As the Miami Dolphins head into free agency next week and the negotiating period this weekend, it’s time to take a look at who can fill some of their needs during this time. Here, I’ll break down the DT position, where two of the Dolphins’ top players will hit the market looking to cash in on a big payday. Those players are Randy Starks and Paul Soliai.
According to Pro Football Focus, Soliai, who is 30, had an overall grade of 11.1 out of 526 snaps last season. He had a 7.9 run defense grade and a 3.2 pass rush grade. In 2012, he had an overall grade of 1.7 out of 627 snaps. He had a -1.0 run defense grade and a -0.5 pass rush grade. As far as injuries go, he has missed two games since 2007 — one in 2009 with an ankle injury and one in 2013 with a knee injury. With that said, he has battled ankle and knee injuries since 2009.
Starks had an overall grade of 28.8 out of 742 snaps this past season. He had a 15.3 run defense grade and a 13.0 pass rush grade. In 2012, he played 826 snaps and had an overall grade of 3.5 with a run defense grade of -6.1 and a pass rush grade of 7.8. In regards to injuries, he doesn’t have many concerns and has only missed four games since 2004.
With those grades in mind, let’s take a look at a few top free agent defensive tackles under the age of 30. These players are Pat Sims, Linval Joseph and Clinton McDonald.
Sims is 28 and played in 694 snaps this past season. He had an overall grade of 14.7 with a run defense grade of 14.7 and a pass rush grade of 9.5. In 2012, he had an overall grade of 0.0 out of 209 snaps. His run defense grade was 0.0 and his pass rush grade was 2.0.
However, he does come with an injury history. He ended the season on injured reserve in 2009 because of his forearm and in 2011 because of his ankle. In 2012, he was placed on the PUP list for the first nine weeks of the season due to his hamstring. With that said, he had no injuries this past season. He would be an interesting prospect, but his injuries do concern me a bit.
Joseph, 25, might be a name you have been hearing about lately and for good reason. This past season, he played in 596 snaps and had an overall grade of 9.9. He had a run defense grade of 9.9 and a pass rush grade of 8.0. In 2012, he played in 707 snaps and had an overall grade of 6.3 with a run defense grade of 4.0 and a pass rush grade of 1.2.
The only time he missed a game was in Week 5 of the 2013 season with an ankle injury. Joseph is young with no injury concerns and has consistent grades. He would be at the top of my list.
McDonald, who is 27, is a name that has been flying under the radar but may be a good addition to a team, especially in a rotational situation like the Dolphins have. Last season, he played in 670 snaps and had an overall grade of 11.5. His run defense grade was -2.6 and his pass rush grade was 10.1. In 2012, he played in 350 snaps and his overall grade was -0.8 with a run defense grade of 0.4 and a pass rush grade of -0.2.
Since 2009, he has missed two games – one in 2011 with a concussion and one in 2012 with a groin injury. McDonald might be a name to keep an eye on as one who will come rather inexpensive.
If I was the GM, I would look to sign Joseph to team with Jared Odrick as the two main starters and move on from Soliai and Starks because the money wouldn’t work. He is young, injury-free, consistent and productive. I would then look to my bench and the draft for another DT who can fill in during certain situations.
However, if the Dolphins cannot land Joseph, I would re-sign Starks or Solai because Sims and McDonald wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over them.