Free Agent Wish List? Not So Fast

NFL draft - All-Time-football.comI suppose like most fans you have a list of possible free agent that you call your “wishlist.  I suppose you may even have them broken down by position and how they fit in with players already on the team and who the Miami Dolphins could then draft and finally, Voilà!  Playoffs in year one! 

Not so fast.  As I stated on Finsaradio.net last Friday night, the Miami Dolphins and their possibly 50 million in cap space is surely going to disappoint more than a few fans.  With all that money to spend, the Dolphins are not likely to spend every dime of it.  Big name free agents will hit the market and very few will actually come to Miami, even for a visit.  With Saban there was “Make haste slowly” and Cam Cameron gave us the gem “fail forward fast“.  So far there has been no quirky slogan from Jeff Ireland, Bill Parcells, or Tony Sparano.  In fact there has been little of anything.

The problem with building through free agency and grabbing up “names” is that “names” cost money.  Sure the Dolphins have anywhere between 35 and 50 million to spend, but that is only this year.  It does not carry over.  Don’t think for a minute you can sign 4 guys that cost 7 or 8 million a year and expect them all to lower their bases for the length of their contract.  It is moves like that which have us where we are today.  Expect a different approach.  One maybe 2 names on the top, with a lot more off the bottom.

So with the free agent period a mere 11 days away and the Combine starting in 2 days, it might be a good idea to take a look at what could happen with those guys that are available…not all of them of course, but some of them.

As teams begin their annual convergence on the city of Indianapolis, GM’s and agents will start talking trades, contracts, and rookies.  Here is a scaled down list of who is available in free agency, and who has a real shot of being in Miami next year…and who does not.

The Quarterbacks: 

Who’s available:  Derek Anderson – Cleveland, Rex Grossman – Chicago, Daunte Culpepper – Oakland, Josh McCown – Oakland, Quinn Gray – Jacksonville. 

The skinny

Derek Anderson will be tendered or resigned and traded.  He is a Restricted Free Agent.  He will cost a 1st and 3rd round draft pick and is unlikely to find a home in Miami.  He is just way too costly. 

Grossman has been up and down in his entire career and it is unlikely that a coach, GM, and an everything guy who all put so much emphasis on the QB will take a flier on him, even as a backup. 

Daunte Culpepper is coming off a bad year and one that saw him leave Miami in turmoil.  His antics and attitude will not likely sit well with the Tuna.

McCown showed very little in Oakland as he struggled with a lack of depth on the offensive line, as did all Oakland QB’s.  He will likely find a home elsewhere.

The Dolphins:  With John Beck the only “name” on the roster, the Phins are going to do something with this position.  Cleo Lemon is an unrestricted free agent and has not been contacted by any member of the teams staff.  Trent Green was released leaving only Beck, Casey Bramlet, and Matt Baker on the team.  The Dolphins will have to find at least a veteran to join the team.

Trent Green is not cleared to play yet and the team has reached out to his agent and expressed interest in bringing him back this year.  If he is cleared it is a very good possibility that he will be the number 2 QB on the team.

Josh McCown is the only name on the above list that in reality could be in Miami.  Given some time in the pocket McCown didn’t play god awful.  He had little time in Oakland.  McCown will come cheap and is nothing more than a backup but he will provide Beck with at least a little competition.

My GuessChad Pennington.  Pennington is not on the above list as he has not been released yet.  The Jets will explore a few trade options and then cut him.  I believe he has a roster bonus coming up and the Jets have all but officially turned the team over to Kellen Clemens.  Pennington is a Bill Parcels’ draft pick and he has a history of bringing along his ex-QB’s when they are no longer wanted.  In Miami, Pennington will give Beck competition, a veteran leg of support, and insurance.  Miami just needs to have insurance for Pennington and his name could be Green or McCown.

The Running Backs:  The list of free agent running backs if your keeping track will be listed below, but the focus for now in Miami will be resigning Jesse Chatman who Bill Parcells is rumored to really like.  The problem in Miami is that they don’t need a running back or depth at running back…at least this year.  Even the Ronnie Brown injury is expected to have him in ready by the start of the season.  If Miami signs a FA RB it will only be a depth guy.

Who’s available:  Michael Turner, Jamal Lewis, Julius Jones, Justin Fargas, and Chris Brown.  There are a few restricted free agents as well like Marion Barber, but Miami will not signing any RFA’s that will require draft compensation.  If Marion Barber comes to Miami, it will be a part of a draft day trade.

The Wide Receivers:

Who’s available:  Randy Moss – NE, Bernard Berrian – Chicago, Bryant Johnson – Arizona, Drew Carter - Carolina, Andre’ Davis – Houston, Donte’ Stallworth – NE

The Skinny:

Randy Moss - Will be franchised.  He is not leaving NE and the Tuna wouldn’t likely take him anyways.

Bernard Berrian – A speed burner in Chicago he lacked the opportunity for the long ball because he didn’t have any consistency from the QB.

Bryant Johnson – In my opinion the number 1 WR prospect in free agency.  With Johnson there is a catch.  Rumors say that the Cardinals may try and move WR Larry Fitzgerald who is a UFA next year.  If the Cards move him in a trade, Johnson will be resigned or tagged and thus unavailable.

Andre’ Davis – Played well in the absence of Andre Johnson in Houston.

Stallworth has not be officially released, but his contract includes a roster bonus due in a few days and he will be released before that happens.  Due to the roster bonus it is unlikely that any team will pick up his contract.

The Dolphins:  With Marty Booker being cut…finally I might add, and Chris Chambers being traded last year, the Dolphins have a serious need for a WR, or 3.  Derek Hagan has yet to show the consistency in his catching ability to lock up even a number 3 position.  The Dolphins are likely to address the WR position in both the FA market and the draft.

My guessBryant Johnson.  The Dolphins management team have seen this kid first hand being in the NFC.  He is not elite and in reality is still only a prospect.  Johnson to his credit has played very well when filling in for either starter in Arizona.  Johnson is working behind two of the better receivers in the league in Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.  He will not be an overly expensive free agent and his contract should not carry much in overall guaranteed money.  He is young, and should really be coming into his own in another year or two given full playing time.  He would be an excellent compliment to Ted Ginn on the other side.  Andre’ Davis is another option as he is very good at special teams.  If Miami goes with two in FA, Davis I think will be looked at.  Stallworth was a target of the Dolphins last year, but that regime is completely gone.  It is unknown if there is an interest in him from the current group.  If the Dolphins want a solid number 3 WR Stallworth could be an interest.  Especially coming out of the AFC East Patriots.  He is definately worth keeping an eye on.

Tight Ends

Who’s Available:  Eric Johnson – New Orleans, Ben Troupe – Tennessee, Alge Crumpler – Released free agent, Dallas Clark – Indianapolis.

The Skinny:

Crumpler will likely end up in Carolina.  He is from NC and currently has a quite a few friends on the team.  It is only a quick jump East from Atlanta.  At 31 and coming off some knee concerns, it’s probably better for Miami to skip this one.

Troupe never lived up to what he could have been.  A large TE that really couldn’t explode in the NFL like he should have.  Troupe will not break any banks but in reality, Miami might be better off working with Peele instead.

Clark will not likely leave Indianapolis.  A great pass catching TE, Clark is not the prototypical blocking TE.  If he does in fact hit the FA market free and clear, he will command and get, top of the line TE money.  It is possible, but unlikely that Miami would spend a bunch on a TE.  Even on one of the best.

Eric Johnson had a breakout year for TE’s only a short 4 seasons ago.  He was plagued by injuries in his final year in San Francisco and joined Brees in New Orleans where he has been average.  Johnson can still be a formidable pass catcher but I think he ends up staying in NO.

My GuessAnthony Fassano.  Fassano is on the Dallas Cowboys roster and is not an RFA or UFA.  He is under contract and in fact is rumored to be coming off a surgery that will have him missing the mini camps in Dallas, but not the start of training camp.  Fassano is very familiar with the Dolphins staff and vice versa.  In Dallas he is stuck behind Jason Witten which will not change.  I think he is part of trade at some point.  Miami should address the TE position in the draft…possibly in the 2nd round with Fred Davis or in the 3rd/4th with ND TE John Carlson.

The Offensive Line:

Who’s Available:  Alan Faneca – Pittsburgh, Flozell Adams – Dallas, Ryan Lilja – Indianapolis, Max Starks – Pittsburgh, Jake Scott – Indianapolis.

 The Skinny:

Of all of these prospects, only Adams is in a position to be tagged as a franchise player.  The rest will likely hit the market running and with precedents already set, the lineman once again will make a commanding presence with contracts in the 7 and 8 million dollar range.

The Dolphins:  With the release of Anthony Alabi and Joe Toledo, the Dolphins are in a pinch with their tackles and their guards.  Rex Hadnot is scheduled to be a free agent and thus far the two sides have not spoken about a contract extension.  LT Vernon Carey has spent one year at the LT spot, but even there he was not lights out stellar, although he was serviceable.  Returning to center will be the Dolphins best rookie from last years class, Samson Satele.  Still, Miami has to find bodies for the line and with the free agent market having some nice potential, the Phins could make a mark here.

My Guess: No Clue.   The Dolphins will likely make more than one free agent signing here in terms of what is available at the top.  They will sign Flozell Adams if he escapes Dallas hands down.  They could also look at guys like Lilja and Scott if they don’t land Faneca.  Starks is not out of the question either, in reality no one is.  I still think they go all out to get Faneca who is also being sought by both Cleveland and Chicago so he will not be an easy catch, but I am not sold that they will get him.  With other holes on the defense that need to be addressed as well, Faneca may be too pricy.  The Dolphins will also address the line in the Draft…whether or not that is early or on day 2 is not known.  It really depends on the number of picks the team gets.

We will take a look at the defensive side of the ball tomorrow.

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Tags: 2008 NFL Free Agency Alan Faneca Anthony Fassano Bill Parcells Bryant Johnson Chad Pennington Eric Johnson Flozell Adams Jeff Ireland John Carlson Josh McCown Miami Dolphins Tony Sparano Trent Green

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