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Thursday, January 16, 2014
Five free agents Dolphins should consider

By James Walker

The Miami Dolphins have yet to hire their general manager. However, holes remain on their roster that needs to be fixed.

With that in mind, here are five players the Dolphins should consider in free agency:

1. Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans

Why: Tate is the top projected running back in free agency who is entering his prime, and Miami's running game was ranked 26th last season. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas proved in 2013 that neither was starting material. Miller is better with fewer carries as a change-of-pace back. Thomas is entering the final year of his contract and is mostly a bust as a former second-round pick. Tate is a running back who can carry the load in Bill Lazor's new West Coast-style offense.

2. Branden Albert, LT, Kansas City Chiefs

Why: The Dolphins had a chance to land Albert from the Chiefs last season. Kansas City drafted rookie offensive tackle Eric Fisher with its top pick and was looking to ship Albert for a solid draft pick. However, former Miami general manager Jeff Ireland was unwilling. It was a decision that proved costly. The Dolphins set a team record for quarterback sacks allowed (58) while Albert went to another Pro Bowl. Miami's next general manager has a shot to bring Albert to Miami, but it won't come cheap in free agency.

3. Michael Oher, RT, Baltimore Ravens

Why: The Dolphins don't need just one offensive tackle. They need two. Both Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are unrestricted free agents, leaving major holes on the offensive line. A pairing of Albert and Oher would be a nice upgrade. Oher also is a close friend and college teammate of Dolphins No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace, who may do some friendly recruiting before March.

4. Jairus Byrd, S, Buffalo Bills

Why: Miami starting safety Chris Clemons is an unrestricted free agent who may not return. The Dolphins could use an upgrade at the position such as Byrd. He is a playmaker who can better pair with Reshad Jones. Byrd has made a lot of big plays against the Dolphins, and that probably doesn't go unnoticed with Miami's coaches.

5. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Why: Jones-Drew, 28, has some mileage and wear and tear. However, he rushed for 803 yards on an awful Jaguars team in 2013. The downside if Jones-Drew averaged 3.4 yards per carry last season. But Jones-Drew may still be capable of putting up numbers in the right situation. If Miami is interested, it might consider a short-term contract for Jones-Drew, who is approaching the age when running backs usually hit a wall.