Last Thursday, Branden Albert was supposed to be released along with some of his former teammates in a move to create an estimated $20 million in Cap Room, but was retained due to trade interest. Also, last Thursday was also the day rumors began to circle about the Miami Dolphins looking to trade for a starting cornerback.
It would not be unlike Dolphins Vice President of Football Operations-- Mike Tannenbaum’s style to make a splash during the free-agency period by going after a Big Name corner. Denver Broncos CB Aqib Talib, and Seahawks CB Richard Sherman are the two names that have been mentioned as potential trade targets for the Dolphins. However, whether or not those player’s teams are willing to trade away their star corners is highly unlikely. Especially due to the fact that shutdown CB’s are so valuable in the Modern NFL passing Era. And would Miami be willing to give up a high-draft pick as well as inheriting their annual $12M+ salaries?
According to Spotrac, in 2017, Talib, 31, willing be on the books for $12M, and Sherman, 28, for $13.6M. The Dolphins certainly have the cap space to sign one of those players, but in doing so could compromise the return of WR Kenny Stills and the resigning of WR Jarvis Landry, as well as compromising the signings of other positions of need in free-agency and the draft. Not to mention Miami already has two young productive corners in Xavien Howard and Tony Lippett, who have much less of a Cap Hit and are still on their rookie contracts. Signing a Richard Sherman or an Aqib Talib would mean benching and essentially giving up on one of these young players who still has room to grow.
But if the Dolphins are truly looking for a starting CB, who says it has to be a star? And why not look to the team they are already in trade-talks with?
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a talented cornerback on the roster -- and no, I’m not talking about Jalen Ramsey(that would also mean giving up a high draft pick)-- I’m talking about former New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Amukamara, 27, is a former 2011 1st round pick, and was the #2 CB in a Jaguars secondary that was ranked 5th in pass defense according to NFL.com. The Fresh Prince(yeah. I went there) is coming off a 1-year incentive-based deal worth a total of $5.6M with Jaguars making him a free-agent in March. When healthy, he is one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL-- amassing 7 Interceptions and 45 pass breakups in his 5 years on the Giants, and 6 pass breakups with the Jags in 2016. However, staying on the field has not been his forte. Amukamara missed 25/80 games as a member of the Giants due to injury. But he had a bounce back season in 2016, missing only the first 2 games as a member of the Jaguars with a hamstring injury.
Prince Amukamara’s situation is tricky. He has connections to Tom Coughlin who drafted him in 2011, and is now the Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Jaguars who may want to keep him. On the other hand, due to Amukamara’s injury history and his upcoming free agency, the Jaguars might be disinclined to dish out the dollars to re-sign him.Another perspective is from the player’s side, Amukamara may not be interested in returning to the Jaguars and playing through, what is once again, another rebuild year for the franchise under new Head Coach Doug Marrone. The veteran cornerback may want to enter free-agency.
If the Jaguars are interested in re-signing Amukamara but Amukamara is not willing to return and play through what will most likely be another lost season, then the Jaguars will want to get something in return as opposed to just letting him walk in free-agency. This scenario would make draft-pick compensation considerably lower. Now, this is where the Dolphins come in.
If Miami truly is looking for a starting caliber corner(and I say “if”because this is all purely speculative ) like Amukamara and wants to avoid a bidding war before he hits the free agent market, then they could theoretically trade for him without giving up a draft pick/s of high value, and possibly negotiate a new deal with his agent before March 9th—the New League Year.
If all this comes to pass, Miami could be an enticing option for Prince Amukamara: a young up-and-coming team coming off a playoff appearance, a highly respected head coach in Adam Gase, and a young Ryan Tannehill who performed way better than Blake Bortles last season.