Free Agency. A time of craziness as teams scramble to add both unproven and proven talents to their rosters before the NFL Draft. For the past two off seasons, the Miami Dolphins have made big splashes in Free Agency. This time last year we saw the Dolphins shell out huge amounts of money for WR Mike Wallace, TE Dustin Keller, and CB Brent Grimes. This year the ‘Phins have added LT Branden Albert and FS Louis Delmas among others. As of recently, the Dolphins have reported interest in RB Knowshon Moreno (who left Miami without a contract) and RB Maurice Jones Drew (some sources say Miami is NOT interested). The Dolphins were indeed weak at the RB position last year, as a poor O-Line undoubtedly contributed to the mediocre play of backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. Should Miami bring in a veteran FA running back? Here are my pros and cons for this specific scenario.
1. Veteran Leadership
One thing the Dolphins could really use is some veteran leadership on the field and especially in the locker room. Adding MJD or Knowshon would add much needed experience and leadership to the entire team and organization. Both backs are respected at their position and have been in this league long enough with little off the field distractions or incidents. On a narrower note, bringing in a FA veteran back like the aforementioned two would bring experience to one of the younger positions on the roster, as Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have just 5 combined seasons between the two.
2. Upgrade of Play/Production
Both MJD and Knowshon would be an instant upgrade at the RB position for the Dolphins. Some say Moreno’s success was a result of Manning and the Denver offense, which is probably true. That being said, in his 3 seasons with the Broncos before Manning’s arrival, Moreno averaged more than 4 yards a carry and posted 18 total TD’s while splitting time at the position. He is a proven and very diverse back. As for MJD, the 8 year vet has a career average of 4.5 yards a carry and 68 career TD’s. Is he the same player he was in the prime of his career? Absolutely not. But he would be a great stop gap option and could double as a mentor for Miami’s younger backs.
3. Run Blocking Upgrade
If you watched the Dolphins play at all last year (even one measly game), something should have stood out to you: RYAN TANNEHILL WAS SACKED A TON. A league worst 58 times to be exact. Part of that was a result of poor decisions by Ryan Tannehill himself, part of it was an abysmal O-Line, and part was the inability of both Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas to block. I have watched many games with MJD and Knowshon in them, and one thing both of these guys know how to do is get low and take out oncoming defenders. Either one of these veterans would be an instant upgrade in the protection of RT17.
More likely than not the reason Knowshon left Miami without a contract was due to money. After having such a breakout year, Moreno was probably looking for a steeper contract than the ‘Fins were willing to shell out. MJD, entering the final hoorah of his career, will be looking for at least veterans minimum, if not more. Neither of these guys are as expensive as someone like Chris Johnson, but they won’t come cheap either. It is up to Miami’s front office to determine exactly how much a FA RB is worth.
2. Depth of the RB position in the 2014 NFL Draft
Take a look at the RB’s who have entered this year’s draft. It is tantalizing. Miami could go big early and grab Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde or Auburn’s Tre Mason, or they could grab a stud in the middle rounds such as Kadeem Carey or Bishop Sankey. There are SO many options. In my opinion, I would rather the Dolphins wait and see who they can grab in the upcoming draft. It is a much cheaper option, and a hungry rookie desperate for playing time would only heighten the competition for the starting job.
Like I mentioned before, MJD is on his way out. He will not be able to continue to play at his current level, which has already decreased with his increasing age. As for Moreno, I would dub him on the closing of his prime, and after a few seasons, he will be in the same position of MJD. This is another reason I would rather see Miami bring in a fresh young rookie, who still has that initial burst and spring in his step, and who has his best years still in front of him.
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