2018 NFL free agents: Who’s left at Miami Dolphins positions of need?

Eric Ebron didn’t live up to first-round expectations in Detroit. But he’s young and athletic, two things Miami could use. The Dolphins need a tight end. (Getty Images)

The Miami Dolphins have traded for defensive end Robert Quinn, signed wide receivers Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola, signed guard Josh Sitton and traded for center Daniel Kilgore.

The Dolphins have cut defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, traded away wide receiver Jarvis Landry, cut center Mike Pouncey and lost kicker Cody Parkey. And free agency is barely underway.

On paper, it is frankly not a net-plus.

Perhaps Quinn can have a greater impact than Suh because he’s a pass rusher. Perhaps Wilson and Amendola can match Landry’s production. Perhaps Sitton and Kilgore prove sturdy, aggressive additions who actually improve the line.

These are the best-case scenarios. And, let’s be honest, the Dolphins, notably coach Adam Gase, clearly did not feel they could win big with the former Pro Bowlers sent away. Gase and Miami’s front office envisioned a turnover of the locker room as a benefit.

New blood. New energy. New chemistry.

Professionals. Leaders. Winners.

Again — this is the optimists’ perspective. We understand completely if you are disappointed that your favorite players are gone. And if you’re concerned that too much talent has been jettisoned and not enough yet added.

As the weekend kicks off, Miami is actually quite well positioned in terms of salary cap space. Executive Vice President Mike Tannenbaum has about $8 million to wheel-and-deal with, likely on a few mid- to lower-tier free agents (that’s pretty much what’s left).

We know that Tannenbaum will continue to monitor any players (running back C.J. Anderson?) who may be available in trade. And we know that when Suh officially becomes a free agent on June 1, there will be about $17 million more available to sign a free agent class and perhaps a veteran who is cut at the end of training camp.

There are a lot of ways to add contributors. And of course, hitting with the 11th pick in the upcoming draft will be critical. But Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier don’t want any gaping holes in the lineup come draft time. They would much, much prefer to draft the best available player, regardless of position (OK, maybe quarterback is the exception to this stated goal, because of its importance).

That said, here are the positions Miami would really like to target and some of the folks who are still available (as of blog publishing):

TIGHT END — Martellus Bennett, Antonio Gates, Brent Celek, Levine Toilolo, Benjamin Watson, Eric Ebron, Troy Niklas, Luke Willson, Logan Paulsen.

Comment: Anthony Fasano may retire and Miami does like A.J. Derby. The NFL draft is deep in tight ends.

LINEBACKER — Ramon Humber, Najee Goode, Marquis Flowers.

Comment: The biggest names are off the board. A lot of older players left. Let Stephone Anthony and a draft choice compete?

KICKER — Blair Walsh, Kai Forbath, Sebastian Janikowski, Mike Nugent.

Comment: Not easy to replace the well-paid Cody Parkey. But we like Walsh and Forbath.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE — Bennie Logan, Nick Fairley, Karl Klug, Shariff Floyd, Stephen Paea, Tyrunn Walker, Jay Bromley, Clinton McDonald.

Comment: Jordan Phillips and Davon Godchaux can start. And William Hayes can rotate in, but another run stopper would be helpful.

RUNNING BACK — DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles, Eddie Lacy, Shane Vereen, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Orleans Darkwa, Andre Ellington, Mike Davis, Thomas Rawls, Kerwynn Williams.

Comment: Dion Lewis would have been ideal. Bringing back Damien Williams isn’t a bad option. There are always running backs available.

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