Grading the Miami Dolphins’ 10 Offseason Acquisitions Thus Far

Elandon Roberts New England Patriots

The early returns of the Miami Dolphins’ offseason acquisitions are in, with the immediate takeaway being the aggressive moves that have improved the team’s woeful defense.

Along with re-signing safety Adrian Colbert, the Dolphins added 10 additional players to their roster during free agency. Seven of those reside on the defensive side of the ball, moves that tend to happen after a team gives up an NFL-worst 494 points on the year.

Defensive Front-Line Maneuvers

Shaq Lawson Buffalo Bills

One of the chief reasons for that pathetic display was the lack of any real pass rushing, with just 23 sacks by the Dolphins in 2019 helping to bolster that assessment.

Emmanuel Ogbah spent only one season with the Kansas City Chiefs, but managed to be part of a Super Bowl championship squad. He offers a fair amount of pass-rushing ability on the edge, but he’s coming off a season-ending pectoral injury that limited him to 10 games.

Joining Ogbah up front will be Shaq Lawson, who comes off a solid fourth season with Buffalo. Lawson saw an uptick with his sack total and really advanced when it came to stopping opposing runners behind the line with 13 tackles for loss.

Familiar Faces at Linebacker

Elandon Roberts New England Patriots

Behind them, a pair of New England linebackers, Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy, arrive along with Philadelphia backer Kamu Grugier-Hill.

Both Roberts and Van Noy saw drop-offs in their 2019 numbers from the year before, but in Roberts’ case, an injury limited him to just three games.

The selling point for both Roberts and Van Noy was obviously Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who tutored the pair during his time with the New England Patriots. The hope is that the pair can return to its 2018 stats that saw them combine for 157 tackles.

Grugier-Hill also has a connection to Flores, having been drafted by New England in 2016.

Though he ended up getting released by the Patriots during that year’s training camp, he managed to contribute to the Philadelphia Eagles for four seasons, including their Super Bowl-winning campaign in 2018.

Secondary Matters

Byron Jones Cowboys

The final layer of the defense wasn’t forgotten by the Dolphins, with former Dallas cornerback Byron Jones and former Cincinnati safety Clayton Fejedelem joining Colbert.

While allowing 39 touchdowns through the air last season can’t be laid solely at the feet of the secondary, a definite upgrade was in order.

Colbert’s return to his collegiate home in Miami last year came in November after he was signed off the Seattle practice squad. That limited window offered hints that he could return to his impressive rookie form of 2017 if he can stay on the field.

Jones figures to move right into one corner slot, if only because of the massive amount of money it was needed to bring him to South Florida.

That total for Jones is $82.5 million over five years, largely because of his coverage skills. The good news is that the Dolphins do have enough potential in this area to keep Jones on his toes.

Fejedelem is being added primarily to aid with the Dolphins’ secondary depth and is also expected to be a fixture on special teams coverage.

Building Up the Offensive Front Line

Ereck Flowers

The trio of offensive additions feature another New England import in center Ted Karras, and former first-round selection Ereck Flowers.

Miami may only be a one-year stopover for Karras, who’s likely looking for a bigger deal next year. He managed to work his way up from sixth-round draft status to a starting role with the Pats last season, so the Dolphins may be the beneficiaries of his motivation.

Flowers is a massive presence at 6-foot-6, 330 pounds. He signed a three-year, $30 million deal and has five years of experience, despite only turning 26 later this month.

Getting Back in the Saddle

Jordan Howard Eagles

The final member of this contingent on offense is former Philadelphia running back Jordan Howard, who looks to regain the form he displayed during his first two seasons in Chicago.

Gaining over 2,400 yards during those seasons, Howard nearly broke the 1,00-yard threshold in 2018. Joining the Eagles last season, a shoulder injury limited him to 10 games, though in his four seasons, he’s rushed for 30 touchdowns.

The Grade

The Dolphins’ 5-11 season in 2019 was essentially two different seasons, with the team winning five of their last nine contests.

That wiped away some of an ugly first month that saw the Dolphins outscored 163-26, with most pundits quickly penciling them in for the first pick in the 2020 draft.

The free agent additions help fill at least some of the holes that led to the Dolphins’ trainwreck start.

With the quality of player signed, I’m giving the offseason thus far a B.

Not Done Yet

This year’s draft should also add some more talent to a rebuilding squad that isn’t likely to contend for a playoff spot. That’s despite hopes among the other three teams in the AFC East having risen now that Tom Brady has taken up residence in Tampa Bay.

Early Outlook for 2020

Until shown otherwise, New England should remain in the thick of contention, while Buffalo could be the new powerhouse after breaking a playoff drought last season.

Right now, Flores and company should be focusing on reaching the .500 mark and hoping for some luck over the course of the season. Despite the team’s improved outlook, expecting much more than that is likely too much to ask.