Dennis Hickey is not dragging his feet into his first free agency period. The new Miami Dolphins’ GM released the injury-prone Dimitri Patterson on Monday afternoon and signed safety Louis Delmas, who was recently cut by the Detroit Lions, just an hour later.
The Delmas deal is a good one for the Dolphins. It is what has become known as a “prove-it” deal. The move is a gamble for players, but we have seen it work out for guys like Brent Grimes and Michael Bennett. The signing is also a good move from the perspective that the Dolphins are landing a solid safety and still be ending the day with more cap room than they started with. The Dolphins saved $5.5 million by cutting Patterson and signed Delmas for merely $3.5 million.
The move is good for Delmas as the South Florida native gets to play for his hometown team. Not only that, but Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s rise to his current position came as the secondary coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. During his time in with the Bengals, Coyle resurrected the careers of Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker, two scrap-heap safeties whose best seasons came in Cincinnati.
Both Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons had their best years as professionals in Coyle’s system. Delmas, if he can stay healthy, has an opportunity to become the next in this line of safeties to excel in Coyle’s scheme. It could be argued that the Dolphins swapped one injury-prone defensive back for another, but the $2 million dollars in cap space that the Dolphins save with the two transactions justifies the moves.
Miami is still open to Patterson, a CB who pulled down four interceptions (same amount as Grimes) in only six games last season, returning to the team at a reduced rate.
The Dolphins still have over $35 million in cap space, and owner Stephen “the Rainmaker” Ross will be digging deep into his wallet once again to fund Hickey’s first spending spree as the Dolphins GM. As I wrote earlier, the Dolphins are expected to sign LT Branden Albert for around $9 million a year as soon as free agency opens on Tuesday.
The Dolphins are also in need of starters at three other offensive line positions — both guard spots and a right tackle. It’s likely that the Dolphins will look to fill at least two more of these spots through free agency.
The Dolphins are also in the market for a new middle linebacker and are expected to bring in at least competition for Dannell Ellerbe as the leader of the defense. Releasing Patterson also leaves the Dolphins with a hole at the boundary cornerback position opposite of recently re-signed Brent Grimes. The Dolphins are high on 2013 second-rounder Jamar Taylor, but is the player who was plagued by a groin injury in his rookie season ready to step up and start on this Dolphins team?
The bottom line is, the free safety position has been filled with the Delmas signing, but many holes still exist on the Dolphins roster. The Dolphins had a big day on the eve of free agency, but tomorrow at 4 p.m. is when the real frenzy starts.
Hickey has so far impressed with solid moves as the Dolphins’ GM. Overpaying is going to happen in free agency; Hickey just needs to make sure he overpays for the right guys to put himself in an ideal position heading into this May’s NFL Draft.