As the Dolphins sift through the second wave of free agents, they are hosting veteran running back Frank Gore. Gore is at the team facility in Davie today, a source said, and could be a significant addition to Miami’s young running back corps.
Gore, a homegrown talent who starred at the University of Miami, turns 35 this spring but hardly looks like it. He’s coming off a season of 961 yards and three touchdowns on 261 carries for the Colts.
The Dolphins appear to be headed into the season with Kenyan Drake as their top running back, and the backups under contract are Senorise Perry (eight career carries) and Brandon Radcliff (zero career NFL appearances). With $2.6 million in cap hits scheduled for 2018, they are currently spending the third-lowest amount on running backs in the NFL.
They have explored other options at running back, including hosting DeMarco Murray for a visit. The Dolphins have also been linked to Denver running back C.J. Anderson, who signed an offer sheet with them two years ago but returned to the Broncos when they matched it. Denver is thought to have Anderson on the trading block.
Drake, 24, was the Dolphins’ third-round pick in 2016 and took over as the lead back last year after they traded Jay Ajayi and lost Damien Williams to a shoulder injury. In nine games after the Ajayi trade, Drake rushed for 619 yards (five per carry), had 232 receiving yards and four total touchdowns.
Gore is one of the most accomplished running backs in NFL history and currently stands fifth on the all-time rushing list at 14,026 yards. He could surpass No. 4 Curtis Martin (14,101) this season and is about 1,200 yards behind Barry Sanders for third.
He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection with San Francisco, last making the game in 2013, and has topped 1,000 yards in nine of his 13 seasons. He played for the Colts the last three years, totaling 2,953 yards and 13 touchdowns on 784 carries. Not bad considering running backs are supposed to be done when they hit 30.
That’s not exactly shocking from Gore, who has defied doubters throughout his career.
He came back from a torn ACL while playing for the Hurricanes in 2002 and ’03 and nearly hit 1,000 yards as a senior. The 49ers drafted him in the third round, and he announced himself with an outstanding second season in which he rushed for 1,695 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
His durability might be the most impressive thing about his pro career. Gore played in 196 of a possible 208 regular-season games during his time with the 49ers and Colts. He has not missed one since 2010. He’s carried the ball 3,226 times, including 261 last year (eighth in the league).
Gore should be a fairly affordable addition if the Dolphins decide to sign him. He played on a three-year, $12 million contract in Indianapolis, and the market for him now would likely be a one year at something close to that annual salary. His career earnings are estimated at close to $60 million.
Teams always feel the need to justify getting rid of a player, especially when they’re unloading them one after another like the Dolphins have been, and few explanations are more popular than the old “didn’t fit our culture” line.
These are cost-cutting moves—and they’re necessary. An intelligent fan base understands that.
The problem for the organization is that it’s hard to cut Ndamukong Suh, for example, and admit that he was a reckless signing in the first place.
It’s tough for the Dolphins to come out and say they badly misjudged what Lawrence Timmons had left in the tank when they handed him a two-year contract that was almost fully guaranteed.
It’s much, much easier to say those players were sent packing because they weren’t what Miami wants in its locker room. They didn’t fit the culture.
Jarvis Landry, a former second-round pick who did nothing but improve his stock and bail out his quarterbacks over four seasons, was dealt for a fourth- and seventh-round pick. That alone doesn’t look good on paper. They can soften it a little by claiming personality friction.
What culture is this, exactly? The culture was supposedly really good in 2016 when the Dolphins went 10-6 and made the playoffs. Landry and Suh were both part of that team. The roster didn’t change a ton going into last year.
With the exception of his inexplicable desertion of the team before the season opener, Timmons embodied everything the Dolphins wanted in their locker room. Coaches and teammates praised how hard he worked in preseason practices, some of them sounding surprised that a 10-year veteran would still go that hard.
He was serious, he was smart and he worked. Those things were true of Timmons every minute before he went AWOL and every minute afterward.
“He works every day at practice—everything he has,” coach Adam Gase said near the end of the season. “He’s been a model citizen since he’s returned. For a veteran player, I haven’t been around too many guys that don’t miss snaps in practice. He is going game-speed every day. He’s been very impressive to watch. I understand why his career has been what it’s been over time.”
It sure doesn’t sound like culture was the issue with Timmons.
When he did break the code by ditching the team, by the way, the Dolphins’ upholding of their culture was dictated by how badly they needed him back. He was suspended one week, then thrust immediately back into the starting lineup.
Suh wasn’t a fiscally responsible addition, either, and that’s not something vice president Mike Tannenbaum is likely to acknowledge publicly, particularly since he was around when the Dolphins signed him.
But that’s the start and end of the conversation about why he’s gone. The coaches couldn’t stop gushing about how dominant he was, and teammates credited him for growing as a leader. Members of the organization and local media voted him team MVP just three months ago.
When Gase was asked about Suh’s alleged improvising, he stated flatly that Suh had the license to do so because he’s so good that whatever decision he makes almost always works out. He’s so elite that they wanted him to call his own shots. That’s what they said.
Suh was only a cultural misfit if the Dolphins are rewriting their history books.
“I just think back to the spring when he came back before OTAs, of how he took the young guys and helped those guys develop and get better every day,” Gase said in December. “He had an overall goal to help those guys be factors in the season because he knew for him to be as effective as he needed to be, he has to have multiple guys that are playing well with him. He took a lot of pride in making sure those guys were up to speed.
“Every game it’s double-team and triple-team, and he still finds ways to make plays. He still finds ways to create pressure on the quarterback, especially in critical situations… He did everything he could this year to try to help us.”
Good riddance, right?
Regarding Landry, no one questioned his grit. His quarterbacks always talked about the great security he provided as a low-risk, high-reward target who had a knack for turning up when they needed an emergency option on a pass play gone haywire. Gase talked that way, too, especially in his first season as a head coach.
Landry leaves the Dolphins holding the top three spots in their record books for catches in a single season, including a league-high 112 in 2017. He averaged more than 1,000 yards per year. He led the team with nine touchdowns when the offense managed just 28 for the entire season.
But he doesn’t always run the right route. He doesn’t keep his locker tidy. He’s not great at keeping his composure.
Remember when he blew up at Gase on the sideline during the late-season loss to Kansas City? It was right after Gase called a bubble screen for Jakeem Grant on 3rd-and-24 late in the game.
Landry yelled at the coach, and he yelled back. Both of them dismissed it as a non-issue afterward. Gase implied that he thinks those kinds of confrontations are healthy and chided the media for trying to turn nothing into something.
“That (stuff) happens all the time and it’s overblown big-time,” Gase said. “(Stuff) like that happens, and unless the TV cameras catch it, nobody notices… Whether it’s players or coaches, both sides are trying not to cross a line to attack somebody, but yeah, there’s going to be some discussion and argument.
“You move on. To me, it’s never a big deal.”
Really it’s just that the Dolphins don’t think Landry’s as good as he thinks he is, evidenced by how far apart they were in contract talks, but that’s a risky thing to say. That explanation won’t age well if Landry puts together a Hall of Fame career.
It’s much safer, much easier, to pin it on something nebulous like culture.
Albert Wilson should sound somewhat familiar to people in South Florida. He was a dynamic quarterback for Port St. Lucie High School from 2007 through ’10 before going on to star at receiver for Georgia State and the Kansas City Chiefs.
If that’s a new name for anyone down here, it’ll probably become more prevalent over the next few days. Wilson is one of the Dolphins’ best slot receiver options to replace Jarvis Landry, who is being traded to Cleveland.
Wilson, 25, entered the NFL Draft the same year as Landry, but didn’t get picked. He made the Chiefs’ roster as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and has put up 124 catches, 1,544 yards and seven touchdowns in 55 games (26 starts).
Pro Football Focus ranked Wilson the No. 33 receiver in the league last season.
“He’s worked very hard the past couple of years learning the game,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said in January. “That position takes a little bit of time to get everything down. He’s done it and played well.”
He had a career year last season with 554 yards and three touchdowns on 42 receptions. He’s 5-foot-9, 200 pounds and has good enough speed to contribute in the return game, though Kansas City didn’t use him there much.
The #Dolphins have emerged as the front-runner for #Chiefs FA WR Albert Wilson, sources say, with a hotter than expected market. It’s still fluid, one source cautioned. He’s coming off a career high in catches (42) and yards (554) and would beef up the receiving group.
Wilson is likely looking for a big contract after earning $3.3 million over his first four seasons, but his market won’t climb anywhere near what Landry was seeking. He made $1.8 million last season.
The Dolphins’ current receivers on the roster who could compete for Landry’s vacancy are Jakeem Grant (13 career catches) and Leonte Carroo (10). There are other free agent possibilities worth considering, as well as quality prospects in next month’s draft.
Maybe it’s just the way this part of the NFL calendar makes the mind wander to crazy places, but Cleveland’s situation looks pretty enticing after a trio of trades to begin what could be a pivotal offseason for the laughingstock of the league.
The team that went 0-16 last year and 1-15 the season before has some pieces in place and the firepower to add many more.
The Browns now have their best quarterback in at least a decade by trading for Buffalo dual threat Tyrod Taylor and immediately supplied him with an elite slot receiver in former Dolphin Jarvis Landry. Cleveland brought those two in for the mere price of some mid- to late-round draft picks.
The Browns also picked up a decent 25-year-old cornerback in Damarious Randall to wrap up their busy Friday.
Taylor and Landry join a skill position collection that already features former all-pro receiver Josh Gordon, a 2017 first-round pick at tight end in David Njoku and running back Isaiah Crowell, who totaled more than 2,300 yards from scrimmage over the past two seasons. Taylor is the old man of this crew at 28 years old.
That group teams with an offensive line that Football Outsiders ranked No. 14 in the league last year, 16 spots ahead of the Dolphins.
Is that enough ammunition to make a run at the Super Bowl? Of course not. But it looks at least as good as what Miami has at the moment.
The Dolphins are betting on Ryan Tannehill, who hasn’t played since December 2016, to come back from two knee problems at 30 and deliver the best season of a career that’s been league-average at best. There’s a good chance they’ll draft his successor next month.
Their receiver corps has exactly one proven commodity (Kenny Stills), the offensive line has been shaky for years despite multiple first-round picks and millions of dollars being poured into it and they’re allergic to dynamic threats at tight end. They might be good at running back with Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams.
Defensively, Miami improved from awful to OK last season, so there’s that.
The idea that Cleveland might have more pieces in place than the Dolphins shouldn’t be totally jarring, even after the Browns went 0-16 last season and Miami was 6-10. Cleveland actually ranked slightly ahead of the Dolphins in total offense and total defense.
Miami had a minus-112 point differential, definitely better than the Browns’ league-worst minus-176, but still in the bottom four of the league. The gap between those two totals averages out to four points per game. Consider that Cleveland had six one-score losses, and all but one Dolphins victory came by seven points or fewer. It wouldn’t have taken much for these teams to finish with the same record.
There’s still a ton of offseason left, and the Browns are better equipped for it. They gave up a third-, fourth- and seventh-round pick to get Taylor and Landry, plus nearly $32 million in salary cap commitments, but they still have plenty of capital in both departments.
Even after paying Landry and Taylor, they have the second-most cap space in the league at $76.4. It’s still going to be a challenge to lure top players to Cleveland, but that kind of cash helps. The Dolphins, with all the holes on their roster, won’t get anywhere near that number even after the expected cuts of Lawrence Timmons and Julius Thomas.
Then there’s the draft, where the Browns own the first and fourth overall picks this year. They also have three second-rounders, giving them five of the first 64 selections. Miami has two.
Once the rosters settle, the Dolphins head back to work at what feels like a futile effort to overtake New England in the AFC East, a division the Patriots have captured in every healthy Tom Brady season since 2003. The AFC North has been far more open with no team winning it more than twice in a row and 10-6 being enough to take the division four times in the last 15 years.
The Browns put themselves in this somewhat enviable position thanks to years of hardcore tanking that’s been horrible for their fans to endure, and they’ve mishandled numerous opportunities along the way.
But is it really much worse than sitting through the last decade of Dolphins football? (These teams are 2-2 against each other during that span, by the way). Has perpetual mediocrity been a ton more fun than being the Browns? Do two playoff seasons make up for going an average of 7-9 all the other years?
The point isn’t to shame the Dolphins for being worse than the Browns. It’s that they should learn something from them. It’s time for a large-scale rebuild, and as painful as that’s going to be, it’s not going to hurt that much more than watching what this team already is.
The Dolphins have a special knack for breaking South Florida’s heart, but they’ve outdone themselves this time. Jarvis Landry is gone, headed to the Browns in a trade that will become official Wednesday and bring in a fourth-round draft pick this year plus a seventh-rounder in 2019, and this team is going to regret that for a long time.
Don’t be duped by the Dolphins’ spin as they try to justify dumping a 25-year-old who would’ve gone on to be the most productive receiver in their history. They’ll point to Landry’s uneven temperament, locker room concerns and his improvisation on the field. While there might be some validity to that, far more egregious transgressions have been overlooked.
Funny how none of those objections surfaced until it was contract time. Gase used to joke about Landry, Jay Ajayi and him being the three hotheads on the team. In his first year coaching Miami, he said flatly Landry was the best offensive player he had. There was no one he trusted more.
This is really about the Dolphins grossly misjudging what this kind of talent is worth, and that’ll prove to be a fireable offense for whoever had final say on it. They’ll realize it quickly when they see how difficult it is to replace a man who totaled 400 receptions, 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns in four years. The franchise never had a 100-catch receiver until he showed up and did it three times.
Landry wants market value—how audacious of him—and the Dolphins don’t agree with his asking price. Everything else is a footnote.
The asterisk they put on his gaudy numbers is that he did it out of the slot, as though it’s impossible to be a game-changing receiver any other way than how Julio Jones does it. Go ask Ryan Tannehill if he agrees with that.
Tannehill and the other quarterbacks didn’t seem perturbed by the improvising, either, as they threw 27.5 percent of their passes his direction. Landry was always there for them when the pocket fell apart and, in case anyone hasn’t noticed, the pocket is always falling apart around here.
In fact, Landry’s ability to change on the fly might be one of his best attributes. The Dolphins weren’t amazing at quarterback during his seasons, but he made it work. They had no tight end last year, so he morphed into one of the best red zone players in the league. The Browns are pretty excited about the improvisor they’re acquiring.
Of all the young talent Miami’s let walk out the door, this is the easiest it’s ever been to predict which side will get the last laugh. This will be an all-time regret.
Landry’s likely going to get a $60-ish million extension from the Browns and keep making Pro Bowls. Meanwhile, his old team’s going to rummage through free agency bargains and keep counting on the DeVante Parker breakout year that’s always right around the corner.
The most painful part of this for anyone who cares about the Dolphins has to be that it was so preventable. Landry wanted the millions he was due, but he was adamant that he wanted them from Miami.
He was patient about that, too. He watched vice president Mike Tannenbaum come through with a wheelbarrow full of cash in the 2017 offseason and hand it out to everyone but him.
Reshad Jones got $60 million. Kenny Stills re-signed for $32 million. T.J. McDonald, who had been with the team five months, hadn’t played a game yet and was on suspension at the time, received a $24 million extension. And the Dolphins giddily threw $10 million at a retired Jay Cutler.
They committed an additional $69 million to Andre Branch, Cameron Wake and Kiko Alonso. That means nearly $200 million in new deals circulated the locker room while Landry played the final year of his rookie deal for about $1 million without a peep.
No deal last offseason? He showed up for every second of Organized Team Activities and minicamp, maintain all along he wanted to be a Dolphin. No deal then? He reported right on time for training camp with the same message. On the eve of the season opener he said he was peace playing out his contract.
Landry wanted to win, and missing time was counterproductive. He did it the way they wanted, and now it’s fair to ask whether they misled him all along.
Why in the world were the Dolphins thinking they’d get him at a discount after dragging him through that whole process? And, by the way, they already got their discount when those first four years cost them an average of $942,000.
This must be particularly exasperating for general manager Chris Grier, who’s seen plenty of good players leave in his 12-year run with the Dolphins. He had a hand in them stealing Landry in the second round of the 2014 draft.
The sting of Landry’s departure goes beyond simply watching him keep racking up big numbers in someone else’s uniform. Think back to how putrid this offense was the last two years. Now subtract its most dangerous weapon. Get ready for a 2018 season that’s almost as thrilling as knitting a quilt.
The only way this works out in the short-term is if Gase is a secret genius who knows Stills is going to have a career year, has the cure for all that ails Parker, somehow finds an effective tight end, adds a modestly productive replacement for Landry in the slot, turns Kenyan Drake into Matt Forte and gets the best out of Tannehill at 30 years old after two knee injuries even though his favorite target is playing in Cleveland.
That’s all that needs to go right.
More realistically, this team has seriously hurt the prospect of turning things around this season and upped the chances that those who made this call on Landry will be following him out the door sooner than later.
INDIANAPOLIS–A day after saying they want him on the team this season, the Dolphins are moving forward in an effort to trade Jarvis Landry.
The team has given Landry and his agent permission to pursue possible trade agreements a source confirmed to The Post. Essentially, he is free to discuss contract terms with teams that are interested in trading for him.
NFL Network first reported the development.
With both Landry and the organization working on ways to get him to a new team, it seems more likely than ever that he is leaving Miami.
Landry would have been an unrestricted free agent this spring, but the Dolphins placed the franchise tag on him last month. That move sets him up with a one-year deal worth about $16 million.
That doesn’t finalize the situation, though. Miami still has the right to trade him, work out a long-term deal or rescind the tag altogether. Because it’s the non-exclusive franchise tag, he can negotiate free agent contracts with other teams, but any team that signs him must give the Dolphins two first-round picks to do so.
Landry hasn’t signed his tag yet, but finding a new team would entice him to do so immediately. Shortly after news broke that he was allowed to talk trades with other teams, a source told The Post he intends to sign it next week.
If the Dolphins lose Landry, either to free agency or in a trade, they’ll be letting go of one of the most productive receivers they’ve ever had. They’ll be doing so in his prime, too, at 25 years old.
Landry set an NFL record with 400 catches in his first four seasons and led the league with 112 last year to set a team record. He also has 4,038 yards, 22 touchdowns and three Pro Bowl appearances. Gase admitted losing an “elite” player like him would leave a tremendous void in the offense.
The team never cleared Williams, who missed the final five games, and he opted to have his left shoulder operated on after the season in order to tighten it up and lessen the possibility of a recurrence, a source said. The good news for Williams is that the recovery won’t keep him out of much. He could miss the beginning of Organized Team Activities, but it’s likely he’ll be back by minicamp and there’s no doubt about him being full strength for the start of training camp in July.
The real question is what team he’ll be playing for at that point. Williams, 25, will become an unrestricted free agent next month and is sure to draw significant interest. When the Dolphins had his rights as a restricted free agent last year, the Patriots brought him in for a visit.
Williams said last December he hopes to be back with Miami and added that any bad feelings about how things went in the 2017 offseason were behind him.
“I’m confident this is where I want to be,” he said. “They understand that. I’m just thinking about my shoulder right now… This is where I want to be. I’ll leave that up to the guys upstairs.”
When the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi in October, they installed Williams as the starter in aa two-back system with Kenyan Drake. In his first three games, he totaled 202 yards (5.8 per touch) and a touchdown. He separated his shoulder at New England on Nov. 26 and never made it back.
Williams made approximately $3.3 million in his first four years with Miami after making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2014. More than half of that came while playing for a $1.8 million tender last year.
With only Drake and a few unheralded young players under contract for the upcoming season, the Dolphins have the sixth-lowest salary cap total for running backs at $2.7 million. Drake is scheduled to make $910,315 this season and $1 million next year.
INDIANAPOLIS—As rumors surround the future of Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry, coach Adam Gase is adamant that he still wants him back for the upcoming season.
There was a time when it seemed Landry was an absolute essential for the team, but the two sides haven’t been close in their conversations about a new contract over the past year. The Dolphins placed the franchise tag on Landry last week, which will pay him for one year at the average of the five highest receiver salaries.
That number is projected to be around $16 million, and the organization seems willing to go through with that if it can’t work out a long-term deal or a viable trade.
“We were trying to figure out the best way,” Gase said. “We just decided to do it on that first day. We felt like that was the best thing for us for him to know that that’s there. We’ll just kind of see how this plays out.”
Gase added that he wants to keep Landry, rather than deal him or let him leave in free agency if the team takes the tag off him.
“Really, that’s why we franchised him,” he said. “We’ll just kind of see how it goes.”
Gase prefaced that desire by saying “if it works out the way that we’ve kind of looked at things,” meaning that the management team of him, general manager Chris Grier and vice president Mike Tannenbaum have a budget for what they can pay Landry and the deal needs to fit in that range if it’s going to happen.
Landry hasn’t signed his franchise tag paperwork yet, which prevents the Dolphins from making any moves with him at the moment. It also delays his chances of being turned loose to sign elsewhere, which could be an issue for him once teams start committing money to free agents March 12.
Gase declined to say how the organization’s relationship with Landry has held up during the rocky negotiations, deferring to Grier and Tannenbaum. The only real insight he offered on is that the team is willing to be patient.
“We’ve got to time for everything,” he said. “We’re not going to get in a big rush just because everybody wants to figure out what’s going on.
The number the Dolphins had in mind heading into the offseason wasn’t up to what Landry is seeking. Coming off four years in which he totaled 400 catches, 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns on a rookie deal that averaged about $900,000 per season, he’s looking for his first big contract.
Perhaps the organization hoped he would prioritize staying over maximizing his money, as Kenny Stills did last year, but that clearly isn’t happening. If the Dolphins want him to take a below-market deal to stay, Landry likely thinks they’ve already gotten their discount. His agent, Damarius Bilbo, already said he’s not taking less than he’s worth.
Spotrac calculated the market value for him of $69 million over five years for an average salary of $13.8 million, and that figure is based on what players of comparable production have gotten recently. It would be the ninth-highest average at the position this season, well behind league leader Antonio Brown at $17 million. His franchise tag number, meanwhile, would put him in the top three.
As much as it seems unlikely Landry would push into Brown’s range, the Dolphins can’t assume anything about the possible demand for him in an open market. If he isn’t committed to staying with Miami, it takes only one team drive the bidding beyond what the organization thinks it can afford.
If the team doesn’t believe it can reach a new contract with Landry, it can try to trade him or it can ultimately take the tag off him and allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.
The question for the Dolphins isn’t whether they’ll miss Jarvis Landry if he leaves in free agency. They absolutely would.
The issue, really, is how they would replace one of the most productive receivers in franchise history. It’s hard to pull 100 catches and 1,000 yards out of thin air.
On the current roster, the next in line at slot receiver would be Jakeem Grant, Leonte Carroo or Rashawn Scott. Grant is the only one of that trio to show flashes in games and he’s still viewed firstly as a return man and gadget player.
The good news for Miami is that there are decent contingency plans available via free agency and the draft. None of them are as wise as retaining Landry, who set an NFL record with 400 catches in his first four seasons plus 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns, but there are options.
The first four months of the offseason are devoted mainly to the draft, but free agency comes first. The Dolphins will have a delegation at the NFL Combine next week, and the free agent market opens March 12, about a week after the staff returns from Indianapolis.
One name that will certainly be on Miami’s list is Kendall Wright, a 28-year-old coming off a solid season for the Bears.
Wright had the best year of his career—94 receptions, 1,079 yards and two touchdowns—in 2013 when he played for the Titans under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. When the Bears needed a stopgap at slot receiver last season, when Loggains was their offensive coordinator, they signed him to a one-year, $2 million deal.
Wright rewarded that faith by putting up 614 yards and a touchdown on 59 catches. That might not sound like much, but it was significant considering Chicago had a dreadful passing offense with rookie Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback and Wright’s numbers were the best on the roster. Pro Football Focus ranked him the 40th-best receiver in the league.
With Loggains now the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator and Wright a free agent again, he’s a logical choice if the team needs to fill Landry’s spot. Whatever Wright costs, it will be far less than Spotrac’s projected market value for Landry of a five-year, $69 million contract.
Any free agent slot receiver Miami considers likely won’t be expected to play as prominent a role in the offense as Landry has. Letting him walk would theoretically be based, in part, on a belief that Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker will up their production. Stills is in the prime of his career and has been good the last two seasons, but banking on Parker’s breakout is risky. More than anything, he’s had trouble staying healthy.
Wright and Kansas City’s Albert Wilson make the most sense on paper. Beyond those two, the Dolphins would have to see if they can lure Danny Amendola away from New England (high unlikely), look at Buffalo’s Jordan Matthews or sift through a bargain bin that includes Michael Campanaro, De’Anthony Thomas, Bruce Ellington and Harry Douglas.
Wilson, 25, was a terrific quarterback at Port St. Lucie High School and clawed his way into the NFL as an undrafted receiver out of Georgia State. He’s 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, which would make him the team’s smallest offensive player after Grant at 5-foot-7, 169.
He averaged a little over $800,000 per year in four modest seasons with the Chiefs and is looking at his first real chance at an impressive contract.
He won’t be one of the top receivers in free agency, but he will draw interest after catching 42 passes for 544 yards and three touchdowns last season. PFF had him 33rd among receivers.
The alternative for the Dolphins is to look for a slot receiver in the draft, but executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum is averse to any plan that hinges on a rookie being an immediate starter. His general philosophy is to have a solid starting 22 in place before the draft.
Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk is someone who looks like he could thrive at slot receiver in the pros, but it’s possible he’ll be picked late in the first round. Barring a trade, he’d have to slide to No. 42 overall for Miami to have a chance. The Dolphins could also consider Memphis’ Anthony Miller as a mid-round pick.
Again, though, none of those moves seems smarter than sticking with Landry. The Dolphins can franchise or transition tag him beginning Tuesday and they still have three weeks to work out a new deal that would keep him in South Florida long term.
The Dolphins believe they’re set for years at safety with Pro Bowler Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald signed long term, and those two form a solid, hard-hitting duo at the back end of their defense.
Miami’s interest in free agent safeties will likely be to find a contingency in case one of its starters gets injured. The team picked up Nate Allen for that role last year, and it didn’t work out well. He struggled early in the season and was done for the year with an injury by Week 8.
As the Dolphins sift through their options, here’s who they had last year and who’s on the market this spring:
2017 Starting safeties
Reshad Jones (16 starts)
Pro Football Focus ranking: #29
2018 Contract: $11.6 million salary cap hit; signed through 2022
T.J. McDonald (eight starts)
Pro Football Focus ranking: #59
2018 Contract: $2.5 million salary cap hit; signed through 2021
Nate Allen (seven starts)
Pro Football Focus ranking: #83
2018 Contract: $3.4 million salary cap hit; unrestricted free agent
Michael Thomas (one start)
Pro Football Focus ranking: Not rated
2018 Contract: $1.8 million salary cap hit; unrestricted free agent
Top 2018 free agent safeties (and some more affordable options)
LaMarcus Joyner, Los Angeles Rams
Pro Football Focus ranking: #3
Contract Expectation: $10.6 million per year market value (Spotrac)
Eric Reid, San Francisco
Pro Football Focus ranking: #30 (tied)
Contract Expectation: $8.6 million per year market value (Spotrac)
Morgan Burnett, Green Bay
Pro Football Focus ranking: #47
Contract expectation: $9.8 million per year market value (Spotrac)
Tre Boston, Los Angeles Chargers
Pro Football Focus ranking: #22
Contract Expectation: $8.2 million per year market value (Spotrac)
Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans
Pro Football Focus ranking: #30 (tied)
Contract Expectation: Earned $5.7 million last season
Tyvon Branch, Arizona
Pro Football Focus ranking: #6
Contract Expectation: $5 million per year market value (Spotrac)
Reggie Nelson, Oakland
Pro Football Focus ranking: #56
Contract Expectation: Earned $6 million last season
Bradley McDougald, Seattle
Pro Football Focus ranking: #47
Contract Expectation: Earned $2 million last season