The difference between putting a winning team or a losing team on the field in the NFL often comes down to dollar and cents. Far too often, an NFL team will step into the free agency market and overpay for players, which ends up backfiring and putting the team in a difficult position for years to come.
It looks as though Miami Dolphins team owner Stephen Ross has recognized that his franchise is in the middle of a transition. After a disappointing 2015 season where the Dolphins went 6-10, it became quite apparent there are gaps to fill in order for this team to be able to compete at the highest level.
The first step was to bring in a new head coach, which was accomplished when Ross hired rookie Head Coach Adam Gase. With a significant background as an offensive coordinator, fans can expect to see improvements on the offensive side of the ball. The team has already spent a good deal of the off-season looking for an opportunity to shore up an offensive line that failed to open holes for the running game while giving up plenty of openings for defensive players to get to QB Ryan Tannehill. They might also be in the market for a running back with Lamar Miller heading out of town through free agency.
On defense, the team has two holes to fill. First, they need an impact pass rusher on the front line. They might get the opportunity to fill that gap by drafting Clemson DE Shaq Lawson in the first round with the 13th overall pick. That would leave the team in need of a cover cornerback. One player who might be on the team's radar is Leon Hall, a free agent currently with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hall, a former 2nd-team All Pro (2009), has spent his entire 9-year career with the Bengals. During that time, he has been the consummate pro, putting up respectable numbers on a consistent basis. He also has an inside connection with the Dolphins, considering he played under defensive coordinator Vance Joseph when Joseph was the secondary coach at Cincinnati.
At issue is money. At 31 years of age, Hall is probably looking at his last chance to sign a lucrative contract. The fact he was paid $39 million over the last four years makes it difficult for him to settle for anything less. However, he was unable to draw much interest during the first month of free agency. For the Dolphins' part, they are most likely interested, but are showing discipline and patience as market prices are starting to drop on unsigned players.
To date, Hall has held firm on his asking price. The result has been just one visit with the Arizona Cardinals. One of the issues that might be plaguing the veteran is his propensity for injury. In fact, he has missed at least one game every year since 2010. Injuries combined with his age demands that he start getting realistic about his situation and start lowering his expectations. After 55 tackles and 2 interceptions in just 14 games during the 2015 season, he's worthy of a two-year deal at maybe $3.5-$4.0 million a year. Beyond that, teams like the Dolphins might shy away due to the desire to avoid risk. Any substantial drop in Hall's price and the Dolphins could be takers.
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