The NFL’s annual scouting combine is not just the place for draft prospects to showcase their skills, it also is a breeding ground for rumors regarding the league’s upcoming free agency period. Since a lot can and will change between now and when the market opens on March 18, these rumors need to be treated carefully and as what they are: rumors. However, they can still generate at least some impression about an existence of interest.
If reports coming out of Miami therefore can be believed, the Dolphins will be in the running for multiple members of the New England Patriots’ free agency class. According to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, the team has expressed some level of interest in interior offensive linemen Joe Thuney — who is apparently being held “in high regard” in Southern Florida — and Ted Karras as well as starting free safety Devin McCourty.
Thuney and McCourty are among the biggest names to enter free agency at their respective positions, with the former possibly re-setting the guard market at upwards of $14 million per year and the latter bringing a championship résumé and considerable experience to the table. Karras, meanwhile, has the versatility to line up at all three interior line positions and is coming off his first season as a full-time starting center.
It remains to be seen how real the Dolphins’ interest eventually turns out to be, but these early rumors do not necessarily qualify as a surprise. After all, former Patriots defensive play caller Brian Flores joined the team as its new head coach shortly after last February’s Super Bowl. The natural connection between Flores and his ex-club alone makes Miami one of the more plausible landing spots for a number of possible soon-to-be former Patriots players.
The Patriots’ AFC East rivals, of course, are entering an offseason in which they have the most resources in all of football available: no other team has as much salary cap space as the Dolphins, who are projected to be around $88 million under a $200 million cap (via Over The Cap), and they also own the largest draft capital in the league. Miami is therefore projected to be spending big this offseason both in free agency and the draft.
If Flores’ club attacks the former route aggressively later this month, the Patriots’ 19-member free agency class — including 16 men carrying the unrestricted label — would be a logical place to start. McCourty has played under Flores, for example, as have linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, as well as defensive tackle Danny Shelton. One or more of them ending up in Miami when all is said and done would not be a shocker.