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Dolphins free agent profile: Should Miami bring Connor Williams back?

The Miami Dolphins have 29 players who are expected to hit free agency in March, including an offensive lineman who suffered a torn ACL during this past season – Connor Williams.

Williams, 26, originally entered the NFL as a second-round selection of the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 following a collegiate career at Texas that included an All-American season in 2016.

During his four seasons with Dallas, Williams played both guard positions, but he did lose time in just his second year due to a torn ACL and was often criticized for his penalty issues.

The Dolphins signed Williams to a two-year, $14 million deal in 2022 to be the team’s starting center, a position that he never played before. He played every single snap in his first season with Miami, but a groin injury and another torn ACL, the second of his professional career, cut his season short at only nine games played.

Williams held out from mandatory minicamp prior to the start of the 2023 season for a new contract, but he returned to the field for training camp without any guarantees.

After suffering an injury that cost him the remainder of the season and might’ve impacted his free-agent market this offseason, it wouldn’t be surprising if Williams had a sour taste in his mouth about the last 12 months.

According to Spotrac, Williams should receive a deal that’s roughly $67.68 million over five years ($13.54 annually), which would be nearly double what he was making the last two seasons.

The center has been good when he’s on the field, there’s no doubt about that, but should the Dolphins be willing to pay nearly twice their current rate for that performance? It’s up for debate.

Miami doesn’t have any depth at the position under contract right now. Liam Eichenberg filled in for a bit, but it wasn’t necessarily something the Dolphins should want to see each and every week. That plays into Williams’ side of the negotiations.

General manager Chris Grier and head coach Mike McDaniel could look elsewhere, at other free agents or a rookie coming into the league, to replace the former Texas Longhorn. It might not be ideal, but that might be the best for the team considering their current cap position heading into 2024.

Story originally appeared on Dolphins Wire