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NOV 20, 2011; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Clyde Gates (10) returns a punt against the Buffalo Bills in the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Miami defeated Buffalo 35-8. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE

Dolphins Wide-Receivers Need Upgrade


The Dolphins wide-receivers are in need of an upgrade.  It was told to me that Jeff Ireland had a plan in place at the start of free agency to replace the traded Brandon Marshall but that plan fell through.  As did his back-up plan and his back-up to that back-up plan.  There was some talk that Ireland was going to go strong at several WR’s available in the market but several teams, including the Dolphins, underestimated the contracts that would be offered.

The Washington Redskins had an early field day with wide-outs and both Tampa Bay and Jacksonville were active in driving up contracts for the position.  The next fall back plan for the Dolphins was the NFL Draft where once again, the Dolphins found themselves on the outside looking in.  The Dolphins viewed offensive tackle Jonathan Martin (Who will make his camp debut this week) a can’t skip pick in round 2.  Martin was a first round rated offensive lineman and high on the Dolphins draft board.  He also filled a glaring hole.  So Ireland and company skipped the WR spot.

By the time the 3rd round rolled around, most of the top WR’s were gone leaving the team to decide if reaching on a WR in round 3 was worth the price over DE Olivier Vernon and pass catching TE Michael Egnew.  They opted for the latter duo and then traded up to get a possible game changing running-back in Lamar Miller.  By the time the fourth round was over, most of the WR prospects were completely gone.

Which brings us now to Chad Ochocinco.  Several local papers are reporting that the Dolphins are interested in the “Diva” receiver but as of today, a workout has not taken place.  The issue for the Dolphins is twofold which is why OC is being considered at all.  The Dolphins have a problem at WR.

First, Brian Hartline is nursing a non-disclosed leg injury that is keeping him out OTA practices.  Secondly, it’s not a good thing when your coach comes out and say that a player is not grasping the new offensive system yet, as is the case with Clyde Gates who entering his sophomore year is expected to contribute on a much larger scale.  So far, Gates is behind free agent addition Legedu Naanee.  I don’t personally put too much stock into OTA’s which is one of the reasons I rarely report on the so called “breaking news” that come from them.  I mean, depth charts mean absolutely nothing and barring a major injury they really are nothing more than a conditioning program.

While I still hold that opinion, it’s clear that the Dolphins will need to do something rather than nothing and they do have options.  While it’s obvious that at this stage of the game the remaining free agents come with their own set of baggage, there are options.  Mike Sims-Walker, Braylon Edwards, and Plaxico Burress are all available although I would stay away from the latter two.  Rashied Davis, Bryant Johnson, Kassim Osgood, and the recently released Anthony Gonzales are available as well.

Then of course there will be more cuts later in the year prior to the start of the regular season.  Veterans always come available and the Dolphins may look towards Green Bay where they have 11 wide-receivers on their roster.  I would also not rule out a trade by Jeff Ireland.  He has an extra 3rd round pick in his bag and could also unload some of his extra up front defensive lineman.  In other words, the team has options.  Right now just isn’t the time to start using them.

OTA’s will give teams a feel for what they have, give them an opportunity to check the conditioning of their players, give guys time to learn parts of the playbook and ask questions.  It’s not a time to panic and start making unnecessary trades.  If the Dolphins do in fact sign Chad Ochocinco it will not be out of desperation as much as adding a veteran to the roster who may or may not be able to help the team win.  Whether or not CO can win a roster spot will be up to HC Joe Philbin and OC Mike Sherman.

I’m not one of those guys who believe the Dolphins “have to” sign him but I also know it won’t hurt anything if they do.  I’m not overly concerned about Chad Ochocinco as much as I am about Clyde Gates not getting a grasp on the system or Brian Hartline’s injury.  The Dolphins have a slim WR core as it is.   Jeff Ireland knows the position needs to be upgraded and I suspect we will see that happen closer to the start of training camp.  He himself said that he wasn’t done with the WR position.  We will see.

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Tags: Brian Hartline Chad Ochocinco Clyde Gates Miami Dolphins