Here are the moves the Miami Dolphins should consider when free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 14:
Replace wide receiver Jarvis Landry: The Dolphins moved Landry, as many expected. His 400 catches over the past four seasons constitute the kind of raw production that will be difficult to replace. However, 2017 also was proof that even 112 catches from Landry at 8.8 yards per catch weren't going to kick-start the offense. The Dolphins face some tough timing here. The draft is usually not a reliable place to find immediate impact at the position -- players struggle to transition from the wide-open spaces in college to more physical play in the NFL -- and the pool of candidates in free agency isn't deep, with players like Sammy Watkins, Donte Moncrief, Paul Richardson and Mike Wallace each having plenty of question marks. It will almost certainly take a mixture of the draft and free agency, but Landry's departure means the Dolphins have to give both a long look.
Insurance for quarterback Ryan Tannehill: Dolphins coach Adam Gase said at the combine that he was "extremely excited" about the prospect of Tannehill being back as his starter. He hasn't played since December 2016 because of injuries to his left knee, and the Dolphins have spent plenty of time vetting the quarterbacks in this year's draft. Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield has specifically said he felt a rapport with the Dolphins' staff. Tannehill's contract runs through 2020, but the prospect of additional knee problems has to be considered. The Dolphins don't pick until No. 11 and there's a very real scenario where the top four quarterbacks could be gone. Unless they deal to make a move or decide one of the other quarterbacks in the draft -- Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph or Luke Falk -- is a potential starter down the road, that puts them in the market for a veteran backup who can be more than a placeholder.
Figure out Kenyan Drake's workload: New run game coordinator Eric Studesville has always gotten the most from the backs he's coached. Knowshon Moreno and C.J. Anderson had their only 1,000-yard rushing seasons with him and Willis McGahee rushed for 1,199 yards at 30 years old with Studesville. So Drake is next. The Dolphins are optimistic about Drake as their primary back. But they still need more at the position to maximize what Drake can do end-to-end in the schedule. Of the backs in the market, 27-year-old Dion Lewis leads a group of backs between the ages of 26-28 who are worth a long look. Rex Burkhead, Isaiah Crowell and Orleans Darkwa are also in that group.
Learn the lesson: Miami must look harder at players on the wish list who also happen to be 30 or older. Take a moment, breathe, and grind another round of the game video to make sure, because there is no quicker road to a season of struggle and future cap troubles than being wrong on older free agents. For the Dolphins, that list starts with Lawrence Timmons and Julius Thomas. Look to free agents in line for their second contract, rather than third or fourth. Don't skip the 30-somethings entirely, just look harder and figure out exactly what you're getting.