A look at every Miami Dolphins free agent in 2021

·7 min read

The third offseason in this franchise’s rebuild will present a few difficult decisions for the Miami Dolphins, who must figure out how to pivot off a 10-6 season in 2020.

The 2021 league year is set to begin March 17 and the Dolphins currently have 18 players scheduled to become either unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents, or exclusive rights free agents.

With Miami only having $24 million available in cap space at the moment because of the projected $20 million drop in the NFL’s spending floor, so expect Miami to make a few tough decisions on players this offseason, and possibly release a few more veterans to create cap space.

Here’s a look at every 2021 Dolphins free agent, their salary in 2020, and an offseason projection for them.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick — Earned $8 million in 2020

Despite his advanced age (39), Fitzpatrick intends to continue playing and hopes to sign with a franchise that will give him a legitimate opportunity to compete for the team’s starting spot. Considering he finished the 2020 season with a 95.6 passer rating - the second-highest of his career - his play for the Dolphins proves he’s worthy of that chance. But it likely won’t happen in Miami because Tua Tagovailoa has been anointed the Dolphins starter. Look for Fitzpatrick to flirt with teams like the Redskins and Patriots during free agency, but he is a second wave free agent so he might have to wait for the other quarterbacks to settle.

Tailback Matt Breida — Earned $3,259,000

When Miami traded a 2020 fifth-round pick for Breida the expectation was that he’d compete for a starting spot, and might become an impactful playmaker. But Myles Gaskins beat Breida out in training camp, and Salvon Ahmed outperformed him during the season. Breida finished his fourth NFL season gaining 254 rushing yards on 59 carries, and catching nine passes for 96 yards in Miami. He didn’t score a touchdown in 2020. He’ll likely be signing for the NFL minimum, or something close to it.

Center Ted Karras — Earned $3 million

Karras had a decent season as Miami’s starting center, where he allowed two sacks and committed three penalties. The 28-year-old started every game, and played every single snap on offense, proving that he can be durable. But the Dolphins ranked 25th in the NFL in yards per carry last season, and the best way to improve that is to get better interior players. That’s why it is possible that Miami will look to upgrade the center spot, and might target a player in the 2020 draft if Karras is seeking a substantial raise, or a multi-year deal.

Linebacker Kamu-Grugier-Hill — Earned $3 million

Grugier-Hill contributed 21 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery last season. But more snaps came on special teams (237) than on defense in 2020 (207). If this 27-year-old returns it will likely be as a core special teams performer, which means he’ll need to reduce his base salary into the $2 million a year range, if not lower.

Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux — Earned $2,133,000

The Dolphins gave up 126 rushing yards per game and a 5.0 per attempt in the five games Godchaux started before suffering a pectoral injury that ended his season. When Raekwon Davis replaced Godchaux as a starter Miami’s defensive front tightened, and Miami’s defense allowed 112 rushing yards a game and 4.3 per attempt. Godchaux, who has started 42 games the past four years, isn’t solely to blame for the run game issues. But he’s not an impactful player, which along with his injury will likely drive down his free agent market. He’d be a better fit in a 4-3 scheme.

Punter Matt Haack — Earned $2,133,000

Haack’s 39.9 career net punt average is the best in Dolphins history. He put 26 punts inside the 20 this season, which tied him for sixth most in the league. But consistency isn’t always there for the four-year veteran, who is likely looking for his biggest pay day in the NFL. The Dolphins might prefer to start over with a rookie and pay him the NFL minimum as opposed to re-signing Haack.

Linebacker Vince Biegel — Earned $2,133,000

Biegel never got the chance to build on his breakout 2019 season, where he contributed 59 tackles, 2.5 sacks and pulled down one interception because he tore his Achilles tendon in training camp. The fact Andrew Van Ginkel emerged as a reliable starter in his absence hints he might be signing elsewhere unless it’s a team-friendly deal.

Offensive tackle Julien Davenport — Earned $2,133,000

Davenport, the lone holdovers from the Laremy Tunsil-Kenny Stills trade with Houston, started eight games for the Dolphins in 2019. But he barely played (55 offensive snaps, and 77 special teams snaps) because of youth movement Miami placed on the offensive line last offseason. It is possible he could return as a backup for a salary close to the league minimum.

Linebacker Elandon Roberts — Earned $2 million

Roberts contributed 61 tackles, 1.5 sacks, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble in the 402 snaps he played as Miami’s second inside linebacker before suffering what appears to be a serious knee injury that required surgery in December. The injury will likely hinder his ability to get a multi-year deal in the free agent market, which could lead to him signing another one-year deal with the Dolphins.

Safety Kavon Frazier — Earned $910,000

Frazier emerged as the Dolphins’ special teams captain, which means Miami’s third phase of the game relied on his leadership. But he played 48 snaps on defense, contributing six tackles in the 15 games he played. Wherever he signs it will likely be for the NFL minimum.

Tailback De’Andre Washington — Earned $910,000

Washington got 28 carries in three games after joining the Dolphins via trade, which required the Dolphins to swap a 2021 sixth-round pick for a 2021 seventh-round pick with the Kansas City Chiefs. He averaged 3.1 yards per attempt in Miami, but possesses the physical running style the Dolphins backfield lacked, so it is possible he might be re-signed for the NFL minimum and carried into camp.

Offensive tackle Adam Pankey — Earned $825,000

Pankey, who is a restricted free agent, is a talented developmental player. But Miami will likely release him instead of placing the restricted free agent tender worth $2.1 million on the third-year lineman. It’s possible they can re-sign the 27-year-old for much less as a free agent.

Receiver Mack Hollins — Earned $825,000

His three healthy NFL seasons has shown the world Hollins is an average NFL receiver, but he’s a dynamic gunner, and was Miami’s best special teams contributor in 2020. His ability in that role alone will keep him in the NFL for many years. Whether its with the Dolphins depends on the contracts he’s offered, and how much he wants to play on offense.

Receiver Isaiah Ford — Earned $750,000

This 2017 seventh-round pick has had quite a journey with the Dolphins. He’s battled injuries. Worked his way up from the practice squad multiple times, emerging as a reliable slot receiver. He’s also been traded to New England, and returned a month later after his release. It’s possible Ford can re-sign, but he’d probably benefit from a fresh start elsewhere.

Exclusive Right Free agents

Cornerbacks Nik Needham, Jomal Wiltz, linebacker Calvin Munson and quarterback Jake Rudock are exclusive rights free agents, which means the Dolphins will pay the four veterans the third-year minimum salary of $850,000 in 2021 if they want each player to return.