Dolphins would be wise to eye Steelers for free agent additions
The Miami Dolphins saw their 2020 season ended eight days ago thanks in large part to the Pittsburgh Steelers deciding to sit their starters for Week 17 against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns won that contest 24-22 in a decision that, had it gone the other way, would have allowed Miami to sneak into the postseason as a 10-6 wild card team. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
And now the football gods have paid out some cruel karma to the Steelers for their decision and its cost against Miami — as Cleveland came into Pittsburgh last night and nearly hung 50 points on a vaunted Steelers defense that contended with Miami for much of the season in the race to be the No. 1 scoring defense in football. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is now over, too.
The tone of Pittsburgh’s season will be much different than the one in Miami. One (the Dolphins) is a young, upstart team that arguably overachieved. The other (Pittsburgh) is a team with many critical players facing expiring contracts at the team in the red for their 2021 salary cap situation. The Dolphins would be wise to eye Pittsburgh’s cap situation. And, depending on which players hit the open market, Miami should be ready to pull from a successful Steelers program and secure some new talent for themselves.
The hallmark of a Dolphins free agent signing, according to the track record established last season, is someone under the age of 30 who can fulfill multiple roles. Ereck Flowers was capable of playing guard or tackle (in a pinch). Kyle Van Noy plays approximately five different positions. Emmanuel Ogbah can serve as an inside or outside pass rusher. Versatility is a big piece of what the Dolphins are doing.
There are a new set of team needs for Miami this offseason, but successful programs like Pittsburgh seeing this number of young talents on the chopping block will afford Miami to target at least a few of those needs via free agency.
The most obvious appeals for the Dolphins off the Steelers list?
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is one. Miami desperately needs to upgrade their pass catchers. He logged 97 receptions for 831 yards (and a paltry 8.6 yards per catch) and 9 touchdowns this season — plus an additional 13 for 157 and a score in Pittsburgh’s loss last night to Cleveland. The general sensation in Pittsburgh is that the Steelers have been bracing to lose Smith-Schuster — they drafted Chase Claypool in the 2nd-round of the 2020 NFL Draft and still have Diontae Johnson and James Washington to pair with Claypool without Smith-Schuster in the picture.
But don’t sleep on RB James Conner and nickel defender Mike Hilton, either. both are young talents that could make sense for the Dolphins as well. Free agency is approximately two months away — so Miami’s front office has some time to evaluate and strategize here. And Pittsburgh will make some personnel signings to help whittle the list, too. But make no mistake; this is a good shortlist of candidates for Dolphins add-ons this offseason.