The Miami Dolphins reportedly are expected to “aggressively” pursue an inside linebacker this offseason.
“People who have spoken to the Dolphins expect them to aggressively pursue an inside linebacker; the question is whether that player replaces Elandon Roberts or Jerome Baker or supplements both,” the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson wrote.
The Dolphins could look to make that addition through free agency, especially since the team has cleared a ton of cap space in recent days.
On Thursday, Miami restructured star pass rusher Bradley Chubb’s contract, opening up $15 million in cap space. Then, the team made two moves on Friday to open up even more space.
The Dolphins reportedly restructured the contract of veteran offensive tackle Terron Armstead, which opened up around $11 million in cap space. The team also reworked star wideout Tyreek Hill’s deal, creating $18 million in cap space.
Miami is also expected to release veteran cornerback Byron Jones on March 15, which would open up over $13 million in cap space for the team.
One of Miami’s starting inside linebackers from last season, Roberts, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The team still has starter Baker under contract, but Miami could use some help at the position.
Jackson explained a few more ways that the Dolphins could open up cap space, which could include restructuring Baker’s deal.
“Restructuring Emmanuel Ogbah or Jerome Baker could push the cap space above $40 million,” Jackson wrote.
“More room could be created with an extension for center Connor Williams, which would lower his $8.4 million cap hit.
“Giving Christian Wilkins a longterm deal, which the team wants to do, could lower his $10.7 million cap hit.”
Miami has done a good job of restructuring deals to keep key players on the roster despite their cap numbers being high.
The more space the Dolphins can open up, the better chance they’ll have to outbid potential rival suitors in free agency for a middle linebacker.
Replacing Roberts’ production won’t be an easy task for Miami. The veteran started all 17 games for the team last season, making 107 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He and Baker (100 tackles) were the only Dolphins to record 100 or more tackles last season.
The team could always attempt to bring Roberts back in free agency if it feels it doesn’t have a better option available to it.
The Dolphins finished the 2022 season with a 9-8 record, making the playoffs in the AFC. Adding more talent to the roster this offseason could help Miami make a real push for the division crown in the AFC East, something the team hasn’t won since 2008.