Bargain Bin: Five Potential Free Agent Bargains for the Miami Dolphins
At this stage in the offseason, teams will be accruing low cost veterans to round out their depth charts before the draft. While most signings tend not to be particularly noteworthy or impactful by the time the regular season starts, there are always diamonds in the rough that surprise everyone. These late free agent signings that far outperform their inexpensive contracts often separate the good front offices from the great ones. The Miami Dolphins aren’t going to be able to fix all of their issues with the 2017 draft alone, so a dip into the remaining free agent pool is definitely not out of the question. Whether the team is active or not, there are some guys left on the open market that could make an impact if brought into the fold.
Gerald Hodges Jr. (LB):
The 49ers linebacker had to pay his dues as a depth linebacker and special teamer for four years before his breakout 2016 season. Often inconsistent and in the trainers’ room during his time in Minnesota, Gerald Hodges finally found his footing in place of the injured Navarro Bowman during his second year in the bay. The 26-old-linebacker totaled 83 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions in 15 games (12 starts) as one of the few solid pieces on what was a terrible San Francisco defense. He’s an apt run defender, excellent interior blitzer, and he’s reliable in pass-coverage. While there’s always a chance that 2016 was an aberration in an otherwise mediocre career, he seems to be a player with the arrow pointing up.
In the Dolphins’ 4-3 defense, Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons figure to be two of the three starting linebackers. While Hodges may not figure to be the starter, he has upside and would represent a major depth upgrade from the revolving door of last season.
Jonotthan Harrison (G/C):
The Miami Dolphins’ offensive line is in a state of significant flux. With Laremy Tunsil moving to left tackle, Mike Pouncey a perpetual injury risk, and Branden Albert gone to Jacksonville, the offensive line is in need of stabilization. While the starters at tackle are probably sure things (Laremy Tunsil at LT and Ja’Wuan James at RT) the interior offensive line needs work. Mike Pouncey will be the starter at center if he’s healthy. At guard, the roster currently has Jermon Bushrod, Ted Larsen, and Anthony Steen to compete for the two starting spots. Bushrod will probably hold down the right side, but none of the three are ideal starters. Enter Jonotthan Harrison.
Harrison was an undrafted free agent out of Florida, who started 23 games for the Indianapolis Colts at center and guard over the last 3 years. Make no mistake, Harrison will not fix the o-line. However, he has starting experience at two very weak positions and at 25 he has more long-term upside than Larsen or Bushrod. At the very least he would provide badly needed depth and competition on the interior of the offensive line.
Jared Odrick (DL):
When Jared Odrick left Miami in 2015 to cash in on a 5-year, $42.5 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, few thought he would be a free agent again so soon. Odrick had a solid first season in Jacksonville, but he struggled with a rash of injuries and was placed on IR in his second season with the Jaguars. In addition to injuries, it has been rumored that minor off-field concerns were the straw that broke the camel’s back when the Jaguars made their decision to move on from Odrick. Considering Odrick’s injury history, off-field distractions, and bloated contract, it isn’t exactly a surprise that the Jaguars decided to move on from the 7-year veteran.
However, a reunion with the team that drafted him makes sense. The Dolphins already have their starters in Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips, and Jared Odrick would be an excellent third man in the rotation. Jared Odrick could remain in the state of Florida (enjoying the lack of state income tax) and be given an opportunity to push Jordan Phillips for the starting job while playing for a team with legitimate playoff aspirations.
Anquan Boldin (WR):
The Dolphins have plenty of receiving weapons: Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Julius Thomas, but depth is still an issue. Leonte Carroo is still unproven as the number 4 receiver and Julius Thomas’ health is flaky at best. Anquan Boldin could be a potential target if the team wants a more proven option on the depth chart. Boldin is hardly a burner, but even at 36 he was one of the best possession/redzone wide receivers in the NFL last season. He was the most reliable receiving option on the Detroit Lions last year, totaling 67 receptions for 584 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Boldin represents more than just a depth receiver if he’s added to a team this offseason. For one, he is one of the best blocking receivers in the league; he doesn’t shy away from blocking on running plays and screens for some of his shiftier collegues. He is also still a capable redzone threat and can outmuscle smaller cornerbacks with ease. If the Julius Thomas experiment doesn’t work out, Boldin could soften the blow. However, if Thomas stays healthy, I can only imagine the damage Adam Gase could do with two big physical targets like that in redzone sets.
Darrelle Revis (CB):
Darrelle Revis was one of the worst starting cornerbacks on the league last season and was unceremoniously released by the Jets just a few days into the 2017 league year. Additionally, his assault arrest (charges dropped) in February casts even more doubt on his value to a franchise. So, why would any team give the 31-year-old a chance? The name alone warrants attention, and his performance in 2015 was among the best of his 10-year career. The question teams are asking is: Was 2016 the end of Revis Island or just a blip on an otherwise outstanding career? Revis insists it is the latter, and he’s taking better care of his body to show potential employers that he’s serious. At the very least, the New England Patriots are kicking the tires.
The Dolphins are in dire need of cornerback help, as Byron Maxwell and Xavien Howard are often in the trainers’ room and depth beyond them is average. While Revis is not a prefect schematic fit or a sure thing physically, a late-career renaissance is not yet out of the cards for the future hall-of-famer. Why not roll the dice if the money isn’t crazy? Plus, is there anything better to imagine than the faces of Jets fans watching Darrelle Revis in yet another AFC East jersey?