half to go.”


    • Brian in NY says:

      It’s crazy. My cousin lives in Truckee, and sent me a video of her and her husband shoveling their roof the other day. I think they have gotten over 550 inches this winter .

      • bailbondmike says:

        He expects this year to be the biggest in the last decade if they can exceed 680 inches from about 8 years ago. Thinks they will hit the mark unless the weather pattern changes.

  3. bailbondmike says:

    This is a really good RB class when you look at it. Some big guys with some speed and smaller guys with track speed.

    Bijan Robinson
    Jahmyr Gibbs
    Zach Evans
    Israel Abanikanda
    Devon Achane
    Zach Charbonnet
    Sean Tucker
    Tank Bigsby
    Roschon Johnson
    DeWayne McBride
    Keaton Mitchell
    Tyjae Spears
    Kenny McIntosh
    Eric Gray
    Deuce Vaughn
    Mohamed Ibrahim
    Chase Brown
    and more who could surprise.

    Looking forward to seeing what times Achane and Michell (ECU) put up. Another who could go sub 4.3 is Sean Tucker who I actually like more than Achane and Mitchell. He is much bigger than those two at 5’9 207 with blazing speed.

    Also, some of the bigger guys like 5’11 216 Abanikanda and 6’0 219 Roschon Johnson both may be sub 4.4.

  4. bailbondmike says:

    I like Sean Tucker as he is a 3 down RB with a great compact size. Can go between the tackles with power. Think he might run a sub 4.3 today. If we miss on Forbes in the 2nd round, I would love them to draft this guy in the 2nd round. To have him and Mostert back would be incredible.

    What you think?

    • Brian in NY says:

      I’ve seen a decent amount and read about him a lot. Syracuse isn’t too far from me, so there are a lot of fans around here. He would be a good fit for this offense.

  5. bailbondmike says:

    LT Blake Freeland, BYU is killing his combine placing 1st in every category. Comes from Utah’s wide zone scheme. Was projected as a 5th rounder. He improved his stock. Weakness is in pass pro though.

  6. Mike E. says:

    NEW BLOG UP!!!

  7. bailbondmike says:

    OT Dawand Jones, OSU not testing very well.

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