The Miami Dolphins reportedly are one of several teams with a chance to land huge free-agent prize Ndamukong Suh. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle is expected to get the biggest offseason contract in free agency this year that could start at approximately $15 million per year or more.
But Thursday's news of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots not picking up defensive tackle Vince Wilfork's option for 2015 is an interesting curveball. Wilfork will become a free agent on Monday and is a significant addition to the market at defensive tackle, which is one of Miami's biggest needs.
Could Wilfork fit with the Dolphins? He is certainly a more cost-effective option than Suh.
Wilfork, 33, is no longer in the prime of his career and can be signed on a short-term contract. The market for Wilfork will not be nearly as busy at Suh's market. An educated guess is Wilfork could garner a two- or three-year contract ranging about $5-$7 million per season. Suh will require double or even triple the annual salary and a longer-term deal.
Wilfork also is a Boynton Beach, Florida native and played his college football for the Miami Hurricanes. He knows South Florida well, and the Dolphins could provide an opportunity for Wilfork to finish his career at home. Another good selling point is Wilfork spent his entire career in the AFC East with the Patriots and knows the division well. He recorded 47 tackles for the reigning Super Bowl champions last season and still has something left in the tank.
However, there are questions about this scenario. After winning two Super Bowls in New England, does he want to play for a mediocre team like the Dolphins at the tail end of his career? Miami went 8-8 the past two seasons, and there is a huge gap between the Dolphins and Patriots. Wilfork said in the past that he does not like the rival Dolphins. There’s also the possibility that Wilfork can return to New England at a discounted rate.
The Dolphins were 24th against the run last season and need help at defensive tackle. Suh clearly is the top of the market and where Miami could start in free agency. But Wilfork would not be a bad fallback option in free agency.