As training camp quickly approaches, teams begin to carve out spots for their rookie classes, trimming the excess fat of their current rosters. AKA: The second round of the free agent frenzy is now in full effect.
After the Passover of May 12th — which now negates the comp pick formula, meaning free agents will no longer play into the equation of determining draft compensation — the signing of remaining free agents should become a fast and furious race for teams to land the remainder of quality starters.
The Dolphins, under new head coach Adam Gase, seem to have a realistic idea of how the new staff plans to mold their 90-man roster — going offensively heavy in the 2016 draft. That being said, with holes still remaining in crucial and key areas, that doesn’t mean the Miami Dolphins won’t seek a veteran camp presence.
With recent cuts like CB Brandon Boykin, and DE Greg Hardy still looking for work, we’ll take a look at the five free-agents who may be getting a call from Stephen Ross in the near future.
5.) OLB Mike Neal
Mike Neal’s struggles as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense caused the Green Bay Packers to pass over the 28-year old veteran this offseason. The good news? Neal is healthy — playing in all 16 games last year with 15 starts, recording 36 tackles and four sacks. With little to no contact with teams around the league, Neal is a low-cap linebacker who could be used in pass rushing situations, and production against the run in the Dolphins’ 4-3 scheme.
4.) DE Dwight Freeney.
Signing with the Arizona Cardinals in October of 2015, the 35-year-old veteran edge rusher made the most of his 11 games played last season. As a rotation player for Arizona, Freeney lead the Cardinals with eight sacks on 318 snaps, (Olivier Vernon had 7.5 sacks in 977 snaps last season) while also being a vocal leader on defense. Freeney has stated on multiple occasions that he would like to play again in 2016, and while at 36-years old the fourteen year veteran may not be the elite pass rusher he once was, adding another veteran leader in Miami could make for an excellent rotation while Cameron Wake heals from an Achilles injury suffered last season.
3.) RB Arian Foster
Arian Foster has played a full 16 game season just twice in his career. Marked as a true “High Risk, High Reward” signing, one giant problem of Arian Foster’s career has been the volume in which Foster carried the ball in Houston. Since 2010, only Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch has seen the same amount of carries as Foster, which comes as a shock considering the amount of time Foster has spent off-the-field. Foster is still recovering from injury and has already been in contact with the Dolphins’ who brought the veteran in earlier this year. If healthy, Foster is still a dynamic back who in a run by committee offensive, could greatly improve the Dolphins’ unproven backfield.
2). CB Brandon Boykin
A lot has changed for Brandon Boykin since 2015– when rumors surfaced that the Dolphins’ were interested in trading for the then Philadelphia Eagles CB. Once considered to be among the elite slot corners in the NFL, Boykin’s career has hit a massive decline, bouncing him from team-to-team, with the most recent one being the Carolina Panthers, who cut him just two months after initially signing him. Regardless of why Boykin was cut, with question marks surrounding the health of Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, adding the 25-year old Boykin gives the Dolphins’ a low-cost, starter quality slot corner.
1.) CB Leon Hall
Yes, Hall has slowed in recent years. That being said, he still remains among the elite slot corners in the NFL. Ranked 37th on Pro Football Focus’ top-75 free agents, Hall is a reliable, physical corner who recorded two interceptions and nine pass deflections in 14 games last season. According to Sun Sentinel writer Omar Kelly, Hall is now fully recovered from offseason back surgery, and if able to pass a physical, the 31-year old veteran re-uniting with former DBs coach Vance Joseph makes a lot of sense for Miami’s lack of depth at DB.