NFL free agency kicks off March 18. The last position we covered was offensive linemen the Miami Dolphins should target during the first wave. This week we will dive into four players the team should consider signing if the price is right.
1. Yannick Ngakoue
Age 24 – Defensive end
8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 1 interception in 2019
Ngakoue is one of the more polarizing players on this list. He has been very clear on Twitter that his time with the Jaguars may be coming to a close.
Duval, Thank you for all the love and support. No matter where I play in the future you all are in my heart forever. – 91 pic.twitter.com/iua06DgWxN
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) January 2, 2020
This was the first of many tweets from Ngakoue. Though he said, “no matter where I play in the future,” he drafted up the following tweet on Jan. 22.
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) January 22, 2020
Ngakoue was rumored to have some doubts on signing an extension with the Jaguars, and it seems the team will not franchise tag him. The Jaguars are in cap hell because of massive contracts a few seasons ago. They could take some of the money off of their cap hit — including a major one in Callais Campbell — but it doesn’t seem likely.
Some of #Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue’s best run-stops in 2019 season, tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage: pic.twitter.com/Syk8q18Z22
— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) February 11, 2020
In this tweet from Demetrius Harvey, retweeted by Ngakoue on his account, we see a mashup of run stops during the 2019 season. In one play at the 13-second mark, Ngakoue (#91) lines up against Las Vegas Raiders tackle Brandon Parker (#75). By no means is Parker a stud at the tackle position, but Ngakoue simply embarrasses him off the snap and stops the Raiders running back about three yards short of the line of scrimmage. He sets the edge easily and is a great pass rusher. Spotrac values a potential contract for Ngakoue at $17.1 million per year for five seasons. If Ngakoue wants to be a Dolphins player and continue to avoid state income tax, general manager Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores should sign him as soon as they are legally allowed to on March 18 at 4:00 p.m. ET.
2. Chris Jones
Kansas City Chiefs
Age 25 – Defensive end/tackle
9 sacks and Super Bowl Champion in 2019
Chris Jones is one of the most dominant players on the defensive side of the ball. His versatility on the defensive line is a headache for offensive coordinators. If there wasn’t a possibility of Jones getting franchise tagged or agreeing to a deal with the Chiefs before March 18, he would be my No. 1 choice.
On this pass rush, Chris Jones has 3 Chicago OL touch him. He fights through the slide protection, splitting the guard and tackle to sack Trubisky. Jones uses his length to his advantage and is very slippery. His short burst speed is unmatched. @ArrowheadLive pic.twitter.com/0AD6P2Ua6e
— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) February 15, 2020
Watching the above video will give you a true understanding of Jones’ dominance. He fights off three Chicago Bears offensive linemen and still gets to quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. This is the kind of play the Dolphins thought they’d get from Ndamukong Suh. The memory of Suh reminds fans of the team trying to fix a bad situation too quickly. This tweet from Mike Tannenbaum tops it all off.
Chris Jones will be with the Chiefs next year. You can write that in sharpie as @theManacho would say on @getupespn with @espngreeny and @saturdayjeff. pic.twitter.com/UMIf9U9Qdq
— Mike Tannenbaum (@RealTannenbaum) February 19, 2020
Tannenbaum predicts that the Chiefs will not let Jones walk. Ironically, this should make Dolphins fans happy due to the former Dolphins exec’s poor track record as an analyst, executive vice president of talent relations and general manager. If he believes it, it must be false. Realistically, I expect the Chiefs to attempt to sign and trade Jones. This will remove a stud from their defensive line, but the team will eventually have to pay Patrick Mahomes and other essential pieces of their Super Bowl-winning roster. Once it becomes a bidding war, don’t expect the Dolphins to jump in. But for the right price, as former NBA legend Kevin Garnett once said, “anything is possible.”
3. Byron Jones
27 – Defensive back
46 tackles in 2019
The stats don’t jump out with Byron Jones. He seems to be on the outside looking in for the Dallas Cowboys. He is linked to every team under the sun on Twitter: Eagles, Cowboys, Broncos, etc. Jones is a very good defensive back and in his first season, he was seen as a steal for the Cowboys at the bottom of the first round. The Cowboys exercised his fifth-year option in 2019 and still could very well sign him to an extension.
Pay Amari Cooper
Byron Jones odd man out?
Draft Jeff Gladney”@PFF_AustinGayle on rookie CB Gladney pic.twitter.com/BkLdvy6WgW
— PFF (@PFF) February 12, 2020
This audio snippet from Pro Football Focus talks directly on why Jones could be joining a division rival. Jones is the odd man out among players who need to be signed by the Cowboys. Quarterback Dak Prescott is reportedly asking for upwards of $30 million a season and wide receiver Amari Cooper proved in Jerry World that he can be a reliable target. Who knew that once you left the Las Vegas Raiders you could prosper. Jones is set to become a free agent and the market seems like it will be flooded. I expect the Philadelphia Eagles to be the landing spot for Jones, seeing as they need a ton of defensive back help. But he would also be a great option in Miami.
4. Kayle Van Noy
New England Patriots
Age 28 – Linebacker
6.5 sacks, 57 tackles and 3 forced fumbles in 2019
Van Noy is a very experienced linebacker and has been a mainstay for the New England Patriots defense. He may command money that the Dolphins can’t afford, but he could be a key piece for the Dolphins for a few years. The reason he falls so low on the list is his age. While Van Noy is a very reliable linebacker and could be truly hitting his prime, he will be 29 years old by the time the season starts. Let’s say his market demands a three or four-year deal. Would he be the same player at 32/33 as he is at 29? It’s a risky play for the Dolphins at this stage.
Raekwon McMillan finally came into his own last season and his Ohio State pairing with Jerome Baker worked well. Add in the play from Vince Beigel, and it would be odd if the Dolphins took on Van Noy and stunted the growth of their young core. But he is a veteran presence who could help the linebackers grow off the field. If Van Noy can mentor, he could be worth it. It sounds like a move that will be talked about heavily, but not seriously.
Clarification: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story did not make clear that Mike Tannenbaum no longer works for the Dolphins.