Dolphins Ireland Has Talent Available
By Brian Miller
November 25, 2012; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook (89) runs with the ball during the second half of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. The Jaguars defeated the Titans 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Ireland need only to look around the NFL today and see who wasn’t tagged to realize that re-shaping the Miami Dolphins will come with an assortment of available play-makers. It’s no secret the Dolphins want to add a big league threat at WR so the declaration that Green Bay will not tag Greg Jennings is a positive. While there is no chance the Dolphins will cave to his reported demand of 12 million annually, it will give the team another option (at some point Jennings will come back down to reality). The Dolphins will of course also have a shot at Pittsburgh WR Mike Wallace but the top end talent got a little thinner this afternoon when the Kansas City Chiefs locked up Dwayne Bowe with a contract extension. Bowe’s deal will likely be the benchmark to this years deals. It’s still not reported yet although rumors have put it at 11 million annually. If that is the case it’s more than likely Wallace will come in higher while Jennings will come back to Earth quicker. The Dolphins could obviously opt to wait for the draft and today’s realization that both Jermichael Finley and Tennessee Titan TE Jared Cook are closer to hitting free agency may be a draw to lock down a pass catching TE play-maker now and get the WR later instead of the other way around. Note: Finley is not scheduled to be a free agent but may be released. The Dolphins will have plenty of competition for both positions but have around 37 million to spend after today’s franchise tag placement on DT Randy Starks. The Dolphins were thick along the defensive line but it’s a strength that GM Jeff Ireland didn’t want to deplete. And smartly so. The Dolphins are going to need a stingy pressing front line to cover up for what could be very thin corner-back depth. The use of the franchise tag on Starks means that Sean Smith will walk and the likelihood of a return just dropped to around zero. The same could be said for OT Jake Long. The Dolphins will have no choice but to find replacements for both starters. Smith will be the harder to find considering Jonathan Martin is on the roster and played well in Long’s absence last year. The Dolphins will shift their focus once again to the right side of the offensive line. This years free agent crop looks deep at the position although it’s likely the Dolphins will pass on the top end RT’s in order to spend their salary space elsewhere. With the franchise tag deadline now past, the Dolphins could look at some of the free agent corners in only a few days. Captain Munnerlyn of the Carolina Panthers will hit the free agent market but so will Aqib Talib of the Patriots who did not opt for the tag. The Dolphins could also opt to visit with New England Tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Ireland will need to find a pass rushing OLB as well and it appears that he will turn to the draft in order to find those players. The free spending off-season that many fans anticipated will likely fall far below those expectations. The Dolphins will spend but will do so frugally on players that will not only help them win now but win in the future as well. That means younger players who have yet to reach their potential. Of course these days, nothing is cheap and the Dolphins are going to find out exactly how expensive the market will be very soon. They have the spending power and at least one high end team with cap space leveled out considerably today. The Chiefs used their franchise tag on LT Branden Albert, re-signed Punter Dustin Colquit to the highest salary for a punter (in the neighborhood of 18 million on the life of the contract) and of course the aforementioned Dwayne Bowe signing. Free agency doesn’t start for another week but teams can legally start making phone calls to agents for other players in five days on the 9th. The Dolphins are expected to be very active in the market. Last year the Dolphins opened the league new year with the announcement of the Brandon Marshall trade. Maybe this year they will announce the signing of a top flight WR…either VIA trade or free agent signing.