Jeff Ireland is the man tasked with turning the team around. It’s his job to give new head coach Joe Philbin the pieces that he needs to be successful. While the Buffalo Bills spend 99 million dollars to upgrade their pass rushing defense with Mario Williams the Dolphins are once again playing it safe. Last year, Ireland hit well in his first post-Bill Parcells off-season. He used the lockout to not overvalue any player. This same tactic is being used this year and it’s not working.
The Dolphins scheduled their first free agent visit with former Texans OT Eric Winston. A Miami product. The Dolphins were rumored to have low-balled him an offer. He left Miami and yesterday signed a 4 year deal with the KC Chiefs. For 22 million. A very reasonable price for a guy who fills a major need on the Dolphins roster. In Miami, he likely would have taken a little less considering there is no state taxes. Jeff Ireland simply put too little value on a player more than capable of filling that hole.
Following the Brandon Marshall trade it was rumored that the Dolphins were going to go all in on Vincent Jackson, they never landed him and while there was talk they would host WR’s Laurent Robinson and Mario Manningham, Ireland never reached out to them with any conviction to give them the impression they were truly wanted. Robinson signed with the Jaguars and Manningham with the Rams. Yesterday, Brandon Lloyd (my FA number 1) signed with the New England Patriots who also signed oft-injured WR Anthony Gonzales.
This year’s free agency well of WR’s has gone cold and the Dolphins are now backed into a corner of no other options. Meaning they will have to use a draft pick to replace Marshall. Somehow I get the feeling that Ireland may very well expect Roberto Wallace or Marlon Moore to fill that role. Or he thinks last years speedy draft pick Clyde Gates is the answer.
The word is that Jeff Ireland puts a value on a player and refuses to negotiate from that value’s ceiling. While in some cases it will work out in other cases you have to be willing to go all in. Good talent can be found in the draft, great talent you have to get lucky with, great proven talent you have to pay for. It’s the latter that sells the tickets.
Buffalo reported an immediate increase of over 1,000 new season tickets sold after the signing of Mario Williams. The team that lands Peyton Manning could see an increase that is 10 fold. The Dolphins haven’t seen an increase in ticket sales. It would be interesting to see if they lost sales.
The Dolphins re-signed Paul Solia to a two year deal worth 12 million. It’s a great signing for Ireland who paid Solia 12 million for last season alone. The problem is there is no guarantee he will transition to a 4-3 defensive tackle. The Dolphins also re-signed Phillip Merling who was a restricted free agent and RB Steve Slaton who rushed for 80 yards last season. They let Kendall Langford leave VIA free agency and he joins the Rams.
Probably the best signing the team has made thus far was Richard Marshall who can play both FS and CB. A versatile defensive back who came to Miami as a value signing. While the Dolphins need help at safety, they are saying he will play CB. Which means that either Sean Smith is moving or Marshall is competition for the job. He is being paid starter money.
So far in this young new league year, the Dolphins have added a DT in Solia and another defender in Merling. They added depth at corner and signed one of the worst offensive lineman in the NFL, Artis Hicks of Cleveland.
The Jeff Ireland pattern of business isn’t working for Dolphins fans who don’t expect fireworks and name brand appliances but they do expect something relatively more expensive than what you can buy at Dollar General. Jeff Ireland is tasked with turning this team around and for a team coming off 8 consecutive losses to open their season and six wins to finish it, his opinion of the teams readiness to take the next step is over-inflated.
For owner Stephen Ross, at some point you have to start wondering why ticket sales are lagging behind other NFL teams and you can look at the spending habits of your GM to figure it out. I have defended Ireland for a long time and know for a fact that despite media contentions to the contrary, Ireland is a well respected GM in the NFL. That however won’t buy tickets for Dolphins games.
It’s time to spend a little bit of money and if you overpay a Pro-Bowl caliber lineman, then you overpay a Pro-Bowl caliber lineman. It’s one thing to devalue your depth players until they prove their worth, it’s another to over-value your team that annually sinks lower and lower. While I still support Ireland…that fence I was squarely on the other side of, now has my hands on top of it.