July 27 2012; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin (right) talks with Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland (left) and owner Stephen Ross (center) during practice at the Dolphins training facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Earlier today I wrote an article regarding the hopes and likely heartbreak of fans looking to make a free agency splash. The premise was simple, the Miami Dolphins want to build the team through the draft. Today, speaking for the first time since the outset of the 2012 season (at least publicly), Jeff Ireland announced that he not only needs to find playmakers but nothing was off the table in an effort to get them.
Speaking from the Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Alabama, Ireland fielded questions from the local media but nothing he said could inspire fans more than the fact the team was all in. Ireland informed the media that the team needs to find playmakers on offense and that he wants a mix of drafted players and free agencies. He said that trades are also a possibility. Regardless, he knows that scoring points is a big need for this team.
Ireland pointed out that there is a 5 game gap between first and second in the AFC East and that the Dolphins still have a long ways to go and noted that the team isn’t looking to find one specific playmaker because they have multiple needs for playmakers.
In the past, the relationship between the Dolphins GM and the HC appeared contentious. Publicly. That will not be the case with Joe Philbin. The two are sharing a suite at the hotel they are staying at for the Senior Bowl and are doing all of the scouting together as a team. Last year, Ireland spent the Senior Bowl in Mobile, alone. Due in part to the recent hire of Philbin and his moving his family from Green Bay.
Both Ireland and Philbin need to hit on their free agent and draft additions this year or it’s possible that Ireland or perhaps Philbin as well, could be looking for work at the conclusion of the 2013 season. Forward steps are needed without question. The fact they are spending so much time working on the draft board shows their dedication and trust in one another to move the franchise forward.
Ireland also spoke about his own free agents and made it clear that many will be very hard decisions to make. Specifically he mentioned Jake Long, “It’s a very, very difficult decision,” Ireland said. “It’s a very complicated negotiation, so we’ll have to see where things go.” What Ireland does with his own free agents and how much he believes they are worth will go a long way into determining their spending limits in free agency.
Perhaps the point that the team will look at making trades is also intriguing. For the most part many view trades as an unrealistic option and when the off-season is discussed, it mostly centers on the soon to be available free agents. The fact that Ireland is looking at trades opens the door for more debate and wonder.
While I personally am not sold on the team actually making a huge impact in the free agent market, it appears that they will at least be active to some degree and fully recognize the need to improve the teams offensive output. In November as part of a contingent of websites invited to Miami for their annual WW event, we spoke with Ireland. Ireland informed the group that everything he has done the last three years was to build upon a plan.
Specifically, Ireland stated that the number of picks in this years draft was part of that plan and the cap situation to align with those draft picks was also part of the plan. Whether or not that plan turns this franchise into a contender is something we all will have to wait for. At least for now, we can look at free agency with a little more hope.