This is usually the time of year when unrestricted free agents are making visits, and teams are making offers. With no CBA in place, we all know that free agency cannot take place. This really sucks! Signing free agents in the offseason is something fans look forward to, and it helps answer some questions about who the Miami Dolphins plan on drafting, or at least what positions they may be going after. Seeing where free agents sign helps keep me going between now and the draft, thanks so much Owners and Players for taking that away.
While there is still hope a deal can be struck before the draft which should open the door for free agency to begin, all we can do now is play GM. Who knows what the front office of the Dolphins is thinking in regards to free agents, they have been pretty quiet about who they have their eye on, as have the rest of the teams in the NFL. But if I were running the show…….here’s what I would do this offseason on the offensive side of the ball.
It’s pretty obvious the Dolphins need to improve their offensive line,and I’m a little surprised that there has been no mention of the Miami Dolphins having interest in OG Robert Gallery. He would be at the top of my list. Imagine the line the Dolphins would have with Jake Long at left tackle, Robert Gallery at left guard, Richie Incognito at center, move John Jerry or Nate Garner to right guard, and have Vernon Carey at right tackle. That would be a pretty forceful line, and to top it off, Gallery is only 30 years old, he’s still got 5 very productive years ahead of him. Signing Gallery would also eliminate the need for Miami to use an early round pick on an offensive lineman.
Another area of need for Miami is at running back. With both Ronnie and Ricky becoming free agents, Miami has some decisions to make. As much as it hurts to say it, I think bothof them have to go. Ricky Williams is an all-time great Miami Dolphin in my book, despite what he did to the team when he left. He paid his dues, and when he got his chance again he played hard each and every time he stepped on the field, and I respect that. But with his age getting up there it’s hard to see Miami making a big play for Williams. Ronnie Brown has been one of my favorite players the past few years. but he’s injury prone, and last year he just didn’t look all that great. His production was down last year, and with his age starting to show, his situation is almost the same as Williams. Look for Miami to keep Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets for next year. Hilliard proved he could be a servicable running back in 2009, when he filled in for Ronnie Brown after he was injured. Kory Sheets could be a change of pace back if he gets the chance next year. He had a legitimate shot at seeing the field in 2010 but he tore an achilles tendon in training camp, ending his season.
Keeping these two, there is still a need for a running back, and I would fill that need in the draft. I’m not sold on Ingram from Alabama, not that I don’t think he’s good, I just don’t think he’s worth the 15th pick. I think Miami could find value in the middle rounds of the draft. I would wait until the middle rounds and take a chance on Roy Helu out of Nebraska or Mario Fannin from Auburn. Both are big, fast running backs who could I think can step in and have a shot at playing right away. I know neither of these guys are rated very high according to the experts, but the running back position is becoming easier and easier to fill, just ask Tampa Bay. They found their back in LeGarrette Blount and he wasn’t even drafted last year.
Now that the OLine and RB situation is cleared up, let’s move out to the wide receivers. This is one position I don’t think has to be messed with that much. The one potential need is a receiver who can get behind the DB’s and stretch the field. It would be a bonus if this receiver had some return skills as well. The market will have plenty of wide receivers once free agency begins. One very intriguing name out there is Sidney Rice. I know he was tendered, but with the new CBA it may not hold up. He isn’t a returner, but imagine him lining up opposite Brandon Marshall with Bess playing the slot. James Jones from Green Bay may also become a free agent. He isn’t a big name, but he was the number 3 guy for Green Bay who had the best receivers in the game last year.
There is some talent in the draft that could fill the need for a stretch the field receiver, and one that can be a kick returner as well. The name at the top of my list is Torrey Smithout of Maryland. I think he can step in and make a difference. He has elite speed and good return skills, bothof which should translate to the NFL quickly. If Miami loses out on Smith, later round options could be Titus Young of Boise State, Jerrel Jerniganof Troy, and my sleeper pick Edmund Gates of Abilene Christian. If Miami doesn’t get any trade offers during the draft to move down, I’d take Smith in the first round.
Now it’s on to the QB. The longer the lockout lingers on, the more Miami is likely to stay with Chad Henne heading into next year. I wouldn’t make a trade for Carson Palmer, wouldn’t go after Kolb or Flynn either. I would sign a free agent who would be good enough to start over Henne, or at least push him to become better. Marc Bulger fits this profile. He won’t be that expensive, and I really don’t think he could do worse than Henne did last year. I really wouldn’t keep Thigpen around. I know he is a little exciting, but with him it’s either two things 1) He didn’t play better than Henne in practice or he would have started more, or 2) He did play better than Henne in practice but this regime is going to go to the grave with the quarterback they drafted to be their guy! Either way he’s not going to get a chance to play. I would also add a quarterback through the draft. This year’s class is filled with guys that everyone is saying needs time to develop. Miami has no chance at Newton or Gabbert, and I’m not sold on Locker or Mallett. Ponder, Kaepernick, and Dalton may be available in the middle rounds, but I don’t think they are worth a pick in the 3rd or 4th rounds, and they are sure to be gone by the 5th. I’d wait for Greg McElroy. He isn’t ranked near the top of anyone’s board, he’s in the low second to high third tier of available QB’s and I believe he’s a little underrated. This guy has been a winner his whole life. He has a decent arm and he’s very smart, he scored a 48 on his Wonderlic test at the combine, and didn’t play in a spread offense in college so the transition to the NFL should be easier for him. He’s always been an overachiever, and I don’t see that work ethic leaving him once he gets to the NFL. He’s like Chad Pennington with a good arm, and I think he will do pretty well at the next level.
Well that’s the moves I would make to help fix the offense. Regardless of how Miami fills it’s holes before next year, the biggest thing that could happen to help the offense is for a new CBA to be in place so they can start practicing. It’s going to be very important for the entire offense to become familiar with the new offense that’s getting installed. If a deal takes too long, it may not matter who Miami adds to the offense this offseason!
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