The Miami Dolphins are looking straight into the eyes of the new season. Officially the NFL starts a new year on the second day of March when free agency kicks off. Over the next 3 weeks, teams will start re-signing their own free agents, assign the team tags to the players they don’t want to let go, and make their final preparations for the combine, pro-days, and of course the draft. For the Dolphins and the other 31 teams, it’s time to get busy.
The Phins have finalized all the pieces to the major players in the coaching staff. On Monday, former Panther OC and former ATL HC Dan Henning was officially named the offensive coordinator. Henning replaces, well, he replaces, ummmm, no one. Miami was without a “true” OC last year as former HC Cam Cameron carried those duties. Henning will be responsible for turning around one of the worst in the NFL.
The Dolphins will have to decide in the next few weeks what they want to do with their own free agents as well as some who are not but soon will be. A decision will likely have to be made on Trent Green, if not publicly then privately. That same line of thinking also works with Zach Thomas. Will he or won’t he be back? Do the Phins resign Rex Hadnot or let him go? The list goes on and on. In reality, very few players on this roster are safe from being unemployed, and that in reality is only because you have contracts.
The NFL Pro-Bowl is this weekend, and players and their families are enjoying the Hawaii weather. Lounging on pool chairs and sipping pina coladas when not half-assing it through meaningless practices. Behind those sunglasses and palm trees, potential free agents are already talking to each other about where their next stop might be.
It was during the pro-bowl week that Donovan McNabb spoke to FA Terell Owens about coming to Philly and the list goes on. Agents and GM can not talk but players sure can and do. For the Dolphins, well, there are no players in Hawaii talking up the team. Jason Taylor was the only Phin to make the roster, and he has pulled out.
While the players out on the Pacific island chat, GM’s are talking to their players’ free agents, discussing trades with other teams, and basically hunkering down for a long stretch of administration work before the physical season begins in May with mini camps. For Miami, their off-season started a lot sooner, and with all the explosiveness of a nuclear bomb.
As free agency approaches, the Dallas Cowboys will be where most Miami fans tilt their eyes towards. In much the same way the Dolphins stole their coaching staff from Big “D”, the free agent period will surely bring in at least one of the familiar guys for HC Tony Sparano and company.
Still there are teams out there. Rumors and speculation abound on names like Barber, Johnson, Samuel, and the rookie pool of Ryan, McFadden, Dorsey, Ellis, and the Longs’. As you read this, someone is sitting in Davie, Fl. writing down names, examining profiles, interviewing neighbors, talking to another team GM and so on. It is all prep work for the new year. Simply put, this is still 2007 – 2008. The Pro-Bowl will close out this week, teams will then have 3 weeks to get things ready to roll. Then, on March 3rd at 12:00 AM, the new year swings into play. For Dolphins fans, it may just be the first off-season of hope in a long time.