- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The AFC East still has one team – the New England Patriots – remaining in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the rest of the division is currently examining its rosters and trying to figure out how to improve,
This week the AFC East blog will rank and examine offseason needs for all four teams. Monday we start with the Miami Dolphins.
No. 1 need: Wide receivers
Analysis: As the roster stands right now with players still under contract, Davone Bess would be the No. 1 receiver. That's not nearly good enough. The Dolphins need to do a full-court press on wide receivers in free agency. That includes re-signing their own free-agent receiver: Brain Hartline. Miami rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill showed promise but needs quality receivers and playmakers around him to flourish and grow in Year 2. There are a bevy of quality receivers available in free agency, such as Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe. The good news is Miami has plenty of money available and should be able to make a strong push for one of these top receivers. A combination of re-signing Hartline and nabbing Jennings, Wallace or Bowe would be solid.
No. 2 need: Cornerbacks
Analysis: The Dolphins are thin at cornerback and have an interesting scenario with pending free agent Sean Smith. He’s a solid corner, but certainly not an elite corner. However, the position is a difficult one to fill and the Dolphins may have to overpay to keep Smith. It could be in the form of an extension or the one-year franchise tag. Miami will get Richard Marshall back from injury next season and still has holdover Demitri Patterson, who signed late after being released by the Cleveland Browns. But the depth is severely lacking. Miami either has to draft a top corner or bring back Smith for at least another year to be competitive at the position.
No. 3 need: Offensive line
Analysis: Most of this need centers around what the Dolphins will do with former Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long. If Miami decided to make Long one of the highest-paid linemen in the NFL, then the Dolphins have their offensive line pretty much secured. If Miami lets Long walk, the team has a big hole at left tackle. Rookie Jonathan Martin may be able to fill that role. Martin had mixed results filling in for Long and played better at right tackle. If the Dolphins cannot find a better option, Martin may be the answer. But the Dolphins need a tackle – left or right – either way, in addition to an extra guard.
Honorable mentions: Tight end, safety