Ranking the Dolphins’ top 10 free agent signings of 2024

The Miami Dolphins are in the midst of what is shaping up to be a chaotic offseason for general manager Chris Grier. After Miami began free agency more than $50 million over the salary cap, the Dolphins had to make many tough decisions, starting with the release of eight-year veteran cornerback Xavien Howard.

The Dolphins were unable to retain numerous key players who started for them last season. Among these departures were defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, guard Robert Hunt, linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, and safety DeShon Elliott.

Despite being up against an unfavorable situation, the Dolphins were able to find some several new additions in free agency. They found a few players who will assume starting roles, and some even could be considered upgrades from what they had last year.

Here is a list of the top 10 free agent signings by the Miami Dolphins this off-season:

10. OL Jack Driscoll


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Jack Driscoll signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins after spending the last four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Miami likely sees Driscoll as a valuable rotational piece to an offensive line that saw a lot of different lineups in 2023.

Driscoll will probably serve as a backup at both the tackle and guard position. The departure of Robert Hunt makes the Dolphins thin on the interior offensive line. Miami re-signed Isaiah Wynn to fill the void left by Hunt, and also kept backup tackle Kendall Lamm.

Driscol will probably come into the season as a backup to right tackle Austin Jackson.

9. DT Jonathan Harris


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Following the departure of star defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, the Dolphins brought in a handful of defensive tackles to give them plenty of options. Former Broncos defensive tackle Jonathan Harris signed a one-year deal with Miami as part of the many signings at the position.

Harris, 27, is entering his fifth season in the NFL. He hasn’t yet earned a full-time starting role but was active for all 17 games for the first time in his career in Denver a season ago. He was listed as a starter for nine games over the last two seasons and his statistics have seen a slight uptick in that time.

Harris will have a chance to earn a full-time starting job on this defense following the departures of not only Christian Wilkins, but Raekwon Davis as well.

8. DT Benito Jones


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Another defensive lineman brought in on a one-year deal is former Detroit Lions nose tackle Benito Jones. This will be Jones’ second stint with the Dolphins, his first in 2020 and 2021 as a rotational defensive tackle.

Jones spent the last two seasons with the Lions, starting in 15 games in 2023. While he is not known for being a game changer, he is a good fit on this Miami defensive line. Being familiar with the Dolphins organization should help ease the transition period for Jones.

Jones, 26, found some success last year with the Lions. He has now put himself in a situation where he can continue to progress his playing career on a team that can certainly use him. Miami will hope Jones or one of the other defensive tackles can find success in Anthony Weaver’s scheme.

7. LB Anthony Walker Jr


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Former Browns linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. was signed to help fill the linebacker group following the departures of Andrew Van Ginkel and Jerome Baker. Walker returns home to his birthplace of Miami for his eighth season in the NFL. He played his first four years with the Indianapolis Colts, where he earned starting middle linebacker duties in his second season.

Walker Jr. spent the last three seasons with the Cleveland Browns where he remained a starter, but was slowed down by numerous injuries. He was able to play and start in 12 games for the Browns last year, but the production wasn’t quite as high as his days with the Colts.

Walker Jr. now comes to the Dolphins in what looks to be a backup role behind linebackers David Long Jr, and newly signed Jordyn Brooks. If Walker can stay healthy and perform well, there is a possibility he could earn a starting job as the season progresses. For now, the Dolphins have maintained a quality linebacking group despite being forced to cut their losses early in free agency.

6. C Aaron Brewer


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Aaron Brewer came to the Dolphins on a three-year, $21 million deal. Brewer, 26, is entering his fifth season after spending his first four with the Titans. He spent his first two seasons primarily as a backup, then earned a starting job in the last two years. He came in as a center but showcased the ability to shift to guard when needed. Brewer’s ability to be interchangeable is something the Dolphins will certainly value as they rebuild their interior line.

This signing is one that should grasp the attention of Fins fans as the future of current starting center Connor Wiliams remains a mystery. Williams was arguably the most important piece for the offensive line last season before tearing his ACL in December. The offensive line struggled without Williams in the lineup and it was clear that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa did not have the same chemistry with backup center Liam Eichenberg.

With Williams still sitting on the free agency market, Brewer was likely brought in to be the starting center to open next season. It is an imperative that Tagovailoa and Brewer develop chemistry during OTAs and training camp.

Brewer suited up for all 17 games in each of the previous two years in Tennessee. This might be a reason why the Dolphins were confident in giving him a three-year contract. Consistency at center is an often overlooked fundamental component for an offense. With Brewer’s durability, there is potential for him to find success in Miami for years to come.

5. CB Kendall Fuller


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The Dolphins have brought in veteran cornerback Kendall Fuller on a two-year deal worth $15 million to replace Xavien Howard in the secondary. Fuller will be entering his ninth season in the league with this being his fourth stop. He has spent the previous four seasons as a starting corner in Washington.

Ultimately, the Dolphins could not afford to give the Ramsey/Howard duo another year to grow due to the team’s salary cap situation. Howard was trending down in effectiveness, statistics, and durability. It became clear the Dolphins were paying for Howard’s prior accomplishments instead of what he was going to bring in the future. While Fuller might end up being a downgrade from Howard, the financial implications of keeping the latter was too much.

Fuller had an up-and-down season last year on a Commanders defense that ranked near the bottom of the league. He was credited with allowing six touchdowns and a 67.1 completion percentage by PFF. While those numbers might scare Dolphins fans, his 83.1 grade from PFF tells a different story.

The signing of Fuller should give the Dolphins some stability at cornerback while the team remains hopeful Cam Smith can develop. If depth is still a concern for Grier and the Dolphins come draft night, there is a plethora of talented cornerbacks who they might consider selecting early in the 2024 NFL draft.


4. LB Jordyn Brooks


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The Dolphins signed linebacker Jordyn Brooks to a three-year, $26.25 million deal. Brooks, 26, spent his first four years with the Seattle Seahawks after he was selected with the 27th pick in the 2020 draft. By his second year, Brooks worked his way into a starting role. He played both inside and outside linebacker during his time in Seattle.

The Dolphins found themselves in a situation where they were forced to cuts some of their existing defensive starters. One of those releases was linebacker Jerome Baker, who ironically ended up going to the Seahawks. Brooks will come in and assume a starting role on the Dolphins defense alongside fellow linebacker David Long Jr.

Brooks has proven himself a consistent tackler, recording over 100 combined tackles in each of his last three seasons. Last season, he recorded a career best 4.5 sacks on opposing quarterbacks, showcasing the ability to be effective in the pass rush. The pairing of Brooks and Long Jr should provide the Dolphins with a quality linebacker duo, so long as they remain healthy. This duo will be key in containing the opposing run game. It will also be interesting to see how much blitzing will be called under Anthony Weaver.

Another key factor in favor of Brooks is his durability. Baker suffered a knee injury against the Commanders cut his season short and was one of the many starters missing in the playoff game against Kansas City. Health history appears to be a focal point in the Dolphins free agency decisions. Jordyn Brooks has been active and started in 49 out of the Seahawks last 52 games dating back to the beginning of the 2021 season.

This is a great opportunity for Brooks to play a pivotal role on a championship contender as he attempts to maintain an upward trajectory in his playing career.

3. EDGE Shaq Barrett


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The Dolphins acquired veteran edge rusher Shaq Barrett on a one-year deal worth up to $9 million. Barrett is arguably the biggest name on this list for his contributions toward championship success with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Barrett spent his first five seasons with the Denver Broncos where he had to earn his way on the field from the practice squad. He got the chance to sit behind and learn from legends Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware as they helped the Broncos win Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers.

Barrett was finally given a chance to be a starter in 2019 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he instantly became a superstar. Barrett broke the Buccaneers franchise sack record in his first year with the team, totaling 19.5. He would continue to shine for the Tampa defense and be a key contributor to the franchise’s second Super Bowl title in the 2020 season.

Barrett was brought to Miami in the aftermath of some pass rushers departing in free agency and other suffering injuries. It’s possible Barrett will open the season in a starting role if Jaelan Phillips and/or Bradley Chubb are still working to recover.

A full-strength Dolphins lineup probably has Barrett assuming the role Andrew Van Ginkel played last season. If that comes to fruition, Barrett should be considered an upgrade even though Van Ginkel had a few dominant performances last year.

The last couple seasons have been difficult for Barrett which is why the Dolphins were able to get him at such a low price. While his tackling has remained constant, his sack numbers have taken a significant dip from his first three years with the Buccaneers. Barrett was only able to account for 4.5 sacks in 16 games last year.

Barrett backing up Phillips and Chubb could mean an elite group of edge rushers to help make up for the loss of Christian Wilkins. While the interior pass rush will certainly take a step back without Wilkins, the edge rush might have improved despite the loss of Van Ginkel. Barrett is joining a team that was top five in sacks last season. It’s a perfect landing spot for the former Super Bowl champion.

2. TE Jonnu Smith


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The Dolphins signed Jonnu Smith to a two-year deal worth $8.4 million. Smith is coming off a one-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons that proved to be his best statistical season. He totaled career highs in receptions with 50 and receiving yards with 582. His numbers from last year and entire career heavily outshine any other tight end currently on the Dolphins.

Smith spent the last couple seasons on offenses that featured multiple pass-catching tight ends. He spent 2023 on the Atlanta Falcons, sharing the position with former top 10 pick Kyle Pitts. While Smith was clearly meant to be the second tight end, his numbers weren’t far off from Pitts’ stats.

The tight end position was a glaring hole for the Dolphins a season ago as they prioritized quick passes to speedy receivers and a dominant running game. Smith adds a new element to the offense as a tight end who can be a factor in pass catching and blocking. He might already be the third most reliable target for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

The Dolphins attempted to feature a couple different wideouts as a third receiving option behind Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Unfortunately for Miami, nobody stepped into that role, making their offense predictable and sometimes stale down the stretch. Smith should be an immediate solution to this issue. He is a proven and capable veteran who had success with multiple teams.

1. S Jordan Poyer


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The best signing for the Dolphins during this free agency is undoubtedly their decision to bring in former All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer on a one-year deal worth just $2 million. The Dolphins look to have upgraded their safety group with the addition of Poyer, taking a key secondary contributor away from their division rival Buffalo Bills.

The Dolphins were probably able to get Poyer on such a cheap deal due to him having a down year in his 11th NFL season. He finished without an interception for the first time since 2016, and also allowed more receiving yards last year than the three previous seasons. The Bills likely viewed Poyer as a player on a sharp decline.

Nevertheless, Poyer looks to be an upgrade from DeShon Elliott who left for Pittsburgh in free agency. He will provide veteran leadership as Jevon Holland continues to develop and his experience should help a Miami secondary that was abysmal late in the season, especially when it came to open field tackling. Signing of Poyer is the type of move that will help widen the Dolphins window of winning the Lombardi Trophy so long as the former All-Pro still has some great football left in him.

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