11 a.m. update: Chris Bosh, who dealt with a blood clot in his calf during the All-Star break, spoke for the first time today about his condition. His statement:
“I know there have been many questions regarding my health and when I will play again. My situation this year has never been life threatening. I am feeling great and currently I do not have deep vein thrombosis. Together with the Miami HEAT, I am working with doctors, exploring the best precautionary treatment options and taking every necessary step to make sure I am healthy for myself, my family and my team. I have been working out, training with the team, watching film of the games, walking through plays, and have attended home games despite not being visible to the public. I will continue to support my teammates in every way possible. I remain positive that I will be able to return this season. I truly appreciate everyone's concern and support.”
10:30 a.m. update: If you read this post previously, please scroll down and check out what's italicized for the latest on four players who are visiting the Dolphins.
Let’s not sugarcoat here: Free agency, still in its early stages, has gone terribly for the Dolphins. Not catastrophically terrible, but terrible enough to feed into the negativity and cynicism that swirls around this franchise.
A quick recap:
### Miami coveted Adam “Pacman” Jones to shore up major deficiencies at cornerback. Instead, he re-signed with Cincinnati on the day the Dolphins cut Brent Grimes, who’s declining but was still the best Miami had to offer at the position.
In his place: Byron Maxwell, who apparently barely passed a physical, and allowed quarterbacks to post a 100 passer rating in his coverage area last season, albeit in a defense that didn’t suit him.
### The Dolphins had serious conversations with Alex Boone, hoping to land a 28-year-old who would have been a huge upgrade at guard.
They lost out on Boone, who joined the Vikings, and with the soaring price of quality guards more suitable to Bloomingdales than Target, Miami also failed to reel in any of the other top guards in free agency (Keleche Osemele, Jeff Allen, Brandon Brooks and Ramon Foster) or more-than-serviceable JR Sweezy and Michael Harris.
### The Dolphins badly wanted William Hayes to be their run-stuffing end opposite Mario Williams, which would have allowed Cameron Wake to move into a pass rush specialist role. But Hayes opted to stay with the Rams, even though Miami “tried very hard” to snag Hayes and made a “strong offer,” according to a source very close to the player.
### The Dolphins lost perhaps the two best players they’ve ever had from the hometown Canes, with the Giants and Texans snagging in-their-prime Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller with contracts far beyond what Miami was willing to pay.
Were the Dolphins correct not to match the eye-popping $17 million annual salary for Vernon and $6.5 million for Miller? Perhaps. Vernon's contract, in particular, would have been tough to stomach, and combined with Ndamukong Suh's, would have severely limited Miami's flexibility.
But it doesn’t lessen the sting of losing two of your 12 best players.
The Dolphins were interested in Matt Forte as a replacement for Miller, but he joined the rivals Jets.
### The Dolphins very much liked safety George Iloka, but couldn’t match the Bengals’ offer and instead settled for Isa Abdul-Quddus, a backup for most of his five year career, a player who hasn’t picked off a pass since Obama’s first term.
### This wasn’t a surprise, but Rishard Matthews agreed to terms with Tennessee, meaning the Dolphins lost three-in-their-prime 2012 draft picks in six hours, which is really hard to do.
Look, as someone who grew up a Dolphins fan, I don’t want to be negative. But the Dolphins keep making it so hard, so very hard, to feel optimistic, and after one day of free agency, they still have more needs than they can capably fill.
In better news, at least the Dolphins upgraded at linebacker with Kiko Alonso – provided he doesn’t keep injuring his knee -- and Quddus played competently as a late-season starter in Detroit.
And yes, Mario Williams will help, presuming he’s closer to the player who starred at defensive end for so many years instead of the one who disappeared (19 tackles all season) as an out-of-position 3-4 outside linebacker for Buffalo in 2015.
And the Dolphins did add a new backup offensive tackle, St. Thomas Aquinas and Notre Dame grad Sam Young, who started nine games combined for Jacksonville over the past two years. Young, who will make $910,000, has played seven years in the league; his other four starts were for Buffalo in 2012.
And curiously, despite adding Young, the Dolphins will host veteran starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod on a visit this week, reports CBS' Jason La Canfora.
Bushrod, 31, started six consecutive years (four with the Saints, two with Chicago), before starting only four games in Chicago last year. The Bears released him in February. He had labrum surgery in mid-February and recovery timetable is about four months, ESPN's Adam Caplan said. The Bears cut in February, citing a failed physical. Bushrod, who also had back problems last year, also is visiting Minnesota.
A look at remaining options (as of this posting) at several positions:
### Guard: The top six --- and eight of ESPN’s 12 highest-rated free agent guards --- are off the board. At least two of those four others who are still available --- Geoff Schwartz and Louis Vasquez --- are definitely possibilities here. Adam Gase likes Vasquez's skills from their time in Denver, and Schwartz has expressed strong interest in the Dolphins if Miami makes a legitimate offer.
The other top 12 guards (per Bill Polian’s list) that are still available: Manny Ramirez (who’s 33) and Mike McGlynn (who was a backup in New Orleans last season). Zane Beadles, who disappointed in Jacksonville, is also available, as are Jahri Evans and Chris Chester.
The Dolphins would have loved to add one of the high-end guards but simply got priced out of the market. They didn’t want to pay the $26.5 million over four years that Minnesota gave Boone, and certainly didn’t expect Sweezy to command $6.5 million per year (from Tampa Bay).
### Running back: In their search to replace Lamar Miller, Dolphins options include two Broncos that played for Gase (Ronnie Hillman and restricted free agent C.J. Anderson, who has a low tender), Alfred Morris, Bilal Powell, LeGarrette Blount, Lance Dunbar, Pierre Thomas, Stevan Ridley, Arian Foster, and James Starks.
The Dolphins already have shown considerable interest in Anderson, and there has been discussion internally about Morris, an FAU grad who would welcome a return to South Florida.
[UPDATE: Anderson is visiting the Dolphins today, according to a source. He has averaged 4.8 yards per carry in three seasons, all with Denver.
He started seven games in 2014 (when Adam Gase was Denver's offensive coordinator) and six in 2015.
Last season, he had 152 carries for 720 yards, a 4.7 average. He ran for 234 yards on 54 carries in the playoffs, including 23 for 91 in the Super Bowl.
If the Dolphins sign him to offer sheet, Denver would have five days to match. Denver would get no compensation if he leaves.]
Jacksonville-bound Chris Ivory (who interested the Dolphins), Doug Martin (staying in Tampa) and Forte are off the board.
### Defensive end: Losing out on Hayes was a major blow, and the Dolphins made no serious attempt to keep Atlanta-bound Derrick Shelby.
The Dolphins need a skilled run-stuffer who can share snaps with Cam Wake (and give Williams a breather), and the options are diminishing.
Top defensive ends still available: Robert Ayers, Chris Long, Jeremy Mincey, Wallace Gilberry, Kroy Biermann, Henry Melton, B.J. Raji, Cam Thomas, Mike DeVito, Antonio Smith, Jason Jones, Kendall Reyes and George Selvie.
[Thursday morning update: Ayers was supposed to be visiting Dolphins, according to Fox, but won't be, says Ian Rapoport of NFL Net. Ayers, 30, had his best season for the Giants in 2015, with 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and 41 tackles in 12 games, including 11 starts. He missed several weeks last year with a hamstring injury. The previous December, he tore his pectoral muscle but came back strong in 2015.
Ayers spent his first five seasons in Denver and last two with the Giants. Before last season, his sack totals the previous four years: 3.0, 2.0, 5.5 and 5.0. So while he's a good pass-rusher, nearing double-digits was the exception for him.
Pro Football Focus rated him the No. 8 defensive end last season and 49th against the run. If signed, Williams, Ayers and Wake would give Miami a solid three-man rotation, though there would still be questions about whether this group is good enough against the run...
A DE who is visiting, per LaCanfora: defensive end Jason Jones, the former Lion. He started 15 games for Detroit last season and had 31 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus rated him the 43rd best edge defender last season. He had five sacks for Detroit as a starter in 2014. Jones, 29, has played eight NFL seasons: four in Tennessee, one in Seattle, three in Detroit.
It's notable the Dolphins are bringing in defensive ends who are starters. They don't want Wake to have to play most downs.
### Cornerback: The Dolphins badly need to add a quality veteran to start opposite Maxwell and also could use an experienced slot corner to play ahead of (or compete with) Bobby McCain.
Best veterans still available: Casey Heyward, Prince Amukamara (has been linked to Miami), Patrick Robinson (Dolphins have inquired), Sean Smith, Antonio Cromartie, Jerraud Powers, Nolan Carroll, Greg Toler and Morris Claiborne.