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Dolphins soon to chase their own free agents

If you read my column in Tuesday's Miami Herald you understand after reading the first paragraph of the story that Bill Parcells isn't one for wasting time.

He met with owner Wayne Huizenga Monday, one day after Miami's season ended, to outline things he wants to do in free agency. One reason Parcells needed to tell Huizenga about his plans is he wants to re-sign some, if not all, of Miami's soon-to-be free agents.

And to do that you need approval from Huizenga because it is, after all, the owner's money.

So as early as Tuesday, the Dolphins began contacting the agents of their targeted unrestricted free agents and making what they believe to be good offers in order to sign them before the beginning of free agency gives those players the opportunity to test the open market.

The Dolphins are wise to try to re-sign their key free agents because they cannot take steps backward on the talent front if they are to improve for next year.

So which players are we talking about?

Cornerback Andre' Goodman.

Strong safety Yeremiah Bell.

Free safety Renaldo Hill.

Inside linebacker Channing Crowder.

Right offensive tackle Vernon Carey.

Miami has others but these are the more important ones. All these players, with the exception of Goodman and Hill, were disturbed the Dolphins didn't extend them to new deals during the season. Now they are 45 days or so from going on the open market. That means getting their John Hancocks now will take hard work.

And the Dolphins are apparently on the job. So which player should be the priority? Well, as Tony Sparano said, you cannot get enough offensive linemen and cornerbacks.

To me, the Dolphins would do well to ink Goodman and lock up Carey. I realize both have issues. I realize both had moments this year when they didn't play well. But Goodman's moments came early in the season and from about the fifth game on, he was nails with his coverage. He led the team in interceptions.

Carey struggled with his pass blocking at times. But the Dolphins were primarily a right-handed running team in 2008, I think, because Carey was their best run-blocker much of the season. Finding a tackle is not always easy. Why let one walk when he's on campus?

It could be argued the Dolphins could do major damage by chasing Carolina's Jordan Gross in free agency but I don't see that happening. The Dolphins could re-sign Carey and address the right guard spot or center spot with about the same money it would take to sign Gross. Plus Gross played at left tackle in 2009 so he's going to want LT money rather than RT money.

So Carey is an important piece to keep, in my opinion.

Yeremiah Bell will also be re-signed if the Dolphins have their way. He's athletic, he's explosive, he's got a great work ethic, and his teammates like him. His agent Drew Rosenhaus isn't going to take a bargain contract now that YB has proven he can stay healthy and entire season. But Rosenhaus does have a history of working with the Dolphins.

Hill and Crowder will also get new offers. But I wouldn't be surprised if one of them doesn't come back for 2008 and I would be less surprised if Crowder is that one. Simply, an inside linebacker can be found in the draft. And Crowder wants a big payday. He is valuable, but the concern here is he might be more valuable to another team than to Miami.

All of this pre-free agency thinking is important to the Dolphins because they have a vision for 2009. And what might that be, you ask? Simple: Improve enough to win a playoff game.

"My vision on where this team is headed would be to win one of those ballgames like we were in [Sunday]," coach Tony Sparano said. "If we put ourselves back in that position, and to win one of those ball games like we were in [Sunday], to be better prepared, to be bigger, to be stronger, to be faster and all of those things when we arrive at that point next time.

"I think, when you come in here and you’re a new staff, the players don’t know your expectations, they’re not aware of what you’re looking for and all of a sudden now, they really are aware of what this thing is all about and they do know our expectations and how we expect to get to where we’re going to be. They do know that we won’t rest until we get this thing right one way or the other. I think that there’s a little bit clearer picture, or an awful lot clearer picture for them when they do come back. For us, we’ve just won our division, we won 11 ballgames and now you’ve got to say to yourself, ‘You set your sights on being better than that.’  You have a bar up there, you’ve got to try to go after that thing."

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