April 18, 2024

Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier faces a challenging offseason. Grier must somehow strengthen his roster while losing payroll, since he is currently at a minus $49.317 million on January 19 according to Over the Cap.

To make matters worse, Miami has 11 approaching free agents who played in more than 40% of snaps in 2023. One of those guys is veteran center Connor Williams, whom Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay warned NFL clubs against targeting on January 15.

“Williams may have begun his career as a left guard for the Dallas Cowboys, but he seemed to have found his true calling as a center,” Kay wrote in a piece detailing 2024 free agents to avoid.

“The Miami Dolphins were rewarded with two of Williams’ finest years yet after bringing the offensive linemen in on a two-year deal and switching his position ahead of the 2022 campaign,” the report continued. “Unfortunately, a torn ACL suffered late in 2023—the second-such injury he’s dealt with in the last half-decade—could impact Williams’ ability to maintain that high level of play going forward.”

 

The interior blocker is coming off a career-high Pro Football Focus score of 86.5 (90.5 as a run blocker), but Kay says that’s all part of the “buyer beware” mentality.

“Williams now faces the tall task of rehabilitating from a devastating injury for the second time before the age of 27,” Kay pointed out, deeming Williams’ $13.5 million per year Spotrac market value “far too steep a price and risky for a player unlikely to see action for a chunk of the 2024 campaign and unsure to return to form at all.”

Will Connor Williams Return to the Dolphins on Hometown Discount?

Kay’s worries are all valid — and most NFL teams will certainly take them into account when chasing Williams — but they may benefit the Dolphins more than others.

 

LT Terron Armstead leaves matchup vs. Texans

Miami has an advantage when it comes to the seasoned center. One, he appeared to love playing for head coach Mike McDaniel before to his injury.

Two, he is quite comfortable with the Dolphins’ offensive plan, but he would most likely have to learn a new playbook as he recovers if he signed with another team.

Three, Miami needs all the OL depth they can get. So, if other teams are “avoiding” Williams due to his ACL injury — and his value suffers as a result — that may be a good thing for the Dolphins’ cap-strapped organization.

It’s possible that Williams will consider a hometown discount to stay in Miami.

Dolphins have at least 5 roles to fill on the offensive line.

This spring, Grier and the Dolphins will focus on the offensive line ahead of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Williams, starting guard Robert Hunt, rotational guards Robert Jones and Isaiah Wynn, and swing tackle Kendall Lamm are all free agents, with one or two expected to go. Furthermore, left tackle Terron Armstead appears to be considering retirement following an injury-plagued season.

The Dolphins were prudent to sign right tackle Austin Jackson long-term, and they still have one or two solid contributors under contract, such as Liam Eichenberg and Lester Cotton, but the rest of the blocking unit is a complete disaster.

If Grier is unable to keep the majority of these free agents, he will need to replace them. Given how essential the offensive line has been for both Tagovailoa and the Miami rushing assault under McDaniel, this is a frightening fact for Dolphins fans in January.

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