Today is Monday. I don’t have to tell you that unless your one of those who party it up on Oscar night and drink too much during the 3 hour plus show. Maybe you forgot what today is because you were dancing along with Hugh Jackman, crying with the celebs over the Heath Ledger posthumous Oscar, or maybe you stayed awake until the end to see Kate Winslet finally win or Slumdog Millionaire finish it’s miracle year. Yes, I’m using the Oscar intro here to give me a reason to use their tags…this story really is about free agency and the wide receivers that may or not be available.
So here is the primer for this weeks beginning to the NFL new year and the Miami Dolphins with where they may fill their needs.
ON THE ROSTER
Greg Camarillo – Ted Ginn – Davone Bess – Brandon London – Ernest Wilford – Tab Perry – Todd Lowber – Anthony Armstrong
4 out of 5 – although if you ask Tony Sparano, WR is a luxury more than a need. The Dolphins will not be happy going forth with the current state of the unit and will likely address the position in this years draft and not in free agency. With the Wilford contract taking up cap space, Wilford will not be cut and that means at least one spot will be taken, albeit on the inactive list if he doesn’t get it together. The Phins need a number 1 type WR. Most of the FA market consists of depth and slot receivers.
FREE AGENT OPTIONS
(2.5 stars out of 5 vs. Phins needs)
UFA’s – unrestricted free agents:
Michael Clayton – TB: Wants to resign with TB and is meeting with the team this week
Reggie Williams - Jax: Phins won’t go after another Jag after last seasons misstep with Wilford
Mike Williams – Ten: Once thought highly enough to be a top 5 pick, Williams is barely hanging on to being insignificant.
Nate Washington – Pitt: Washington is a better than average player but is not great. He could be good in the right system but in Miami he wouldn’t have the value that a Davone Bess would.
Kelly Washington – NE: The Patriots were saddled with top WR’s in Moss and Welker. Washington wasn’t going to break into that lineup but he could be an addition for a team looking for depth…if he can play special teams.
Amani Toomer – NYG: Age is catching up, the Phins won’t have interest
Koren Robinson – Seattle: Robinson has the tools but he is beyond his prime and taking his downturn, his talents were never truly reached.
Jerry Porter – Jax: All the talent and speed and hands like stone. No one really knows what Porter’s problem is but so far two teams have failed with him on their roster.
Mike Furrey – Det: Two years removed from a very solid season, Furrey was released a few weeks ago. Furrey is a Greg Camarillo type player and the Phins already have Cam.
Justin McCareins – Tenn: The Titans have been suffering with their WR unit for the last several years. Justin is one of those guys they thought would help the team…turns out TE was the better choice.
Brandon Lloyd – Chicago: Lloyd is a guy that needs a consistent offense so that the NFL can see what he actually can do. He is young and has shown flashes but will not likely become a number 1. He is more designed for the slot or number 4 WR but could make it as a number 2 in the right system. Miami isn’t that system.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh – Cincy: The biggest name on the market will hit FA and look for a large payday. Some believe he will get it thanks to a weak FA market while others believe that possession receiver has over valued himself. While Housh would be an improvement at the number 1 position in Miami the truth is that his asking price and age (31) may exclude him from the Phins plans.
Bryant Johnson – SF: Many fans thought the ex-Cardinal would be a huge FA signing last season for the Phins. They passed and he signed a one year deal late in FA with SF. He did very little and was outshined by the ageing Isaac Bruce.
Devery Henderson – NO: Henderson shined at times last season with Drew Brees throwing him the ball while starter Marques Colston was injured. Henderson however lost out to Lance Moore down the stretch. He will not provide the needed improvement in Miami that the team needs. Henderson excells at getting downfield for the long ball…isn’t that what Ted Ginn is for?
Jabar Gaffney – NE: Gaffney was a solid number 3 for NE at times but he never reached his potential there nor did he do well in Tennessee after being drafted. Gaffney has a ton of expectations but that window is closing quickly. Not enough reward.
Shaun McDonald – Det: Stuck behind all of Detroits first round WR’s, McDonald has never been able to consistenly show his talent. However, he also couldn’t beat out Mike Furrey either.
Keary Colbert – Det: The Lions seem to be purging the WR’s. They also finished last season winless.
The Rest of the UFA’s:
Drew Carter, Marty Booker, Terrance Cooper, Bobby Engram, Ron Curry, Robert Ferguson, Rod Gardner, Dante Hall, Cortez Hankton, Darrel Jackson, Brandon Jones, Mark Jones, Ashley Lelie, Dane Looker, Dave Patten, Cliff Russel, Edell Sheppard, Dominique Thompson.
RFA’S - Restricted free agents (require some form of compensation)
Miles Austin – Dallas: The Phins would love to have Austin. Miles would compete with Ted Ginn for the number 1 spot opposite Greg Camarillo and would give the Phins a legit pass catcher downfield. Good hands and good speed makes Austin a viable option. Compensation – expected to receive the 2nd round tender.
Hank Baskett - Philly: It’s unknown what the Eagles intentions are but Baskett never excelled in Philly to the level that he should have. The Eagles have been searching for a standout WR and love to throw the ball with McNabb. Yet Baskett’s numbers have been modest. Compensation – unknown
Mark Clayton – Baltimore: The Ravens will likely keep Clayton. He has a good repoire with new QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens own his rights. They can either match any offers or tender him at a 2nd round level. Clayton doesn’t improve the Dolphins WR corp much so there will not be much interest in him. Compensation – expected 2nd round pick
Sam Hurd - Dallas: The Cowboys may have to let Hurd leave if the try and keep Austin. The can’t afford all of their receivers. Hurd is decent but has not reached the level of a consistent NFL receiver. Compensation – none unless tendered.
Lance Moore - NO: Moore showed last season that he is ready for the NFL. Far from elite, Moore displayed consistency and drive and stood out in the New Orleans offense. Moore is ready to take the next step to number 1 WR status but will struggle depending on the team he joins. In Miami, Moore could become an excellent option for Chad Pennington, but the Saints will not allow Moore to simply leave. If they don’t resign him they will tender him. Compensation – 2nd round tender likely.
Courtney Roby – NO: Roby is a relative of late Miami Dolphins Punter Reggie Roby. Drafted by the Titans Roby couldn’t cement a position on their roster and in NO, has struggled to make any strides as well. Roby will provide depth for someone, but not likely Miami. Compensation – none likely.
The rest of the RFA’s:
Demetrius Williams, Wallace Wright, Jeff Webb, Maurice Price, Ben Obomanu, Marcus Maxwell, Ruvell Martin, Glen Holt, Malcolm Floyd, Shaun Bodiford
THE NFL DRAFT AVAILABLES
There are roughly 58 draft eligible WR’s for this years NFL draft. Of those, only a handful will be selected on day 1. These are the top 7 WR’s available.
Michael Crabtree – Tx Tech – 6’1″ 215: Crabtree is the number 1 WR in this years draft, but a foot injury is going to require surgery. Crabtree is holding off surgery until he runs his 40 yard dash at his pro-day. Will this affect his draft position? IF, and that is a very big IF, Crabtree should fall out of the top 10 to 15 slots, there will be more than a few teams jockeying to trade up. Chances of being a Phin – Slim to none.
Jeremy Maclin, Missouri : 6-0. 198: Maclin did himself no favors by running a 4.45 40 at the Combine. While some won’t take stock in this number come draft day, his value will slip a bit. Projected as a mid-first to early 2nd rounder, Maclin will not likely be around when the Phins pick at 25. Chances of being a Phin – 25%.
Hakeem Nicks – NC – 6’1″ 212: Nicks is the big mover so far this off-season. His 4.49 40 at the Combine was worse than Maclin but Nicks is deemed a different type of receiver and the rest of his Combine went very well. Nicks was slated to be 2nd round pick but has moved into round 1. Chance of being a Phin – 45% – but the team would have to draft him in round 1.
Kenny Britt – Rutgers – 6’3″ 218: This is a big WR and the Dolphins have been lacking that endzone presence. Britt ran a 4.48 at 6’3 which is impressive. Still he factors to be a 2nd round pick and the Phins may not take a shot at him at 25. If the Phins don’t draft WR in round 1, they may look at him with their first 2nd round pick (from Washington in the JT trade) or another WR. Chance of being a Phin – 30%
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland 6-2. 210: In Mel Kiper’s first mock draft of the season, this was his selection for the Phins at 25. That has since changed as HB is not projected as a round 1 WR just yet. He ran a 4.30 at the Combine which is beginning to drive up his rankings. Detroit likely will pass in round 2 but I doubt the Raiders will who are still looking for someone to pair with Jamarcus Russel. Chance of being a Phin – 25% in round 1 – 10 % in round 2.
Percy Harvin, Florida 5-11- 192: Harvin has been invited to Miami for a workout so there appears to be interest. Harvin could be available with the Phins 2nd rounder and it’s growing likely that the team is indeed targeting the WR. Harvin ran a solid 4.41 at the Combine but that won’t likely drive up his stock at this point. Pro-day workouts could change that for a lot of guys. Chance of being a Phin – In round 2…very good.
Brian Robiskie, Ohio State 6-3. 209: Robiskie comes with a rather well respected NFL pedigree thanks to his father Terry. That however will not get him any favors in the NFL draft. His 4.48 40 time will. Robiskie is a nice tall receiver with good hands but he needs to improve his route running. Chance of being a Phin – 20% – late 2nd round pick to early 3rd.
2ND DAY WR’S TO WATCH
Not all WR’s can be drafted on day 1. Most WR’s will be drafted on day 2 in rounds 3-7. Here are a few names that stand out as possibilities. If the Phins don’t draft a WR on day 1, they will be looking for a gem on day 2. If they do draft a WR on day 1, they won’t likely take another one unless it’s QB/WR/HB Pat White.
Aaron Kelly - Clemson: Kelly ran a 4.49 at the Combine, unimpressive? Kelly stands 6’5″ at 204 pounds. Kelly has some work to do but he provides a definite size advantage over most NFL corners. Kelly posted a vertical jump of 38″ which is very good as well. Kelly may not become a Dolphin and has some serious work to do to become a threat in the NFL, but he should excel in the endzone.
Mohammed Massaquoi - Georgia – 6’2″ 210: He ran a dissappointing 4.5 40 at the Combine and his career history at Ga. isn’t stellar. He broke out his final year but his career numbers were mediocre. He is a project with a lot of talent and in his final year at Ga. showed that he can play…was it enough?
Marko Mitchell - Nevada 6-4 218: Mitchell played well at Nevada but is still projected as a mid-second day draft pick. His height is his big plus and he has posted decent numbers. In 2007 he was second in the nation with yards after catch averaging 21.6. The Phins desperately need a (YAC) WR. Mitchell posted over 1200 yards that season while only starting in 8 games.