2018 NFL free agents: Ex-Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh down to three teams

Ndamukong Suh is close to finding a new home. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

Former Dolphins standout Ndamukong Suh was a late addition to this year’s free agency class and seems to be in no hurry to get his situation solidified.

Suh’s in been in touch with several teams since hitting the market two weeks ago, and NFL Network reported he is down to three choices: the Rams, Saints and Titans.

Any of those would be better for Miami than him landing in the division, particularly with the Patriots. The Jets made a big offer to lure him to New York, but he has not elected to meet with them.

Suh’s meeting with the Rams on Tuesday was apparently such a success that he canceled a scheduled visit with the Raiders the next day.

If he goes to Los Angeles or New Orleans, the Dolphins wouldn’t face him until 2020 at the earliest. Miami and Tennessee, however, play each other fairly regularly. They’ll meet in Miami Gardens this year, making it the fourth straight season they’ve faced off.

Suh, 31, played three years for the Dolphins after signing what was the biggest contract in NFL history for a defensive player at six years, $114 million. He was arguably their best defensive player all three seasons and was voted team MVP last year.

Pro Football Focus ranked him the No. 5 defensive tackle in the NFL after a season in which he had 48 tackles, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Aaron Donald, who would be his new teammate if he signs with the Rams, was ranked No. 1 last year.

Regardless of where he signs, Suh will cost the Dolphins a salary cap hit of $22.2 million over the next two seasons.

[Miami Dolphins believe tennis-related changes at Hard Rock Stadium will help future Super Bowl bids]

[Former all-pro RB DeMarco Murray to visit Miami Dolphins]

[A farewell to former Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL free agents: Dolphins risk making gigantic mistake with Jarvis Landry

Has Jarvis Landry already played his last game for the Miami Dolphins? (Getty Images)

Pretty much every comment that comes from Jarvis Landry or the Dolphins while a potential new contract is in negotiation is nothing more than posturing as one side tries to save a little money and the other pushes for as much it can get.

But there’s one statement that resonates. It’s something Landry said on the final day of the season, and the Dolphins know he’s right.

“I want to be here,” he said. “If not, I’ll find a way to be successful elsewhere.”

He will be successful elsewhere. Count on it.

Landry’s career is off to a great start, and he’s only 25. He’s going to put up many more excellent seasons. The only question is whether the Dolphins are smart enough to make sure those happen in their uniform.

Ultimately, it seems highly likely Miami and Landry will reach a deal that works for both sides, and the team still has the franchise tag and transition tag in its back pocket if necessary. But it should never come to that. It shouldn’t have even come to this.

The Dolphins need Landry more than he needs them, because there should be a line of attractive suitors for him on the open market. He’s going to get his money whether it’s here or, as he said, elsewhere. It’s far less of a certainty that Miami will be able to find another Landry.

Go ahead and nitpick him, but he’s been the most talented player on this offense. Imagine where the Dolphins would be without him. Now imagine where they could be if they keep him and add some more quality pieces rather than scouring free agency and the draft for a replacement while watching him make the Pro Bowl every year for somebody else.

Landry has more catches in the first four seasons of a career than any player in NFL history at 400, and no one else has even topped 350. He’s got 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns, including a career-high of nine last year. The Dolphins’ offense only had 28 in total, by the way.

They’ve already gotten their discount on Landry by getting all that for a grand total of $3.5 million. Now he wants to be paid like a No. 1 receiver because he is a No. 1 receiver.

Landry’s production is especially impressive considering he’s done it with Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler and Matt Moore as his quarterbacks. Tannehill’s been a league-average quarterback, no one else in the league wanted Cutler this season and Moore seems to have played his way off the team heading into 2018.

Speaking of Tannehill, it’d be interesting to hear his thoughts on Landry’s value. He’s been every quarterback’s emergency option the last few years, and Dolphins quarterbacks seem like they’re always in an emergency. Is Tannehill going to miss a guy who always seems to be open, catches 70 percent of the balls thrown his way and proved this year he can be a red zone dynamo?

Landry plays slot receiver as well as anyone in the game, but he’s also got the ability to surprise a defense by going deep and he filled the void created by Miami’s dearth at tight end by catching a league-high 18 passes in the red zone. Only Jimmy Graham caught more touchdowns in that part of the field.

It won’t be easy to find another Landry. Why would the Dolphins even want to put themselves through the headache when they can lock up the prime of his career right now?

Maybe it’s because Landry can be a handful at times. Perhaps that’s a fair criticism, but tolerance for that is always directly tied to talent. Lawrence Timmons straight up disappeared the day before a game and he was back in the starting lineup two weeks later.

For the most part, especially over the past year, Landry’s handled himself fine. Getting ejected from the season finale is his most egregious offense, and that was inexcusable. The issue isn’t that it’s such a big deal to get thrown out late in a meaningless game against the Bills, but whether Landry possesses the restraint to avoid that kind of episode when it counts.

The only other noticeable incident on the field came when he let loose on Adam Gase on the sideline late in the Kansas City game, but Gase is comfortable with that kind of work environment and dismissed the confrontation as a non-issue.

“To me, it’s never a big deal,” Gase said at the time.

Landry was also investigated for a domestic incident, but was not charged and received no discipline from the NFL. He and his girlfriend said he did nothing wrong.

In the cutthroat world of the NFL, none of those things are going to put a dent in his market value. If Miami doesn’t want to commit $15 million or so annually for four or five seasons, other teams will be lining up to do it.

Beyond that, he’s carried himself the way the Dolphins want. Specifically, he watched them rain money all over the place in free agency a year ago while bypassing an extension for him that would’ve avoided this entire miss and never caused a problem publicly.

Landry showed up for every offseason practice, reported to training camp on time and spoke positively about his relationship with the Dolphins at every turn. On the eve of the season, as he was set to take the risk of playing for about $1 million with nothing guaranteed beyond that if he got hurt, he said he was totally at peace with it and wasn’t going to let his contract status get in the way of what he or the team wanted to accomplish.

It’s time for the Dolphins to cut the nonsense and keep this from getting messier than it already is.

They need him.

So pay him.

[Pretty much every team has made a conference title game in the last 25 years, so why haven’t the Dolphins?]

[The 20 most exciting Dolphins plays ever]

[Dolphins connections on the Eagles, Vikings, Patriots and Jaguars]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL free agents: Five teams that could chase Jarvis Landry

Jarvis Landry is about to hit payday. (Andres Leiva/The Post)

The Dolphins have hit a critical point in their relationship with receiver Jarvis Landry, who is about to hit unrestricted free agency after opening his career with four brilliant seasons and proving himself as the team’s most talented offensive player.

Miami can head off any drama by working out an agreement before free agency opens in March and it has the option to franchise/transition tag him, which would bring him back for one year.

In the end, it’s highly unlikely the Dolphins let Landry leave, but there will certainly be competitors intent on luring him. Here are five teams with good reasons and resources to make a run at him:

Chicago Bears
As has been the case for most of their recent history, the Bears need a spark on offense. Bringing in a talent like Landry would certainly help second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s development, and new coach Matt Nagy will likely be pushing for the team to add firepower on offense. Chicago has ample salary cap space heading into 2018 and minimal financial commitments at wide receiver.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Landry wants to get paid and win. At the moment, Jacksonville looks like a place he could do both. Despite being an absolute mess the last several years, the Jaguars are in the AFC championship game this weekend and look like they’re forming a nice core on offense. Blake Bortles isn’t far off of the quarterbacks Landry’s played with already and he’s younger. Jacksonville also has a strong running game with Leonard Fournette, which would make life easier for Landry.

New Orleans Saints
The Saints could entice Landry with the chance to come home, play for a winner and team up with a future Hall of Famer in Drew Brees. Brees is 39, but his window hasn’t closed yet considering he went for 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns with a 103.9 passer rating last season. The Dolphins, by the way, haven’t had somebody put up yardage like that since Dan Marino.

Washington Redskins
The Redskins are all about making splashy free agent signings, and considering everyone in their power structure seems to be clinging to their job, they’re highly likely to be aggressive this spring. According to Spotrac, Washington goes into the offseason with almost $54 million in salary cap space. Whether the team retains Kirk Cousins or drafts a quarterback in the first round, Landry would be a desirable addition. The Redskins’ best receiver this year was slot man Jamison Crowder with 66 catches for 789 yards, and Landry would be a big upgrade.

San Francisco 49ers
This is a team everyone is high on at the moment, and the likely re-signing of Jimmy Garoppolo will make the 49ers a popular playoff pick for 2018. They have the most salary cap space in the league, they’re a team on the rise and they haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2014. San Francisco has one year left on Marquise Goodwin’s deal, but could get out of that for a minimal cap hit.

[Pretty much every team has made a conference title game in the last 25 years, so why haven’t the Dolphins?]

[The 20 most exciting Dolphins plays ever]

[Dolphins connections on the Eagles, Vikings, Patriots and Jaguars]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Free agents? NFL Draft? A look at what Dolphins need on offensive line

Mike Pouncey will be around, but who else will the Dolphins stack on their offensive line in 2018? (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

Nothing is less thrilling than the idea of the Dolphins drafting another offensive lineman, or scouring free agency for one, but all the flash and flair of Adam Gase’s offense won’t matter if they don’t get this right.

The frustration in 2016 was that the line they sketched out and liked coming into the season couldn’t stay healthy. Injuries were less of an issue this season, and that prompts the question of whether this group is good enough.

Left tackle Laremy Tunsil and center Mike Pouncey are two certain bricks in the wall for next season. The rest of the unit is up for a redesign.

The Dolphins have guard Ted Larsen locked up cheaply for the next two seasons and they’re high on breakout starter Jesse Davis at guard or tackle.

Right tackle Ja’Wuan James, a mainstay on the line since Miami drafted him 19th overall in 2014, is the one most in jeopardy of being shuffled out. The team activated a $9.3 million option for 2018 prior to this season, but it’s only guaranteed if he’s injured.

James went on Injured Reserve after hurting his hamstring in November and would theoretically be healthy by the time free agency rolls around in March. That gives the Dolphins a way out, and they can consider moving Davis into his spot.

James, 25, will be in demand if he hits the open market. He’s got 47 career starts, and Pro Football Focus ranked him the No. 15 tackle in the league this season after having him 32nd the year before. Miami moving on from him would likely have more to do with money than anything else. He would currently be the seventh-biggest salary cap hit for next season.

That said, Gase wasn’t exact glowing when he discussed James’ play leading up to being shelved.

“Ja’Wuan’s had some really good games, and then he’s had some games where I’m sure he would say he wished he would have played a little better,” he said. “Pouncey’s the only one I can say every game, I’m seeing a lot of things that are good.”

When pressed to at least confirm that James was improved from the previous season, Gase gave a tepid response of, ““I think he’s had some games that were head and shoulders better than any games that he had last year. There were probably about three games that I can say that were really, really outstanding.”

Beyond those five, have developmental projects in tackle Eric Smith, guard Isaac Asiata and tackle Zach Sterup. They can also bring back veteran back-ups Sam Young (six starts at right tackle last year), Anthony Steen (six at guard) and Jake Brendel (16 games).

Jermon Bushrod was also a fixture on the line the last two seasons before injuring his foot in November. He considered retirement after 2016 and said recently he is undecided on whether he’ll try to return for a 12th NFL season.

Once the Dolphins settle on what they believe are the reliable pieces of the o-line for 2018, they can explore help via free agency in March and the draft in April.

If the Dolphins take an offensive lineman at No. 11, it will be the fourth time in eight years they’ve done so. That, along with some massive financial commitments, makes it all the more maddening that it remains an issue.

One of the best offensive linemen in this year’s draft is Notre Dame product Quenton Nelson, who checks in at 6-foot-5, 330 pounds and could be the missing piece at left guard. Miami could move Larsen to right guard, which he wants, and go with Davis at right tackle.

The free agency crop will fluctuate based on who gets released over the next month or so, but some of the current options at guard are Seattle’s Luke Joeckel, Washington’s Shawn Lauvao and Cincinnati’s Andre Smith. Those guys are likely going to outprice the Dolphins, leaving them to consider the draft or an in-house solution.

[Possible Dolphins 2018 NFL Draft target Baker Mayfield cleared for NFL Combine]

[What does Las Vegas think of the Dolphins’ chances in 2018?]

[Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry is headed to the Pro Bowl]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Dolphins coach Adam Gase calls Jarvis Landry outburst embarrassing

Jarvis Landry had a bad blowup in the Buffalo game. (Getty Images)

DAVIE—Dolphins coach Adam Gase is usually first in line to defend his players, especially the core group, but he’s not about to excuse what Jarvis Landry did to get ejected in the season finale.

Gase was thoroughly irritated by Landry, who ignited a brawl by charging at Bills safety Jordan Poyer, headbutting him and hitting him in the facemask. Landry compounded that by verbally abusing an official, which led to him being thrown out.

“I think that was the pinnacle of what I’ve ever seen with him during a game,” Gase said today. “I know there’s been times where some of those guys kind of got in the mix a little bit, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it get to a level where it was extremely bad. Last game, that was about as embarrassing as I’ve seen in a long time. It’s just something that we can’t have happen.

“Whether people think we weren’t in the game or it was garbage time or whatever it was, all I know is we were in the game and we’re going on our last drive of the game and two of our best players on offense aren’t in there. That was very, very frustrating to watch and standing there, not being able to do anything. We need way better control from our best players in the heat of the moment.”

Running back Kenyan Drake was also ejected after he took a Buffalo helmet and threw it 20 yards. He spoke about the incident Monday and admitted it was “stupid” to lose his composure and get tossed.

Landry blamed Poyer for putting his hands in his facemask and grabbing his neck and called his own actions “defending myself.” He also denied disrespecting the official, though Gase said in his post-game press conference that he did.

Landry not only took himself out of Miami’s final two possessions of a 22-16 loss, he also prevented himself from polishing off an exceptional season. He finished with 112 catches, 987 yards and nine touchdowns. Another 13 yards would’ve given him his third straight 1,000-yard season.

The Dolphins are at a critical point when it comes to evaluating Landry as he hits unrestricted free agency in March. After playing out all four years of his rookie contract with tremendous production at a bargain price, he’ll likely want something in the range of Antonio Brown’s recent four-year, $68 million deal.

While he might not quite reach that financial stratosphere, it will require a massive commitment from Miami to sign him to a new contract. As the team weighs whether it wants to do that, Landry’s temperament will be a consideration.

“I think you can’t take one isolated incident and overreact, but at the same time you have to make sure that you look at everything we’ve been doing over the last couple of years,” Gase said. “That’s where a lot of our decisions are made when you look at the body of work, then kind of see what direction we want to go in.”

Gase has referred to himself and Landry as hotheads, but usually portrays Landry positively when discussing his demeanor and calls him things like competitive or passionate.

The concern, however, is when he becomes so demonstrative that he loses control and his tone starts rippling through the sideline. That’s something Gase can’t tolerate no matter how valuable Landry is on the field.

[Ryan Tannehill’s 2018 return from knee injury at forefront of Dolphins’ minds]

[Miami Dolphins find a hidden giant in offensive lineman Jesse Davis]

[Longtime tight end Anthony Fasano weighs his NFL future]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Kiko Alonso re-signs with Dolphins, ready to play with Lawrence Timmons

 

Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kiko Alonso is signed through 2020. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

Kiko Alonso just wants to be in South Florida and hit people.

The Dolphins signed him to a four-year, $29 million deal today with the understanding that he likely will be moving from middle to outside linebacker. Alonso was the starting middle linebacker last season, but Miami added veteran middle Lawrence Timmons in free agency.
Continue reading “Kiko Alonso re-signs with Dolphins, ready to play with Lawrence Timmons”

2017 NFL free agents: Do Dolphins need insurance on Jay Ajayi?

Jay Ajayi took a lot of hits last year. (Getty Images)

There’s little question about Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi‘s talent at this point, but durability remains a concern.

Ajayi went from 49 carries as a rookie to 260 rushes, 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He never missed a game due to injury, but endured a shoulder problem and other issues. That put him ninth in the NFL in total attempts, which is heavy considering he totaled 31 rushes in Miami’s first five games.

With his rugged running style, the Dolphins might want to be careful about his workload. The only backups on the roster are Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake, who combined for 68 carries, unless Miami wants to explore transitioning Jakeem Grant to running back.

Most of the top free agent running backs have signed by now, but here are five options worth considering for the Dolphins:

Rashad Jennings, Giants, 31
Jennings was solid for New York last year with 593 yards and three touchdowns. He had three games of 75 yards or more.

LeGarrette Blount, Patriots, 30
The question with Blount is whether he’ll keep performing once he’s out of New England’s regimented culture. He was tremendous last year with 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns. Plus, it’d be fun having him in the same locker room as Ndamukong Suh. He could be well out of Miami’s price range if he commands the three-year, $13.2 million contract that Spotrac projects as his market value.

DeAngelo Williams, Steelers, 33
Williams was really good for Pittsburgh two years ago and did OK last season with 343 yards on 98 carries. He started the first four games of the year when Le’Veon Bell was suspended and averaged 17.5 carries and 66.3 yards while scoring three touchdowns.

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, 30
Charles’ nine-year run with Kansas City ended with two dismal seasons, and the team moved on from him this offseason. He has played eight games the last two years because of a torn ACL, but had a 1,000-yard season the last time he was healthy.

Chris Johnson, Cardinals, 31
Johnson was once the fastest man in the league, and he was still a productive running back in 2015 with 814 yards and three touchdowns on 196 carries. Last year, however, he appeared in just four games for Arizona before going on Injured Reserve with a groin injury.

[Michigan’s Jake Butt could be high value in a late pick for Miami Dolphins]

[A look at which 2016 Dolphins remain unsigned and which are possibilities to return]

[A few things to know about Dolphins free agent target Dontari Poe]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Did Miami Dolphins improve their offensive line this offseason?

Few things hurt the Dolphins more last year than Pouncey’s absence. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

One of the main issues for the Dolphins last season was the underwhelming performance of their highly paid offensive line, and they went into the offseason intent on correcting that.

After some reshuffling, Miami now goes into 2017 with the starting offensive line penciled in as left tackle Laremy Tunsil, right guard Ted Larsen, center Mike Pouncey, right guard Jermon Bushrod, and right tackle Ja’Wuan James. Counting Tunsil, who played left guard last season, there will be two new starters.

The Dolphins already accomplished one goal by cutting the price of that group. They paid $28.7 million for the offensive line last season, which was the fifth-highest in the league at that position according to Spotrac and ate up nearly 19 percent of the salary cap.

They’re currently at $20.4 million, with the main savings coming from trading left tackle Branden Albert to the Jaguars. While the Dolphins are still likely to make another move or two on the line, they rank 27th in spending.

The big question, though, is whether Miami actually made itself better.

Health will play a big role in answering that, starting with Pouncey. If he’s back for a full season, that makes an enormous difference, but that’s hard to guarantee. After five mostly healthy seasons, three of which landed him in the Pro Bowl, he missed 11 games last year because of hip problems. The Dolphins shut him down in mid-December.

There’s also a concern about how good Tunsil will be in his new position after getting just two starts there last season. Pro Football Focus ranked him the No. 41 guard in the NFL last season.

Those rankings, while not the end-all statement on any player, are troubling at both guard spots. Larsen, who signed a three-year deal after coming over from Chicago, was 44th among guards. Bushrod, who considered retiring this offseason, was No. 69. Miami will probably draft someone who can compete for a starting guard spot and/or work as the backup center. Kraig Urbik will be back, too, and he can play either of those positions.

The closest thing to sure bet in this group is James, who rebounded nicely after being benched early last season.

All the tweaks to the o-line leave the Dolphins with no more certainty than they had last season. Ultimately, they’re banking on Pouncey being back to full strength and Tunsil being the star they drafted him to be. If those don’t pan out, it figures to be another rough year for the o-line.

[Michigan’s Jake Butt could be high value in a late pick for Miami Dolphins]

[A look at which 2016 Dolphins remain unsigned and which are possibilities to return]

[A few things to know about Dolphins free agent target Dontari Poe]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

2017 NFL free agents: CB Darrelle Revis worth a look for Miami Dolphins

Revis is a free agent after a rough 2016 season. (Getty Images)

If Darrelle Revis is ready to accept reality, he could be a good fit for the Dolphins.

He is one of the most accomplished, well-paid players in recent NFL history, but last year endured a major dropoff. After making the Pro Bowl in six straight healthy seasons, he was dismal for the Jets last season and they cut him last month.
Continue reading “2017 NFL free agents: CB Darrelle Revis worth a look for Miami Dolphins”

2017 NFL free agents: Which Miami Dolphins remain unsigned?

The Dolphins still need a starting linebacker, so maybe Jenkins isn’t totally out of their plans. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins took care of their big-ticket free agents by locking up Kenny Stills and Andre Branch on new deals this month, but many players from last year’s roster remain on the market.

The most significant free agency departure for Miami to this point was losing tight end Dion Sims, whom coach Adam Gase believes has high potential. Here’s a look at which 2016 Dolphins have yet to sign elsewhere:

LB Jelani Jenkins
The Dolphins drafted Jenkins in the fourth round in 2013 and he started 34 games for them, but there were indications last year that he might not be part of the team’s future plans. That said, Miami still needs a starting linebacker unless it’s ready to hand that job to Neville Hewitt.

G Jermon Bushrod
Bushrod switched from left tackle, where he played his entire career, to right guard last year and struggled. Pro Football Focus ranked him the No. 69 guard in the league. Bushrod said at the end of the season he would either return to Miami or retire.

LB Spencer Paysinger
Paysinger was a solid backup for the Dolphins last year and filled in as a starter for three games. He had 52 tackles and two fumble recoveries while playing 56 percent of the defensive snaps.

LB Donald Butler
Miami picked up Butler during the season after Koa Misi went down, and he started five games. General manager Chris Grier said he was a great find the by the personnel department, but it appears unlikely he’d have a significant role going forward if he stays.

TE Dominique Jones
Jones didn’t produce much for the Dolphins last season, and they declined to place a tender on him or re-sign him at the start of free agency. They will likely look elsewhere.

S Bacarri Rambo
Rambo was another in-season pickup for Miami and he played nine games, including five starts. PFF had him 87th among safeties last year.

QB T.J. Yates
Nothing wrong with Yates, who actually jumped in and took a snap during the playoff game, but the Dolphins are set with their top two quarterbacks in Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore. Anyone else at that position needs to be a developmental project like Brandon Doughty.

DE Mario Williams
You already know.

TE Jordan Cameron
Cameron never got back to a Pro Bowl level in his two years with the Dolphins and announced his retirement this month after multiple concussions.

S Isa Abdul-Quddus
Miami designated Abdul-Quddus as waived/failed physical and his career is believed to be over.

[Kenny Stills says money didn’t drive his free agency process]

[Inside the Dolphins: Three good stories from Chris Grier reveal how they make their picks and why this time of year matters so much]

[Reshad Jones says Miami Dolphins “kept their word”]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.