The Miami Dolphins top the list of QB needy teams when free agency resumes…eventually. Teams like the Washington Redskins and the Arizona Cardinals are also sitting atop the league as well as a few others who may or may not add veteran signal callers to their mix. For my money, the season would ride on the arm of Chad Henne and the Miami Dolphins should buck the popular media belief and stick with what they have at home.
Three things can happen in the next 5 months. The lockout will be forced to end, in which case free agency will begin, the league will get something done prior to the start of training camps in which case free agency will begin, or the lockout will continue and games will get cancelled, in which case it really won’t matter who is on the Dolphins roster. My guess would be that many fans simply won’t care at that point.
A forced end to the lockout will give the Dolphins the best chance to find a veteran and still allow that vet to learn the play book. A lockout that ends in early August will leave a veteran QB trying to learn a new offense on the run. With the Phins installing a new system of sorts…some kind of Brian Daboll/New England Patriot/Cleveland Brown/Wild Cat/run-first hybrid, your guess is as good as mine, any new offensive players will likely struggle if the season opens late.
That is not, however, why the Phins should stay away from a veteran caller. It’s simply because no one is really worth the money or the investment of draft picks that it would take to get them here. And that is a problem the Dolphins will need to figure out.
Kevin Kolb is supposedly the best option that would be available. He has already been shopped by the Eagles and everyone knows he is available in trade. Kolb lacks game experience and in his first year as the showcased QB, he lost his job to Michael Vick after he was injured early in the 2010 season. Kolb has the right body and mechanics to succeed in the NFL and he comes from solid coaching in Philly but the Eagles won’t let him roll out of the “City of Brotherly Love” out of love alone. He is going to be costly. Both in terms of a new contract and the compensation that his new team will give up. It’s likely to cost a 1st and more, but even a 2nd rounder is something that the Dolphins really can’t afford at this point. Kolb would cost a lot more.
Kyle Orton is the next name on the trade list. He comes with the working knowledge of Brandon Marshall from their time in Denver together but Orton didn’t lead the Broncos to the playoffs or even into a real contention for the division. He is streaky and some of his mechanics need work. While he has had far more “real” football time as a starter, both in Denver and Chicago, the one fact is that he was traded out of Chicago and two years later is possibly being traded out of Denver. Hardly a glowing endorsement for your teams future. And Orton will cost at least a 2nd round pick. Do you spend that slot on a player who will have been traded twice?
Matt Hasselbeck could hit the open market as a free agent. Last season he took the Seahawks into the playoffs and shocking first round win in the one game elimination race. But he is far over the wrong side of 30 and it’s not likely that he would take his talents to Southbeach for a reasonable price. Still, if the team is looking for a veteran stop-gap who won’t cost picks and could bridge the Chad Henne to next years draft class, he might be one of the better options. Hasselbeck also has injury concerns as well and that should deter the Dolphins from making a play on him. After all, the team is said to be looking for someone to compete against Henne and in reality the Phins would make Hasselbeck their starter outright.
Carson Palmer’s name is mentioned in sync with the Miami Dolphins more than almost any other QB. But let’s get this out there now. He is not the long term future for the Dolphins but instead will cost the Dolphins part of their future. Palmer is not on the trading block according to Bengals owner Mike Brown. If he was on the block, Brown would have to be “Wowed” by an offer. So forget about a 4th or a 5th or a combination of third day selections. Palmer won’t leave Cincy for less than a second or at best a third. A 3rd would be fine but Palmer is 31 and entering the latter stages of his career. He would literally be looking to “resurrect” his career in Miami as his production has fallen off over the last few seasons. While some will say that “He was with the Bengals” as a reason for his slide, let’s not forget that “He would be in Miami” who has had one of the worst offenses over the last two seasons.
Donovan McNabb comes to the list of names as yet another top QB who was traded and failed at his next stop. The Broncos have two QB’s that have failed for them in Orton and Quinn while Washington took a shot on McNabb in a trade out of Philly when it was all but clear that the franchise was in good hands with…yep, Kevin Kolb who is now, one year later, on his way out of Philly as well. McNabb still has the attitude to lead an offense but he is long in the tooth and really needs a supporting cast to compliment his mental lapses in judgement. In Washington it was said he took some plays off or didn’t put his heart into it. That could easily have been the clashes with HC Mike Shannahan. Either way, his stint in Washington appears to be a short one, and it says a lot about a QB when rumors persist that his replacement will be Vince Young. McNabb may be another stop-gap QB who would legitimately compete with Henne for the starting job. But McNabb isn’t going to come to Miami on a scaled down salary and he will expect to start. He is one of those QB’s that could actually start the season and be replaced by Henne a couple games later. He is that streaky these days.
Vince Young was never a QB that I had on my FA radar but truth be told, he might be the best option available to the team. He will be free once he is cut by the Titans and his on-field and off-field issues will keep his salary lower than some of the others. He has the speed to run the WC, the arm to throw down-field, and the attitude to win. What he doesn’t possess is pure leadership by example. Some question whether he is a team player. In Miami, would he be able to mesh with Marshall and the rest of the cast? Would he hinder the offense or support it? Can he learn a new system quickly? On the upside, he could be cast off in a year or two if he is a failure or if the team finds a better option. Still, there are too many questions that surround Young to risk the build of your team. At least for now.
Brady Quinn was supposed to be the Miami Dolphins draft pick in 2007 when Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller (who is the GM for one of the UFL teams now) decided to shock everyone in the NFL world ala the NY Jets by taking Ted Ginn, Jr. and his entire family to return punts to the sideline. Quinn sat in the “green room” and watched pick after pick leave Radio City Music Hall while he and his girlfriend squirmed until the Cleveland Browns ended his agony. Quinn spent a short time in Cleveland before being shipped off to the Denver Broncos. So that’s two cast off QB possibilities from a Broncos team that really needs an identity at QB. They are after all pinning their hopes on Tim Tebow. Quinn isn’t the answer long term but might be a solid addition if the team wants to let Tyler Thigpen go or if new rules allow him to leave as an RFA. I wouldn’t suspect that Quinn will be beating out Chad Henne anytime soon though.
There are a few other possible names that could float up if and when FA begins but in reality they are simply names to keep depth on the roster. Not long term solutions, there simply isn’t any on the FA market or the trade block. Next year the Dolphins will likely see Chad Henne’s contract run out and he will become a free agent or he will have a far better season and the Dolphins will give him a lot more money to keep him. It’s more likely the former. The Phins will, in all likelihood be shopping for a QB next season regardless of what they do this off-season. Whether it’s Palmer, Hasselbeck, Young, Orton, or Kolb. So why throw money and picks out the window?
The Dolphins are better off allowing their season to ride on the shoulders of Chad Henne. Coach him and let him play unsaddled with the horrid play calling of Dan Henning. See what the kid has or doesn’t have and then address their future next year for the long term or if Henne works out well this season, get him signed and draft another QB to push him further. I simply don’t see the options to risk the picks or the teams mechanics on the unknown because the future of the Dolphins QB position is not available this year.