The Miami Dolphins entered the offseason with the most cap space of any NFL team, so there’s reason to believe they could be active in free agency once the New Year comes. league launched on March 16.
It also makes sense to think that there are certain teams whose free agents they might target more than others, and those were the ones that employed the various new coaches on the Dolphins staff.
To be sure, there’s something to be said for familiarity and knowing what makes a player tick, so we’d definitely turn to the San Francisco 49ers, head coach Mike McDaniel’s former team, assistant head coach/tight ends Jon Embree and wide receivers. coach Wes Welker; the Los Angeles Chargers, former team of offensive coordinator Frank Smith; the Kansas City Chiefs, the former team of cornerbacks coach/passing specialist Sam Madison; and the Jacksonville Jaguars, the former team of quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell.
We’ve already seen the Dolphins sign “street” free agents who had spent time with the 49ers, like linebacker Daeshon Hall and wide receiver River Cracraft.
This is how Adam Gase took over as head coach and turned to former players such as Jay Cutler and Josh Sitton or when Brian Flores became head coach and the Dolphins recruited former New England players like Eric Rowe, Elandon Roberts, Adam Butler and Jason McCourty.
With that in mind, here are the best pending free agents from the former teams of new Dolphins coaches, what we would call connected free agents:
TOP 49ERS FREE AGENTS WAITING
G Laken Tomlinson – This one really jumps out because he obviously knows the pattern the Dolphins will want to use and because he’s a former first-round pick who just finished his first season in the Pro Bowl.
RB Jeff Wilson – Remember the 49ers used a committee-return approach during McDaniel’s time there in charge of the running game, and Wilson led San Francisco in rushing in 2020 when he averaged 4.8 yards per carry.
EDGE Arden Key – Dolphins fans will remember Key as the defenseman who twisted the head of Ryan Fitzpatrick at the end of that crazy game in Las Vegas in December 2020, but Key was knocked out last year with the 49ers with 6.5 sacks in a backup role.
TOP PENDING CHARGERS FREE AGENTS
WR Mike Williams – While Smith was the Chargers’ running game coordinator and offensive line coach last season, he certainly got to see Williams up close. And he saw the seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft set career highs with 76 receptions and 1,149 yards.
LB Kyzir White – Although the Chargers’ defense was very disappointing in 2021, White is having a solid year, starting every game and leading the team in tackles with 144.
Edge Uchenna Nwosu – The former second-round pick is coming off a career year where he started 15 games and had five sacks.
TOP CHIEFS PENDING FREE AGENTS
S Tyrann Mathieu – The Dolphins have good young safeties in Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones and probably won’t be looking to spend a lot of money there, but Mathieu is just special.
CB Charvarius Ward – A former undrafted free agent, Ward has been a starter for the past three seasons and has alternated good and bad seasons. Last year was good as the passer rating against him when targeted was just 79.4.
IDL Jarran Reed – The former Seattle second-round pick has started every game the past two seasons and is a very solid running defender with some rushing ability.
BEST JAGUARS FREE AGENTS ON HOLD
WR DJ Chark – Chark was considered a rising star after making the Pro Bowl in his second season in 2019, but injuries have slowed him down over the past two seasons, particularly a broken ankle that cut short his 2021 campaign after four games. But it could be worth a flyer at the right price.
G Andrew Norwell — If the Dolphins want a veteran presence on the offensive line, they could do worse than Norwell, who has 111 career starts and a Pro Bowl on his resume.
T Cam Robinson – The Jaguars used the franchise tag on Robinson last offseason and it will be cost prohibitive to do so again. Robinson has become a solid, if not elite, left tackle.