Among the “noteworthy” deals made by the Miami Dolphins thus far in Free Agency, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell is less than impressed, producing a report card of lackluster grades that would get you grounded in high school.
The “highest” grade handed out to the Dolphins was for adding linebacker Lawrence Timmons, which earned them a “C.” The analytical ESPN columnist expressed concern about the length of the contract.
“I’d be worried about committing to a second season,” Barnwell writes, “as the Dolphins have done by guaranteeing $11 million of Timmons’ $12 million total, for an inside linebacker who will be in his age-32 season in 2018. Timmons will be a much-needed upgrade on Jelani Jenkins in Miami’s nickel packages, but Timmons himself was taken advantage of at times by teams who exploited his declining foot speed.
Re-signing speedy wideout Kenny Stills landed Miami’s front office a “D+” because “$20 million in guarantees is an exorbitant sum” for “paying for the player the Dolphins want Stills to be.”
As for giving safety Reshad Jones $35 million in guaranteed money, Barnwell awarded them another “D+” while writing, “Jones is a good safety being paid like a Hall of Fame-caliber defender.” He also produced a fascinating stat line regarding Jones’ presence in and out of the lineup last season.
And for gifting Andre Branch nearly $17 million in guarantees, Barnwell slapped the Dolphins with — you guessed it — another “D+” as he was critical of the deal’s value for a player that’s going to look automatically better by the mere presence of Cam Wake and Ndamukong Suh. “Miami likely overpaid to hold onto a player whom it could have replaced at a fraction of the cost,” he wrote.
While I wouldn’t be as harsh as Barnwell with these grades, I don’t think Free Agency matters much for most teams in terms of shifting the needle. But I liked some of the team’s quieter acquisitions, like adding Anthony Fasano, arguably the top blocking tight end in football, and a stout run defender in William Hayes.
Sustainable winning is built through the draft, which can be an arbitrary process despite the know-it-alls pumping out mock drafts on a weekly basis. An elite quarterback helps too, obviously.
It’s why I wish the Dolphins would make more of an effort to stockpile picks, especially in the second and third rounds where the value is so strong. Stop trading up for the Daniel Thomases and Leonte Carroos of the world and add more darts to your arsenal.