With free agency slowing, Yardbarker’s Chris Mueller, Michael Nania and Sam Robinson assess which team has “won” the offseason.
Best move: Signed free-agent CB Byron Jones | Under-the-radar move: Signed free-agent center Ted Karras
NANIA: Miami (5-11) overachieved in its first season under head coach Brian Flores, but it still went into the offseason with more holes than just about any other team. In turn, the Dolphins have been uber-aggressive, handing out a league-leading four contracts of $30-plus million. Normally, this level of wild spending would be worthy of criticism, but the Dolphins spent wisely on players who were deserving of hefty deals and filled crucial needs in the passing game.
Jones, the former Cowboy, signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal — the most lucrative in NFL history for a cornerback. He’s worth it. In 2019, Jones allowed the fourth-fewest yards per cover snap among cornerbacks (0.62). That was no fluke. He ranked eighth in 2018 (0.79).
Karras, a former Patriot, is quietly a nice signing for Miami. The Dolphins’ offensive line was the league’s worst in most categories, and center was one of the biggest issues. In 2019, Karras became a full-time starter for the first time, in his fourth NFL season. He struggled at the start of the season but finished strongly, allowing no pressures over his final seven games. From Week 12 on (including the playoffs), Karras earned Pro Football Focus’ seventh-best overall grade among centers. On a one-year, $4 million deal, Karras could be an excellent value.
The Dolphins also doled out a combined $70.75 million in guarantees to edge defender Kyle Van Noy (Patriots), defensive end Shaq Lawson (Bills) and guard Ereck Flowers (Redskins).
Van Noy, who played under Flores in New England, moved from linebacker to the edge in 2019, and flourished, ranking 13th at the position in run stops (20) and 20th in pressures (57). Lawson had a career year in 2019, ranking 16th of 98 qualified edge defenders in pass-rush productivity as he posted 38 pressures over 262 pass-rush snaps. Flowers benefited from a move to guard in Washington, after a poor start to his career at tackle with the Giants and Jaguars. In his first season playing guard, Flowers ranked 28th of 64 qualifiers at his position, with a 64.2 overall grade from PFF.