Revisiting the Miami Dolphins’ 2021 UFA Transportation


As is the case just about every year around this time, there is a lot of excitement about the possibilities when it comes to the Miami Dolphins and the free agent market.

But expectations sometimes exceed reality, and that was certainly the case for the Dolphins last spring, as their 2021 free agent haul certainly looks less than overwhelming a year later — and that’s nice.

The Dolphins signed 10 unrestricted free agents last year, from March 18 to April 20, and those players’ contributions to the 2021 squad weren’t huge.

The 10 UFA acquisitions combined for a grand total of 19 starts in their first season with the Dolphins and it might surprise many that the one with the most starts is quarterback Jacoby Brissett with five.

Perhaps even worse, only two of the 10 players will remain on the roster when the league‘s new year rolls around on Wednesday, defensive lineman Adam Butler and tight end Cethan Carter.

Six of the players will be UFAs again because they joined the Dolphins on a one-year contract, the most notable being wide receiver Will Fuller V, and two of them – linemen O DJ Fluker and Matt Skura – never made it to regular. season with the team.

For the record, the rest of the UFA 2021 class included running back Malcolm Brown, defensive tackle John Jenkins, linebacker Duke Riley and linebacker Brennan Scarlett.

Here’s a quick rundown of what the Dolphins took away from each player last year and where they are now:


Brissett wasn’t as inefficient as many Dolphins fans would have you believe, but he wasn’t overly impressive in his playing action either (11 games, five starts). He’s UFA again and it’s hard to imagine the Dolphins re-signing him.


Brown was signed from the Rams ostensibly with the idea that he would provide a physical presence in the running game, but it absolutely didn’t work out. The most egregious and painful example came on a fourth and crucial miss late in the three-point game against Jacksonville. He’s another UFA who probably won’t be re-signed by the Dolphins.


Signed from the Patriots, Butler hasn’t had the expected impact as a passing thrower, but is expected to return after arriving in Miami on a two-year contract.


Carter was signed primarily for his special teams work and that’s how it went as he caught just two assists in 16 games. He signed a three-year contract to join the Dolphins, so he’ll be back and his blocking ability could make him a bigger contributor on offense under new head coach Mike McDaniel.


The former Chargers first-round pick was initially seen as someone who could compete for a starting job for the Dolphins, but instead landed on injured reserve with a minor knee injury and then was canceled, injured, suspended by the NFL and terminated. until not playing at all in 2021.


The biggest disappointment of the UFA 2021 class, if for no other reason than he was the highest profile acquisition. Instead, Fuller ended up playing just two games because of the remnants of his 2020 NFL suspension, because he left the team for personal reasons, and because of a finger injury that didn’t end. apparently never healed properly. Fuller is a UFA again and it’s hard to imagine him being someone the Dolphins would want to bring back — no matter how fast he is.


The veteran stoppage specialist played seven games in the first half of the season but became a regular on the inactive roster once Raekwon Davis returned from his knee injury and it’s hard to imagine coming back to Miami.


Riley made some contributions to the Dolphins, but they were mostly on special teams, although he started three games as a linebacker. He’s someone the Dolphins would consider re-signing.


Scarlett ended up playing 13 games with four starts on defense, but his contributions were minimal, which was disappointing after making his presence felt in the preseason. Like Riley, it’s not impossible he could return, although he shouldn’t be considered a priority re-signing.


The former Ravens starter thought he would replace Ted Karras as a starting center or at the very least compete for the job, but instead found himself in a backup role throughout training camp before being released and join the New York Giants.

The essential

The Dolphins went mostly for depth in free agency last season because Fuller — and to a lesser extent Skura — were about the only two who came in with hopes they would become starters.

What the Dolphins really need, however, is more front row players, so perhaps the approach this year should be to sign fewer UFAs but make them higher impact players. .

The Dolphins did that to some extent in 2020 when they signed half a dozen starters – Ereck Flowers, Byron Jones, Ted Karras, Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy.

Sure, the Dolphins were still in the midst of a rebuild at the time, and the circumstances are different — but they’re not polar opposites.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, the Dolphins need more front-row players, whether at running back, wide receiver, offensive line, linebacker or elsewhere.

Adding depth to free agency is great, but adding impact is also important, and the Dolphins clearly failed in that regard last offseason.


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