Chris Perkins and Omar Kelly offer their thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' moves on defense during free agency.
Free agent linebacker Zach Brown left South Florida without reaching a deal with the Miami Dolphins, and will continue his free-agent tour with a visit to the franchise he played for last season.
Brown, who spent Monday evening and Tuesday morning with the Dolphins, is scheduled to visit the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday. The five-year veteran, who is coming off a 2016 Pro Bowl season in which he recorded 149 tackles, four sacks, pulled down one interception and forced two fumbles, has also visited the Oakland Raiders.
The Dolphins would like to sign Brown, and haven't ruled it out, but league sources say Miami's looking to do a short-term deal, and Brown is seeking a multi-year agreement.
Brown, who has started 49 games in his five-year NFL career, is a rangy 6-foot-1, 248-pound athlete who can play all three linebacker spots.
Brown, 27, averaged 102 tackles in the four seasons in which he's played all 16 games, and he has 14 sacks and seven interceptions in his career. But his personality has turned off some teams, according to league sources.
The Dolphins have Lawrence Timmons, who signed a two-year, $12 million deal this month, and Kiko Alonso, a restricted free agent who agreed to a new four-year deal on Tuesday, penciled in as the two linebackers who would play every down. But the linebacker unit does need more depth, and potentially a starting strong side linebacker.
Koa Misi's status with the Dolphins remains uncertain because of the neck injury that forced him to miss all but three games last season. Misi has struggled with injuries for the past three seasons, missing 21 games, and he's due a $4.2 million base salary in 2017.
Neville Hewitt, who contributed 64 tackles and one sack in limited action in his second season, is worthy of a continued investment, but he's more suited to play weakside linebacker.
The Dolphins also have Mike Hull, Trevor Riley, Deon Lacey, Lamin Barrow and Brandon Watts on the roster, but those five linebackers are viewed as either core special teamers, or long shots to make it onto the 53-man roster. The Dolphins typically carry seven linebackers on the 53-man roster.
There are still a number of respectable free agent linebackers — Brown, Gerald Hodges, Perry Riley, Korey Toomer, D'Qwell Jackson, Kelvin Sheppard, De'Andre Levy, Josh Bynes, Erik Walden — available in free agency. So Brown could be the first of a few the Dolphins host on a visit.