At that time, the Dolphins and the other 31 NFL teams can beginning signing unrestricted free agents, signing restricted free agents to offer sheets, trading players, and, in Miami's case, finally releasing Joey Porter.
What follows is my entire offseason plan for the Miami Dolphins, covering releases, signings, re-signings, trades, the draft, and undrafted free agency.
I did the same kind of article last year, and man, not much of it came true. But hey, at least I got the Sean Smith pick right.
Terminate the contracts of...
- ILB Akin Ayodele — The 30-year-old was a nice pickup a few years back when we were transitioning to the 3-4, but he's a liability in coverage and his tackling has declined.
- OLB Joey Porter — He finally isn't worth the headache anymore, and he was a liability against the run anyway. Time to move on.
- ILB Reggie Torbor — He's extremely overpaid and hasn't shown that he can develop into a starter, struggling every time he gets the chance on defense.
- FS Gibril Wilson — A big free-agent signing last offseason, Wilson was horrendous in coverage and failed to make even one big play in 2009. It doesn't matter who replaces him; this is addition by subtraction.
Place on waivers...
- RB Tristan Davis, OG Ray Feinga, WR Taurus Johnson, WR Julius Pruitt, OT SirVincent Rogers, RB Kory Sheets, OLB Erik Walden. These guys don't need to be cut immediately, but these are my choices to be released to keep the offseason roster under 80 after all the free-agent signings, trade acquisitions, and draft picks I outline later in the article.
- WR Davone Bess (ERFA) — Bess doesn't have a ton of upside and lacks ideal size and speed, but he's a reliable pass-catcher and an ideal slot receiver.
- RB Ronnie Brown (RFA) — Brown is a Pro Bowl-caliber talent when healthy, and should definitely be re-signed if no team is willing to give up their first-round pick to sign him as a restricted free agent.
- K Dan Carpenter (ERFA) — Carpenter made the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement in his second pro season, and is an easy choice to bring back.
- TE Anthony Fasano (RFA) — Fasano regressed as a receiver in 2009, but he's still a quality blocker and is good to retain until someone better comes along.
- NT Jason Ferguson (UFA) — The Dolphin will hopefully draft their long-term nose tackle this offseason, but Ferguson is still a quality player when healthy and would be a nice veteran to split time and help groom the younger guy.
- TE Joey Haynos (ERFA) — He might never develop into more than a backup, but his size (6-foot-8) is intriguing and he's definitely worth bringing back to compete.
- OLB Quentin Moses (RFA) — "Q-Mo" has never lived up to his potential in the pros, but he's worth bringing back to again compete for a roster spot.
- QB Chad Pennington (UFA) — The Dolphins may be able to get a fifth-round pick back for Tyler Thigpen, in which case re-signing Pennington would be an ideal move. He's a proven winner with experience in Miami's system, and would continue to be a great mentor for Chad Henne.
- OLB Jason Taylor (UFA) — The Dolphins need to get younger at outside linebacker, but they can't replace both Porter and Taylor this offseason, and Taylor is still highly effective against by the run and the pass.
- CB Nathan Jones (UFA) — I'm a big fan of Jones as a nickel corner, blitzer and special-teamer, but his solid performance in Miami should get him a decent contract on the open market. Miami has three starting-caliber cornerbacks under contract, thus there is no need to open the wallet for Jones.
- Third- and sixth-round picks in the 2010 NFL Draft to the Arizona Cardinals for wide receiver Anquan Boldin — The Cardinals' asking price is reportedly a third-rounder, so Miami could use one of its sixth-rounders to sweeten the deal and out-bid another team. Boldin isn't extremely young and has some durability issues, but he's a legitimate No. 1 receiver and would give quarterback Chad Henne the big, reliable, play-making target he needs.
- QB Tyler Thigpen to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 2010 fifth-round pick — Jacksonville had interest in Thigpen last offseason, and could still use him now as someone to groom. Miami has no need for Thigpen with Pennington re-signed. The Dolphins get back a fifth-rounder, replacing the one they dealt to Kansas City for Thigpen.
Sign free agents...
- FS Oshiomogho Atogwe (RFA - St. Louis Rams) — The Rams placed the low tender on Atogwe, meaning they have the right of first refusal on an offer sheet, but receive no compensation if they decide not to match. Miami should sign Atogwe to a long-term deal with a "poison pill" that states Atogwe receives an insane bonus if he plays a certain amount of games in the state of Missouri (like Seattle did when they signed Nate Burleson and Minnesota in 2006.) The Rams can't match, and Miami's free safety problems are solved.
- ILB Karlos Dansby (UFA - Arizona Cardinals) — The prized free agent of the 2010 class, Dansby would go a long way in solving the Dolphins' growing problems at inside linebacker. He'll cost quite a bit of money, but there won't be a salary cap, and this is the guy to open your wallet for.
- CB Marlin Jackson (UFA - Indianapolis Colts) — Jackson wasn't tendered by the Colts as an RFA, meaning he can sign with anyone. The former first-round pick has knee issues and can't be counted on to start, but he has good size for a corner and has experience at every position in the secondary.
- WR Kassim Osgood (UFA - San Diego Chargers) — A stellar special teams player and three-time Pro Bowl selection, Osgood has plenty of experience and intriguing size (6-4, 204). He'd be worth picking up just for his special-teams ability, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him compete for a significant role on offense.
- Round 1 — OLB Sergio Kindle (Texas) — I'd really like to take Alabama's Rolando McClain here, but after signing Dansby, the Dolphins need to address outside linebacker more quickly than I have them doing in the rest of this draft. Kindle has experience playing linebacker and is a quality pass-rusher, injecting some youth and talent into the position for the Dolphins.
- Round 2 — NT Cam Thomas (North Carolina) — The Dolphins need a long-term solution at nose tackle, and Thomas is one of the best in this year's draft. He has a ton of ability and could anchor the Dolphins' 3-4 line for years to come.
- Round 3 — (no pick; traded to Arizona for Anquan Boldin in this mock offseason)
- Round 4 — OG John Jerry (Ole Miss) — The Dolphins have no clear-cut answer at right guard, where Donald Thomas and Nate Garner have been inconsistent or have little upside. Jerry is a mauler and could be groomed to fill the Dolphins' line offensive line void.
- Round 5 (from JAX in this offseason mock) — ILB Jamar Chaney (Mississippi State) — Chaney is flying under the radar after playing for a bad college team, but he's a great tackler and has the talent to start as a rookie. He'd be a great pickup to eventually replace the quite average Channing Crowder.
- Round 6a — OLB Justin Cole (San Jose State) — Cole has some upside as a pass-rusher and experience at linebacker, making him a good addition to a linebacker corps that needs to get younger.
- Round 6b — (not pick; traded to Arizona for Anquan Boldin in this mock offseason)
- Round 6c — FS Nick Polk (Indiana) — Even after signing Atogwe, it'd be nice to add a young safety through the draft, and Polk would be a steal here. He's very athletic and could potentially contribute as a returner too.
- Round 7a — OLB Antonio Coleman (Auburn) — Another addition at outside linebacker, Coleman would play special teams early on, but could develop into a contributor on defense.
- Round 7b — WR Jeff Webb (UAB) — A college quarterback, Webb is raw but has good size (6-3, 220) and presents some interesting wildcat/spread option possibilities due to his experience as a passer.
Sign undrafted free agents...
- QB Ryan Perrilloux (Jacksonville State) — An intriguing prospect that originally played at LSU, Perrilloux could serve as a camp body and potential long-term project if the team comes to their senses and dumps Pat White.
- RB Stafon Johnson (Southern California) — More known for his life-threatening weight-lifting injury his senior year, Johnson is a solid running back prospect and work taking a look at as a potential practice squad player.
- WR/KR Brandon Banks (Kansas State) — Although he measures in at just 5-foot-7 and 149 pounds, Banks is lightning quick and is a home-run threat as a returner. His size may prevent him from making it in the NFL, but his 4.2 speed alone makes him worth a look.
- TE Michael Hoomanawanui (Illinois) — He didn't do much his senior season due to an ankle injury and a horrendous Illini offense, but Hoomanawanui has great size (6-4, 264) and a good blend of blocking and pass-catching abilities. He could push for the No. 3 tight end job or of a practice squad spot.
- OT Levi Horn (Montana) — The Dolphins have picked up a few Grizzlies over the last few years, and here's another one. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Horn is an intriguing project at tackle.
- DE Lorenzo Washington (Alabama) — The Dolphins love stockpiling defensive ends, and this product of Nick Saban's 3-4 scheme at Bama would be a good addition to the camp roster.
- NT Travis Ivey (Maryland) — The Dolphins already grabbed their long-term nose tackle in my earlier draft, but there's no reason not to add another prospect and see what you find.
- ILB Lee Campbell (Minnesota) — A former defensive end, Campbell developed into a stout run-stuffing linebacker for the Golden Gophers. He'd compete for a role on special teams or the practice squad.
- CB A. J. Jefferson (Penn State) — Jefferson wasn't very productive for the Nittany Lions, but he has decent size for a corner, good athleticism, and has some upside as a returner.
- S Stevie Brown (Michigan) — Brown played linebacker and safety for the Wolverines, but would project primarily as a special-teamer and long-term project at safety for the Dolphins
Obviously, a lot of this won't happen. The Dolphins won't be interested in every player I listed above, and they may not even get a shot at some of the guys in the draft.
Still, I think it's interesting to build a team with the pieces of your choice, and see what comes out the other end.
That's why I've made a depth chart from the offseason roster that would come from making every move I've listed above, which you can download here.
Well that's it. Call me whenever you want, Bill. I'm ready for the job.
What do you think of this offseason plan? Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments or discuss this article on the forum here!