The Miami Dolphins have had a solid 2014 offseason so far. With the NFL Draft looming in May and the major signings of the free agency period essentially over, it’s fair to reflect upon the franchise’s offseason three weeks after the free agency period initially began.
The Dolphins have started a new era of sorts; out with the old, and in with the new. General manager Jeff Ireland and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman were fired quickly after the season ended, and they were replaced with Dennis Hickey and Bill Lazor at each respective position.
The franchise was coming off of an 8-8 season, their fifth consecutive non-winning and non-playoff season. As is the case with any other mediocre NFL team, the Dolphins had several major holes that needed to be addressed heading into the offseason. Several of the positions that needed to be upgraded were along the offensive line, at running back, at the safety positions and in the trenches on the defensive line.
Though the Dolphins haven’t had the glamorous free agent signing period that they had last year when they shelled out millions for big-name players such as WR Mike Wallace, LB Dannell Ellerbe and LB Philip Wheeler, new GM Hickey has addressed most of Miami’s key voids with smart signings.
With the exception of the signing of CB Cortland Finnegan, all of the Dolphins’ signings have been players who are in their primes or entering their primes. The Dolphins re-signed their top offseason priority in CB Brent Grimes, re-signed DT Randy Starks and signed players such as RB Knowshon Moreno, S Louis Delmas, DT Earl Mitchell and G Shelley Smith. The biggest move Hickey made during the offseason was bringing in a franchise left tackle to protect QB Ryan Tannehill in Branden Albert.
According to Overthecap.com, even after the Dolphins’ major signings of the free agency period, they still have nearly $17 million in available cap space.
Over the course of one offseason as team general manager, Hickey has addressed the starting running back position with the signing of Moreno, replaced former starting strong safety Chris Clemons with Delmas, replaced former starting DT Paul Soliai with Mitchell and has finally found a true anchor to the offensive line in Albert.
Obviously, all of the moves look great right now on paper. It remains to be seen whether or not said moves will actually result in a productive season for the team in 2014. After all, the Dolphins had what many considered the best free agency period of any NFL team in 2013, and all it resulted in was another mediocre 8-8 season.
But consider the key traits of Hickey’s offseason: Fill key voids, re-sign two of your best free agents, don’t overspend and find supporting players who will enhance Tannehill’s production and development in 2014.
Although the 2014 NFL season and beyond will illustrate whether Hickey had a truly productive offseason or not, it’s hard not to be impressed by Hickey’s first offseason with the franchise as general manager.