NFL

Is Duke Riley primed to return in 2022

New head coach Mike McDaniel and general manager Chris Grier are preparing for the start of free agency when the league year opens on March 16. Teams can begin talking to other teams’ pending free agents during the legal tampering period on Monday, March 14.

For the Dolphins, they have 24 unrestricted and restricted free agents remaining after they tagged tight end Mike Gesicki, placed a second-round tender on cornerback Nik Needham, and tendered two exclusive-rights free agents.

One position where they have quite a few pending free agents is linebacker, including Duke Riley, who is set to the unrestricted market.

Riley, 27, signed with the Dolphins last offseason on a one-year deal worth just over $1.1 million. Prior to his time with Miami, he spent two years with Atlanta Falcons, where he was selected as a third-round pick in 2017 out of LSU, and two years with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In his lone season with Miami, Riley played in 16 games, recording 26 total tackles. He played a limited role on defense (21% of snaps), but he was a solid contributor on special teams (59% of snaps).

With the Dolphins group of linebackers not being the best in coverage, Riley shined in that area, as Pro Football Focus had him giving up a team-low 67.6 passer rating against (six completions on 11 targets for 53 yards) at the position.

At this point, the Dolphins linebacker room is looking empty for 2022, as Jerome Baker and Andrew Van Ginkel are the only backers under contract. Riley, Elandon Roberts, Sam Eguavoen, Brennan Scarlett, and Vince Biegel are all free agents.

Miami will probably be looking for upgrades at the position, especially with Baker shining when moving to the edge at points in 2021. Even if they do move on from some of these guys, they could still use a decent coverage linebacker who fills multiple roles, and that could be Riley’s job going in 2022.

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4 free agent guards that could make the Dolphins better in 2022


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