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Dolphins free agency priority: Cornerback

When free agency begins for the Dolphins and all other NFL clubs March 11 (negotiations can begin March 8) one of the priorities, indeed the top priority, the Dolphins may have is the cornerback position.

We know this because although the Indianapolis Combine is supposed to be about preparing for the draft in that draft-eligible players are inspected in almost every way imaginable, the last five days was also about meeting with the representatives for free agents. It was about meeting with agents for some of Miami's pending free agents as well as those representing potential free agents about to hit the market.

And the position the Dolphins asked these agents most about during Indianapolis was, you guessed it, the cornerback spot, according to multiple league sources.

This makes sense.

The Dolphins have needs at offensive line, safety, defensive tackle and probably running back. But cornerback is perhaps the second-most obvious need after OL because Brent Grimes and Nolan Carroll -- the starters most of 2013 -- are both pending unrestricted free agents.

Moreoever, the Dolphins might be deciding that keeping Dimitri Patterson and his $5.4 million cap hit that comes with his inconsistent durability is a luxury they cannot afford.

Obviously, the team is interested in bringing back Grimes at what new general manager Dennis Hickey has been calling a Dolphins value. That means the Dolphins decide what a player is worth to them and they would be willing to pay. (Unfortunately, in some cases, that Dolphins value and the player's value of himself are not equal.)

Signing Grimes, who will be 31 in before the season, to a four or five-year contract is a tricky proposition. It simply isn't done in the NFL with a cornerback that age.

The Dolphins might also consider a franchise tag on Grimes, although that doesn't make a ton of sense. The franchise tag on a CB is expected to be approximately $11 million, all of it in a lump sum salary-cap space swallowing chunk. The Dolphins should be able to add two cornerbacks for that kind of cap hit.

The Dolphins have until March 3 to designate a franchise player.

So cornerback will be a position of heavey activity for Miami the next two weeks.

Why not offensive line or one of the other positions, you ask?

Well, the Dolphins will probably do work there, too. But the coming draft is replete with good offensive linemen. So the Dolphins can add good, young, cheap talent at offensive line during the draft. Miami may come away with two or three offensive linemen in the draft and add an offensive lineman in free agency as well.

The Dolphins can adress safety in the secondary free agency market or the draft but after signing Reshad Jones to a big contract extension last year, they are not likely to allocate more money big money on the back end. The team also knows it can bring back either Paul Soliai or Randy Starks and there are some options at the defensive tackle position that might come available as well.

Running back, meanwhile, it is not a priority free agency spot. Paying big money for a free agent running back is not often wise.

So the Dolphins are looking around with cornerback being a focus.

And there might be some significant cornerback talent in free agency. If one considers only last season's performance, the best cornerback on the market might be Aqib Talib of the New England Patriots. And it would make sense for the Dolphins to be interested in him as Hickey was in Tampa Bay when the Buccaneers drafted him in 2008.

But, of course, all is not simply about last year's performance. The Dolphins have to consider other factors before ever thinking of Talib. Firstly, Talib's depature from Tampa Bay was forced in part because the red flags many teams had on him before the draft (he was actually off the Miami draft board in 2008) manifested themselves soon after he was drafted.

He got into a fistfight with a teammate at the 2008 rookie symposium. In 2009, he allegedly battered a taxi driver. In 2011, he was arrested in Texas for battery with a deadly weapon when he allegedly went after his sister's boyfriend. Those charges were dropped in 2012 but only in time for Talib to be suspended by the NFL for violating the NFL drug policy for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

The Patriots got Talib in trade in November of 2012 for a fourth-round pick.

And he's been great for them. He locked down the other team's best pass-catcher, regardless of size or speed. He went one-on-one with Jimmy Graham when the Patriots beat the Saints in 2013.

But Talib has also shown the penchant for getting hurt. He missed time last year with a hip injury. He had a hip injury in 2010. He finished the 2011 season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

The point is Talib is great ... when he's not suspended, or in trouble or injured.

Oh, and he wants to return to New England. So there's that.

But the Patriots, with only approximately $7 million in projected 2014 cap space, might not have the way to get Talib signed. They want to but ... well, you get the idea.

So that name is out there.

Other names that resonate as possibilities for the Dolphins?

Green Bay's Sam Shields is a player coach Joe Philbin should be familiar with. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a fine cornerback and may be difficult for the cap challenged Broncos to re-sign. Walter Thurmond is a solid No. 3 if the Dolphins aren't able to re-sign Nolan Carroll.

And perhaps the best player of the class -- all things considered -- might be Alterraun Verner. He's very young at 25. He's a fine player. He makes plays. And because the Titans already paid a mint for their other cornerback, Jason McCourty, they might not be able to pay Verner, too.

Verner doesn't have the off-the-field issues of Talib, the age issue of Grimes, and he's more consistent than DR-C.


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..I would also say that I see the Phins making a gamble here. I don't know if the team will franchise Grimes. Easy to say for me..Franchise him. But what we say and what reality is.. 2 different things.

First.If you can lock up Verner to a 3-4 year deal. You let Grimes go. That is a no brainer. But we have no clue what the Titans will do. We hold the keys to Grimes. But if the idea is let Grimes go to sign Verner. Good move. I think you have to keep Patterson as well. You have to think that if he can play. He is a bargain.

The team then can focus on the line. The draft is as deep as any as far as lineman go.(Dashi I think you are the only person on the planet that thinks this group is thin..That is fine, your opinion)..But I think it is a mistake to think we should draft our way to competence. At least in one single draft.

We have to find some veteran relief. LT, RT, G? We have to solidify these spots. It is our duty to develop our quarterback. We drafted him. We cannot just let him role out there behind a patchwork group. Why take a chance on a guy, then ignore protecting him?
Do not let Tanny just go down in flames because we couldn't figure out a way to put blockers in front of him...

Trade Carroll to an AFC East rival.
Throw the ball his way and score touchdowns.

Even the year Flacco o the SB he was the 8th most sacked QB that year.....

DD, I don't buy that at all. The tests the players do during the combine are extremely important if you know how to interpret the results. These exercises measure pure athleticism. And that is a helpful measure of where to rank a guy.

Last year I went through an execrise based on the results of these tests as a major baromter and if you saw the players we would've drafted by using these test results (either with or without a trade down) you would've seen that we could've have an other worldly draft.

And funny that marvin lewis would say such a thing when he consistently drafts the best test scores round after round including players like Tyler Eifert, Margus Hunt, and late round pick Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio State.

Margus and Tyler both had the best test scores for their positions and Reid was the 4th best OT score.


Kris, none of thoss Qbs were in their 2nd year in the league either so if you're going to paint then paint the whole picture.

True Mark....

and I am not downing our now 3rd year QB....

just answering Dashi's post....

I still don't think we need an ALL-WORLD O-LINE....we just need a better and more servicable line than we had last year....

Especially with Tanne's style of play...athletic...STRONG...mobile...and durable....lets protect Tanne....but not going broke trying to swaddle him....

Aaron Donald is an interesting D tackle prospect putting up some really good numbers at the combine. He is small though.

Also Seattle is reportedly releasing D tackle Red Bryant. The team might have some options and leverage over Starks and Soliai.

...MIT..I know you are a big combine guy. I don't but it. What Lewis said when he was asked about the combine was similar to Polians thoughts. Lewis said. Yeah we will see some guys run, but they aren't in football shape. They are in combine shape. These scores mean little that the tape can't already tell you. He also confirmed that the medical stuff was primary.

Also..He isn't doing the drafting in Cinci.

My point..The NFL has sold the Combine as something more then it really is. It for TV. Sure it has some value. But to me. people put too much stock into the Combine results. There are still Pro-Days, Personal visits. They do all this stuff over again without the cameras.

Sign Albert day 1 of FA. Ask McKinnie if he will play right tackle, since he wouldn't in Balt. if no see ya.
draft zack martin at 19 for left guard.
Agree with others Matt moore and his $5 million should be cut to free up money. look at bills game. great pass on third and forever for 1st down. next pass interception. typical moore. devlin can do that.

...MIT..There is probably a bunch of different theories as far as importance of the Combine. Just like some teams value going to the Senior Bowl, some do not. (I know all the teams are at the combine)

What I am saying. If I am GM. I do not want an off the field test score to skew my decision. I want to trust my eyes. Trust what the tape says. Some teams may do it different. They may hold the Combine results similar to how you do. A bunch of ways to evaluate players. It is a tool. I am not disregarding this. I just question how important these results really are.(field test stuff)

Ok, Kris, I agree with that 100%. That's why I cringe when hearing that Zach martin should be without a doubt our #1 pick no matter who is on the board. Truth is the guy graded out fine but there is nothing special about the guy. he is just fine. There are just three guys that should be no doubt picks at OT for us at #19 and that is either in order Lewan, Robinson, or Matthews. When it comes to martin, I am not saying no, I am just saying let's see who else is on the board. Drafting in the first round just for "fine" or "plug and play" is one of the reasons we are where we are. We need to gamble on greatness on game breaking.

You can make the o line good enough in free agency and at minimum a 2nd round pick.

But agree, let's take the blinders off and see the whole picture.

let's bring in the best guys possible.

By the way, one guy always comes out of nowhere in the testing process and this guy for me is Joel Bitonio of Nevada as fas as the OTs go. 3rd round grade, but his test results tell us he is every bit the athlete the top three are. Now if the tape is good on this guy, then use that 3rd round pick and develop the guy. Looks like the Terron Armstead of thsi years group.

Miami won't be in a position to draft him, but CJ Mosley would improve the run defense immediately considering our subpar LB play is the reason teams ran all over us. Move Ellerbe to the outside since the guy takes himself out of plays the second he engages a blocker, put Mosley in the middle, have Misi man the other side and let Wheeler rotate in on dime packages just so Miami can say he wasn't a complete waste of money.

..MIT..I don't know if you listen to NFL radio? The best football show on the planet is IMO moving the chains with Pat Kirwan..Anyway. He has been talking up Bitonio as a "his guy" for a few weeks now. He likes him to the Phins actually. Tells all the Dolphin callers to do their homework on this guy..

Nice find..

DD, I hear what you are saying and tape and player evaluation skills in game come first and tell you what round a guy should eb drafted in. But once you put those guys in their different buckets by round, then you shoudl prioritize them by their supurior atheltic ability.

And a side note by off the field test score - even if they meant nothing in the game of football (which i def don't agree with) - the fact that a kid can apply himself and become one of the best in each of these tests should tell you three very important things in the least.

1) their natural athletic ability

2) the ability to apply themselves or commitment - I mean you aren't born being able to leap 35 inches or bench 20+ times that takes a lot of early mornings and long days

3) Athletic intelligence - the knowledge of how to apply themselves athletically to get the most out of themselves physically.

Anyway, just a few reasons beyond the obvious as to why I love this time of year.

We need to move on from Patterson, not because of his salary BUT because of his durability. Carroll needs to be cut. Now, this is a real good and deep draft. so keeping in mind we need immediate contribution from our draftees and that we need almost half the OL, I propose a Miami product by way of Nebraska... Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Look at tape on this kid and get back to me.


..MIT...@ 10:51.. I agree with everything you say. But the Combine is not the only venue to measure these traits. That is what I am saying. It is one part of a whole. The reason the medicals are so important is because the teams cannot do the same examinations that they do at the Pro day..It is 1 day. The Combine is 4-5 days where if a team wants to poke or prod they can. Different rules at the Pro Day. Sure teams can bring in a guy to their own building. But these are limited. The medical information at the Combine is paramount. Every single player goes through it.

If the Combine was the only time for these teams to get these numbers(40 time, Bench, etc) I would agree with you. But it isn't. It is 1 step in the process.

DD, truth be known, never heard of the guy until I looked through these scores. He went to nevada and they are never on tv hear unless you have a sports package or get out of your way to watch them and ususally the football is so bad out of the school that why would you subject yourself to watching it unless you were looking for someone.

Anyway what I like about Bitonio is his natural athletic ability. he's not the strongest guy(22 reps) (and I know that goes against my basic credo in linemen) but his lower body or core strength is elite. he's fast -4.97, he's got super co-ordination as his cone and shuttle results were dam fine and his broad and vertical tests were also very, very good. So he's an explosive dude. So even though he may lack a great punch, his functional strength and ability to move are exceptional.

In other words, sounds like an intriguing zone blocking dude.

There are so many holes on this team it doesn't really matter which side of the ball they draft for.

Yeah, Bitonio had a really good combine. Interesting 2nd round prospect, he won't fall to the 3rd anymore imo.

I like watching the combine but alot of the drills are useless. No one does a long jump (standing still, both feet in straight line, jump forward) during a football game. There are no cones on a field for 3 cone drills. These are specific skills the players practice before the combine and can become quite good at them, but for football specific skills they are totally useless. If a drill does not mimic what actually happens on a field they really need to get rid of it. Warren Sapp only benched 225 16 times. Jerry Rice only ran a 4.59 forty. Tom Brady had a horrible combine. I think the combine is more for finding red flags, getting true height/weight measurements, or seeing if you can find an really good athlete in the later rounds. It can also tell you about some WRs hands as they actually run and catch passes during the combine, one of the drills they do that can actually tell you something.

BTW: We need to go OL in the first and 2nd rds maybe again in the 4th and 5th... we can get a more than decent DB in Jean-Baptiste in the 4th round. I also like Brandon Coleman in the 4th because he is very tall (6'6") and has huge hands, his speed is adequate for his size. Coleman would draw more than single coverage and take pressure of the line.

Paul and I analyzing the differences of opinions between the different posters here regarding the same Player they saw at the Combine. Interesting, but expected. The best opinion is the one closest to the result of the debate.(Paul, did you write down Dashi's opinion. Yes, Oscar)

..MIT..That was Kirwans take. "If you need a guy to come in and fit in zone block scheme..Bitonio is your guy)..He talks about his sets, and hands(stuff I do not know how to identify) Thinks he could be a late first round pick, definitely a guy who could start from the second round.

DD, definitely agree that is only a part of the process, I do keep up with pro days as well - my own personal days fluctuates all the way through till almost draft day.

Other o tackles that i thought showed well that are beyond the big four are:

Wesley Johnson OT 7th rd Vanderbilt
Charles Leno OT 4th rd Boise State
Billy Turner OT 2nd rd North Dakota State
JaWuan James OT 3rd rd Tennessee

I thought Cyrus k. and Morgan moses really bombed. Cyrus appears to be the next in over hyped ordinary Alabama prospects.

Another test that is way over hyped is the bench press. If a DL or OL has a really good bench press performance that can actually be a red flag that his arms are short - an advantage in bench pressing but a death sentence for linemen. Plus some players bounce the bar off their chest, space their arms really wide, arch their backs (all cheating techniques) and that can infate the number of reps they do but not prove true strength and power.
All this combine stuff needs to be taken in context. How far a QB can long or vertical jump is toally useless information.

MassD, you can compile a pretty nice list of guys who showed well at the combine and did nothing in the pros.

But the list of guys who showed well at the combine and did well in the pros is a lot longer.

The incline is all that matters for o lineman - not the bench press.

JaWuan James OT 3rd rd Tennessee would be a good pick up in Rd 2 even. I think he could start RT day 1, that is if we get a nice LT in FA

MassD, just stop with this short arms theory. Antonio Richardson had the highest bench at 36 times with 35 inch arms. it's baloney made up by guys that could never bench.

And this bouncing technique - actually hurts your bench press as does arching your back. What you are seeing are the last few reps after the guy is gassed.

You bench a lot more by keeping your body quiet and lifting straight through your chest in quiet motion.

Look at jace Amaro if you want to see how to properly bench. Quiet- doesn't move his legs at all - and minimal bouncing. 28 reps at 265 pounds. Some of the best form I saw - this tells me he's a guy that understands his body and it's functionality.

...MIT..I am a small school freak..So I know about Billy Turner. I like him. especially in the run game. I do not think he is a player that could play day 1. So if we were drafting him with the idea that we would play him right away. I think it would be a reach. I think he is a 3rd round guy that needs some coaching. He isn't a great pass blocker. I think he would struggle with speed rushers. Put him at right tackle with some tight end help..

But in our brilliant offense. We do not use tight ends like this..So, for us. I do not think he would be anything more then a developmental guy. Nothing wrong with that. I jut think we may be looking for a plug in starter.


Difference between ALL-WORLD O-line, AND NO O-line.

Someone said, You need No O-line to win.

And the O-line doesn't just help the passing game. It helps the running game.

I also said, Flacco won't see the playoffs without Ray. That Flacco will be exposed now that he is the leader of the Ravens, and Ray isn't there to motivate the troops in the 4th.

Flacco Sucks!! Admit it!!

Oh, and Nice to see you Kris. ;)

So tell me, you Dashi, you MIT, you the only other poster here, who do you like at #19, barring any move up or down in the Draft.

M.Bryant at #19.

I would also take K.Benjamin. But he should be going by then.

Another pick would be E.Ebron. If he is there at #19.

I will also trade #19 and our 2nd rd pick, to move up in the Top 10 to get T.Lewan.

DD, those guys that I put down at tackle, none of them would be day 1 left tackles - not even bitonio - who is my favourite outside of the big 4. i don;t even think Zach martin is a day one left tackle. There are only three of those guys in this draft and everyone knows who they are.

The rest would be right tackle candidates or in the case of guys after round 2 - developmental guys.

At some point your coaches need to do their jobs too and bring the best out of these guys. We may now have the right O line coach for that. We know Turner wasn't it. Never saw a unit regress so quick as our o line.

Our D comes close...

I like all these arm chair GM's LOL. Just a couple of good ones Clemons and Jones are garbage? LOL.
The DL didn't pose any pressure? LOL. Are you guys drunk, dumb moronic and thick or all 4?

Miami's DL was the 4th best in football last season via PFF. So I guess 27 other DL's in the league must suck too.
Clemons and Jones rated as the 14th best safety duo in the league it was No 2 in 2012. Yes I guess there garbage jesus christ learn the game you MORONS.
Also another good one this OT class is week? hahaha!!!!! 3 Certain LT's as rookies last year got 1 in the whole class. You could also find starting RT's in the 3rd round. CB Free Agency class is STACKED. So common sense tells you the Dolphins who have 2 fa cb's will go hard in that market since Davis and Taylor are both young and need time to develop.

Offer Grimes 3 years $21 m. If he walks away, pay Verner.

Shields should have been signed to a RFa contract last year & paid the price of a 2nd round pick.

Carrol & Patterson should be replaced by our draft picks last year. Why did we draft them? Gotta let em play & see how they are. Ireland knew CB was going to be a big offseason issue. Cheaper, younger & hopefully healthier than Patterson.

Invest in YOUNG FA lineman, not in the draft. Tanne needs some experienced, TALENTED players keeping him upright. No more time to put in developmental lineman.

Draft a bruiser RB & cut D. Thomas. RB would be solved.

Adam Beasley ‏@AdamHBeasley 2m

An indication of just how serious Paul Soliai is about pursuing his options: He's already moved out of his South Florida home.

for those of you who want to trade up and get Johnny football. Andrew lucks 40 time was faster than JM.

that sux


Last years first round was about half O-line. This draft has 2 real good LT, and 1 Good LT. Then all the other linemen should be drafted in the 2nd round or later.

From a talent perspective. I won't spend #19 on Z.Martin or another one of those other fringe first round guys. When I can get a guy like S.Henderson in the 2nd or 3rd, who will be a better pro and has a higher ceiling.

What this draft is, Is the best WR draft in the last 20 years. I will bet this draft will have the most first round WRs taken in a long time. That is what this draft is. That and J.Clowney. Best DE prospect I have ever seen. He makes J.Kearse look normal.

R.Tannehill on 1 foot is as fast as J.Manziel.

J.Manziel will be an Average QB in the NFL. He won't be separating from defenders like he did in college.

Haven't seen anything special from Sam. Other than he Gay. And runs like one.

Oscar, too early to say. I've only really analyzed the O tackles. And really if any of lewan, Matthews, or Robinson were there, they would be as steal. martin would also work but I would be pretty disappointed as I see just solid but not special.

I should be through the guards and tight ends later today and provide an opinion there. Jace Amaro was the guy who suprised me amongst the tight ends. Didn't think he would show as well as he did next to Ebron.


And benches like one, wait hold on. There are alot of muscular gay guys, so Sam lifts like a girl!

Why the hell would you draft a LT based on ceiling, when you've already drafted your "prospective franchise" qb?

Ceiling is based on "FUTURE PREDICTION". Protecting your s0-called "franchise qb", best better have an LT who's ceiling is 90% "RIGHT NOW". Or highly risk "LOING" your potential franchise qb "RIGHT NOW".

rdubs, have you seen those crossfit chicks?


He does lift like a girl.

Is it me or does he look like C.Bosh.

Sam doesn't have to tell anyone he is gay. We could tell the minute he opened his mouth.


True and then check out Mother Russia from the movie Kick @SS 2. Everybody is getting so big and strong!

Dashi I agree with you when you say if we could trade #19 and a 2nd rounder to get Lewan I would do it.

I'd get Albert, Monroe, or Veldheer. Have Lewan play right tackle for a year or two and then make the switch.

WRs lifted better than M.Sam, Pass Rusher. Cause he isn't a DE and he isn't an OLB.


Down to his lips. They look like they were designed for penis consumption

The guy that tells EVERYONE, "SUCK AND SWALLOW" calls out others for being gay. LMAO!


A.Donald is putting up some good numbers. He is a little small. But you know who he reminds me of, Geno Atkins. Those guys are 300lbs, but all muscle. He isn't a Fat DT.

Come on Sam,lets keep the good vibes going today. Lets not start fights!!


Sorry man, just couldn't resist that one. :)

I know I know..Its hard to resist.Did you watch any of the combine?

Reading this post, one would think our offense scored 35 points/game and our D gave up 40. Our D played it's a## of considering it was always under pressure to hold the other team to under 20 points. We need to resign our people and concentrate on Offense.

Kris, it was not the sacks. It was the constant pressure up the middle on every down. Run or pass. The teams you pointed out got better on the o-line near the end of the season, we got worse. When you are trying to "protect" your OLD tackles you get inside pressure and have to throw quick slants when the other team knows they are coming(see Buffalo and the Jets).

OFFENSE, what ever it takes.

To the idiot who got killed by Bill yesterday,

I have already said how I would fix the O-line. Free Agent LT, Free Agent RT, Free Agent OG.

I have always projected S.Henderson as a RT.

And last but not least you retarded idiot.(That is how stupid you are, you need to use 2 words to define your stupidity)

My point was that after the Top 3 LT in this draft, you can find linemen of equal value and with even more potential later in the draft, than those fringe first round linemen.

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