Dolphins offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
May 23
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With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Miami Dolphins' offseason moves.

[+] EnlargeBranden Albert
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesThe Dolphins are counting on Branden Albert to help solidify their offensive line.
Best move: The Dolphins made their first offseason move their best one. On the first day of free agency, Miami signed Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert to a $47 million contract. It was a hefty price to pay, but the Dolphins were forced to do something dramatic to improve their offensive line. Miami allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks last season. Albert is one of the best tackles in the NFL and will immediately solidify protection on quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s blind side. Miami is expected to have four new starters on its offensive line this season.

Riskiest move: The Dolphins took on a pair of major medical risks in their secondary. Miami signed projected starting safety Louis Delmas and potential starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who both come with durability issues. Delmas and Finnegan have missed a combined 17 games the past two seasons with various injuries. Yet, the Dolphins are counting on both to stay healthy and provide a veteran presence in the secondary. The good news is Miami signed Delmas and Finnegan to one-year, “show-me” contracts to see if both players can stay healthy. Delmas and Finnegan will be motivated to prove critics wrong during contract years.

Most surprising move: First-year general manager Dennis Hickey was expected to make a big splash. However, Hickey had a low-key draft that surprisingly included five of eight players from non-BCS schools. The Dolphins drafted players from North Dakota State, Montana, Liberty, Coastal Carolina and Marist. Prospects such as offensive lineman Billy Turner, cornerback Walt Aikens, linebacker Jordan Tripp, receiver Matt Hazel and defensive end Terrence Fede all come to Miami with a lot to prove. Hickey proved that he is more focused on “traits” than big names. Whether that works for the Dolphins remains to be seen.

Competition is rising: The AFC East got stronger due to the offseason aggressiveness from Miami's division rivals. The New England Patriots made a pair of bold moves to sign cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. The New York Jets signed former Pro Bowl tailback Chris Johnson and wide receiver Eric Decker. The Buffalo Bills were aggressive in trading up to draft dynamic wide receiver Sammy Watkins and trading for veteran receiver Mike Williams. The Dolphins have struggled within the division. They are just 4-8 against the AFC East the past two years.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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