5 NFL free agents who could become stars

Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, NFL Free Agency
Buffalo Bills

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

These aren’t the sexiest names to change teams in NFL free agency, nor did they get the biggest deals — but they could become stars for their new teams.

1. Shaq Lawson, EDGE, Miami Dolphins

Though we didn’t know it yet, Lawson’s three-year, $30 million deal (with $21 million guaranteed) was just the tip of the iceberg for Miami when it came to spending on the defensive side of the ball in NFL free agency.

Lawson, 25, comes to the Dolphins after a major uptick in production in each of the last two seasons, culminating in a 2019 campaign that saw him get to opposing passers for 18 quarterback hits and 6.5 sacks as part of Buffalo’s dominant defense. The pass-rusher appeared in 15 games for the Bills and is entering his prime, meaning he can be counted on (especially on a relatively short deal) to spearhead the Miami pass rush throughout his contract.

Third-year linebacker Vince Biegel led Miami with 13 quarterback hits in 2019, and no one else had more than nine. The Dolphins were bereft of proven talent on either side of the ball by the end of the season, and still, head coach Brian Flores managed to pull a few wins out of this squad. The worst defense in the NFL by DVOA improved its pass defense greatly in free agency.

Lawson will pair with expensive cornerback Byron Jones to potentially vault the Dolphins’ pass defense into the upper-half of the league, if not higher. Miami also added Kyle Van Noy and Emmanuel Ogbah, signaling a clear emphasis on adding talent on defense. However, entering his prime and much-improved over the past two seasons, Lawson could blossom and finally see those sack numbers go up to match his hit numbers, as opposing offenses struggle to deal with the Dolphins’ defense.

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