Instant reaction to the Dolphins’ addition of CB Brent Grimes

by Andrew Bailey

The Dolphins splurging continues, as Adam Shefter has just reported that the team has agreed to a one-year contract with former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes worth in the ballpark of $5.5 million, which lands him among the top of this year’s market at the position.

A year ago, the Falcons used their franchise tag to hang onto Grimes, a former Pro Bowler, for another season. Of course, he tore his achilles in the first game of the season and would finish the year on injured reserve. Given he’ll be 30 at the start of the season and is coming off an injury that has hampered many a player’s career, there’s certainly risk involved for the Dolphins. But my impulse is that this move marks another plus move for a massively upgraded roster.

One of the most promising things we’ve heard of late from head coach Joe Philbin is the recognition that the team needs to be better at forcing turnovers. The Dolphins’ defense had just 16 takeaways last season, good for third-worst in the AFC ahead of the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs. From 2009-10, Grimes picked off 11 passes, so there is a proven track record of forcing turnovers. Of course, the same was true of Karlos Dansby when he came over from the Arizona Cardinals in 2010 but he accumulated just one pick in his three seasons in the aqua and orange.

The risk/reward of this deal seems fairly obvious though. On a one-year contract, the Dolphins have done a fine job of evading a long-term commitment and while the dollar amount is a bit high, the team could concurrently release cornerback Dmitri Patterson to immediately free up $4.5 million in cap space without having to absorb any dead money against the cap. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but it does speak to what this move does in the grand scheme of things: create options.

With five of the first 82 picks in this year’s draft and one of the most glaring positional needs now addressed for the short term at least, the Dolphins find themselves in a better position to draft based on talent rather than need. They still need a tackle to fill the void left by Jake Long and could probably use another young cornerback even with the addition of Grimes, but that is no longer a pressing need. With just that one glaring weakness (tackle), the team could conceivably use their 12th-overall pick to continue adding weapons to the offense or to obtain a much-needed and coveted pass rusher. Sure, they could still use their first pick on Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes or Washington’s Desmond Trufant, the latter of whom has a skillset that may better fit the Dolphins’ zone coverage philosophies, but the point is, their hand no longer has reason to feel forced. Where a weapon like Tavon Austin (I dream) may have seemed like a luxury item yesterday, he and players of his ilk now become just a little bit more digestible with yet another hole in the roster corked.

If there’s one thing you can’t help but credit about what has been a busy off-season, it’s Jeff Ireland’s methodical way of going down a check list of needs and eliminating them one-by-one. The best teams in the league got where they are by constructing a foundation and then using the draft to build upon it, which is exactly what’s been unfolding throughout the month of March. By adding Grimes, the Dolphins have put in place yet another piece of that foundation and set themselves up about as well as anyone could hope for a draft that will determine so much of the franchise’s future success.