Free agency is three weeks old. I know, it doesn’t seem like it has only been three weeks. While it’s now moved into the next phase of sporadic signings, it’s also where good GM’s find valuable talent at value prices. In years past this time of year would take a backseat to pro-day workouts and the upcoming NFL Draft. With the draft now in May, more veteran free agents are being forced to wait and that waiting comes with a price. A no paycheck price.
For the Miami Dolphins, waiting may be a smart move despite the fact that many fans and some media believe the Dolphins should fix their offensive line now, completely, instead of waiting for the draft. Dennis Hickey might, stress that “MIGHT” be making a smart move here. Waiting that is. Not for the draft but for these free agents to get a little eager to start getting a paycheck again.
Some free agents will still draw money from their previous teams and that will tie them over a while longer but others will begin feeling the pinch as the income they are used to having is suddenly drying up quickly. This is where it’s wise to be a good GM. Hickey will be able to land a right tackle and guard on a short term low cost deal or even a one year deal. It’s what he should absolutely be doing right now.
On the offensive line Bryant McKinnie, Eric Winston, and Ryan Clark are all available and teams are no longer interested in running up the phone bills of those players. At the guard position, Travelle Wharton, Wade Smith, and Davin Joseph are still waiting for their phones to ring. It’s likely that none of those players will get a call until after the draft. If I am Dennis Hickey, I’m not waiting that long.
Right now there is no competition to sign these guys and frankly their salary demands are negotiable. If Hickey waits to see what is available in the draft then it’s a dumb move. One that puts him in a position to build his offensive line through what falls to him instead of an opportunity to take the best player available. Conversely if he has the right side at least temporarily fixed he has more options during the draft. Taking a RT or RG in round one is not out of the realm of possibility despite signing anyone prior to the draft. Yet at the same time, if a better player is available at that point you are not pigeonholed into taking a player for need and need alone.
Hickey has been around the NFL for a long time and he should know the ropes as well as the pitfalls that this annual poker game presents but he should also know that flexibility to do what you want instead of what you need is what is going to make your team better on the field. The Dolphins could be playing smart ball right now waiting for the prices on these veterans to drop but I wouldn’t wait forever otherwise, you may not get the guy you want in the draft and you may find yourself holding an empty bag of rocks after the draft when other teams begin revisiting their needs.
There is still time but not a never-ending supply of it.