Kelly: The NFL Draft is over, but the Dolphins’ roster-building continues | Opinion

Not every one of the Miami Dolphins’ position needs were filled in the 2024 NFL Draft, and general manager Chris Grier keeps reminding us that free agency isn’t over.

“We’re always looking to add to the roster and have the most competitive roster we can to make the team better,” Grier said Saturday night after adding two pass rushers, two slot receivers, a left tackle, a safety and a tailback with Miami’s seven draft picks. “As we’ve always talked, competition is what breeds excellence. For us, we’ll keep looking post-draft like we’ve done here in the past. We’ll keep looking and talking to people and see what happens.”

Now that the compensatory pick formula is no longer a factor when it comes to signing free agents, the Dolphins could become more aggressive because it won’t harm the two third-round picks Miami hopes to land for losing Christian Wilkins and Robert Hunt in free agency.

Miami also gains $18.5 million in cap space in a month because of Xavien Howard’s June 1 release, so don’t rule out the Dolphins becoming aggressive when it comes to signing a veteran or two to fill voids as the team gets closer to the on-field work of OTAs.

Here’s a look at three positions that could potentially use some upgrading.

Offensive line

The Dolphins patched up last year’s injury-decimated offensive line by re-signing Isaiah Wynn, Kendall Lamm and Robert Jones and adding center Aaron Brewer and Jack Driscoll, who has experience playing right tackle and right guard. Miami drafted Houston’s Patrick Paul in the second round to serve as Terron Armstead’s understudy, but the odds of him competing for a starting guard role are slim because of his lanky frame and limited movement skills. That means Wynn and Liam Eichenberg should be viewed as the front-runners to start at both guard spots, and Eichenberg is likely penciled in as the backup center yet again.

Possible solution: Adding a backup interior player such as Dalton Risner or Lucas Patrick would be ideal, especially since injuries plagued the O-line last year, and for most of this decade. Risner, 28, signed a one-year deal for $4 million last September with the Minnesota Vikings, and started 11 of the 15 games he played in. He has history with O-line coach Butch Barry from their season together in Denver. That could be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on their relationship. Patrick allowed zero sacks and 23 pressures in 539 pass-blocking snaps last season (4.3 percent pressure rate) as the Chicago Bears’ starting center. He also has experience playing guard, which means there’s a good chance he will crack the unit’s top eight if he plays well in camp. The Dolphins could add either for a respectable $2 million salary that guarantees $750,000, and it would be like purchasing insurance. The one thing recent history has taught NFL teams is that they can never have too many solid offensive linemen.

Defensive line

The Dolphins have added seven defensive tackles — Teair Tart, Da’Shawn Hand, Benito Jones, Neville Gallimore, Jonathan Harris, Daviyon Nixon, and Isaiah Mack — this offseason with the hopes that maybe two to three of them might ease the departures of Wikins and Raekwon Davis, two homegrown talents who left as free agents. Problem is, all of those players being asked to complement Zach Sieler have warts, which is why their former teams let them each go with little resistance. But it never hurts to have options, and don’t be surprised if Miami continues to add front line talent that can fit Miami’s 3-4 front.

Possible solution: Calais Campbell might be 37 years old, which makes him an NFL dinosaur, but this former University of Miami standout’s ability to line up on the edge and in the interior makes him one of the most unique trench players in the league. Last season Campbell had 42 pressures and 6.5 sacks, with a 10.8 percent pressure rate, playing most of his snaps off the edge for the Atlanta Falcons. He’s stout against the run, and the Dolphins could use a talent like him to handle 500 snaps. His history with new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, and his ties to South Florida, might be the ideal selling point. The Falcons paid him $7.5 million last season, and that’s likely the ballpark price point to make Campbell a one-season rental.


Jevon Holland, Jordan Poyer and Elijah Campbell are the only veteran safeties on the roster, and the Dolphins selected California safety Patrick McMorris in the sixth round. With Holland playing on the final year of his rookie deal, and seeking a pace-setting contract like the four-year, $58 million contract extension Kyle Duggers just received from the New England Patriots, there’s a chance he could follow in Wilkins’ footsteps and price himself out of Miami. Poyer, who turned 33 this month, is beginning his 12th NFL season, and the hope is that he still has tread left on his tires. If not, the Dolphins could find themselves in trouble at safety unless reinforcements are added. Miami has experimented with Nik Needham and Ethan Bonner playing safety in dime packages, but those are temporary solutions to a position that needs a long-term answer.

Possible solution: There are nearly half a dozen free agent safeties such as Justin Simmons, Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, Micah Hyde and John Johnson still available. Simmons, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, is arguably the best left on the market, and it’s safe to assume his asking price is why he hasn’t found a new home. Last season the 30-year-old Florida native contributed 70 tackles, three interceptions and eight pass deflections and had an 89.1 passer rating allowed when targeted, per Pro Football Reference. How he would fit with the Dolphins depends on Holland’s position flexibility, and whether Miami would be willing to make Holland a nickel cornerback, or “star” defender, which has been a role he has played for time to time in college and the NFL. But Adams, who has started all 80 of the games he’s played in the past seven seasons, might be a better fit if Weaver’s looking for a physical safety that would work closer to the line of scrimmage. The Baltimore Ravens used a ton of three safety packages with Kyle Hamilton last year, and if Weaver plans to use that approach in Miami he’s one safety short.