« Jake Long on ankle injury: "I feel fine" | Main | Reasons Dolphins might not cut Ernest Wilford »

More tough decisions: The Dolphins secondary

I am a product of my generation, one that grew up watching Dan Marino and Mark Duper and Irving Fryar and Keith Jackson and Bruce Hardy and Mark Clayton do amazing things on a football field. I grew up watching and admiring great offensive football in Miami.

And lately I've covered a team that is incomplete on offense. Even as the Dolphins rose from the ashes of 1-15 to the heights of 11-6, the offense didn't really do it for me. The receiver corps lacks a No. 1 guy. The quarterback, brilliant and cagey and a great leader, cannot make all the throws. And the interior of the line is a work in progress that requires much attention.

So I've been focused on that side of the ball of late, particularly in light of the amazing offensive performances I witnessed during the playoffs and Super Bowl. But can we take a breath?

Can we take a serious look at the Dolphins overall?

A sober look at the team reveals one need that glows in neon right now: The defensive backfield. It is a mess.

Maybe you haven't noticed but starting cornerback Andre' Goodman is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. Starting free safety Renaldo Hill is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. Starting strong safety Yeremiah Bell is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.

In other words, three-quarters of the starting secondary is looking at free agency.

And that means the secondary will be the area most affected by change this offseason because we all know it's unlikely the Dolphins will be able to retain everybody.

And even if the Dolphins make the attempt to keep everyone, that only means they would be keeping a group that had issues at times during the 2008 season. The Miami secondary had a handful of meltdown games -- Arizona, Houston, New England in November, and Kansas City -- that also suggested the unit needs attention.

So where does that leave the Dolphins?

You might know I wrote a Sunday column outlining a couple of tough roster decisions the Dolphins must make in the coming weeks. Add the decisions in the defensive backfield to the list of tough decisions.

It seems possible, perhaps even likely, the Dolphins will address the free safety position in the draft or free agency. Yes, they could re-sign Hill as long as he doesn't want to break the bank. But the team clearly wanted an upgrade at that spot last year when it tried Chris Crocker and Jason Allen as starters while Hill was still mending from ACL surgery the year before.

Hill is 30 years old now so it seems unlikely the Dolphins are looking at him as the long-term answer at the spot. So while his ability to keep order and make the right calls at free safety impressed the Dolphins, the position will require a long-term solution. 

Bell is also 30 years old and eager to get his first, and perhaps, only big NFL contract. A late bloomer who suffered injury setbacks in the past, Bell had an outstanding season in 2008 and he's in line for a contract that pays him among the top 10-15 strong safeties in the NFL.

That means the Dolphins will have to cough up anywhere between $4-$5 million annually to re-sign Bell. That would keep him below elite strong safeties like Troy Polamalu ($6.8 million in 2008) but would bring him into the same company as a Rodney Harrison ($3.7 million in 2008). Bell made a bargain $520,000 in base salary in 2008.

The expense is one the Dolphins must weigh against the possibility of losing their leading tackler and arguably most dynamic and consistent player in the secondary. The Dolphins have signaled they want to keep Bell, but I'm told no serious negotiations might be done on this front until later this week and going up until the Feb. 27 start of unrestricted free agency.

Then there is Goodman. He also is 30 years old and seems pointed toward free agency absent a deal in the next two weeks. He led the team with 5 interceptions and 19 passes defensed. Goodman admitted to me midway through the season that he started 2008 poorly.

But I believe you'll agree he was nails the season's final month or so. Four of Goodman's five interceptions came on Nov. 30 or later.

Top 10 NFL corners earned, on average, $8.3 million in 2008. I think we can agree Goodman is not on that plateau. But he's going to want a deal that averages at least $3 million per season. Why?

Will Allen, Miami's other starting cornerback, is scheduled to make $3 million in base salary in 2009 and I doubt Goodman's agent will allow his client to be paid less considering his client produced more last season.

Regardless of what the Dolphins do with Goodman short-term, the cornerback spot is one the Dolphins will have to look at adding talent to this offseason. Allen, you must remember, is not signed beyond 2009. (This is where the fact Jason Allen is a bust hurts Miami because if he weren't, he would be the young guy, the former No. 1 pick waiting on deck to step into the starter's role. But Allen isn't ready for that and coaches know it.)

So looking at the entire portrait of the Miami secondary, you see uncertainty and the need to address those uncertainties. Did I mention Miami has tough decisions to make?

Discuss ... 

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b26169e20105371bb028970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference More tough decisions: The Dolphins secondary:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I wouldn't overpay for Bell

Jason who? Taxi!!! Take this guy to the Greyhound terminal, he can cover his own fare if nothing else.

I'm # 2!

I'm not goint to pay alot for this muffler.

Delete this comment please.

Let's face it Mando, Bell has one, yes ONE good season and he's 30, he don't worth more than 2,5 to 3 million a year, noway, the other three are good but not that good, we'll get a couple of draft picks and a couple of free agents for the positions at the right price, won't overpay the guys, if they came at a right price great, otherwise, see you, remeber Zach and JT

Concering the secondary, I see us trying to re-sign all 3, but not breaking the bank for Hill or Goody. I think we'll draft a Safety with 1 of our 2 2nd round picks to become Hill's eventual replacement. I think we'll look at CB's like Bryant McFadden and Leigh Bodden (if/when Detroit releases him), who are younger and arguably better than Goody.

Hey Mando,

Don't worry your ugly little self with what the teams needs. Leave that to Parcells and the guys he brougt in. With what they did last year, its it nice to know we have a front office that alreay knows this. They know we'll have a tougher season next year and will bring in who they need to to handle it. Relax because in two years its Maimi in the Superbowl. Remember when Jimmy Johnson said he'll take Maimi to the bowl in three year. Well Parcell co won't say it, but they'll do it.

The problem with the Dolphins secondary is that there's too many guys who are just ok. Saying that,i would like Miami to resign Bell and Goodman but paying too much could end up being a problem considering the money they could get offered.Losing Hill would be no great loss.The depth at the Cornerback and Safety positions in the draft are strong so i would'nt be suprised if Miami were to add a couple early on.

I think the Dolphins should keep Bell and Goodman. Goodman might be better suited as the third guy to an upgraded rookie or an upgrade through free agency. Or maybe Allen drops a notch. Either way, I think an upgrade is needed, but Goodman and Allen can still play well. Bell was arguably one of the top 3 defesive players the Dolphins had, so they really should try to keep him.

2009 nfl draft
1-cb oline or lb i would like to see alex mack go here
2a-kenny britt or sean smith or patrick chung hes a beast
3-cb
4-zack follet from cal
5-7 find that diamond in the rough in safty cb d and o lines..............

what do you ppl think?

I think your an idiot who can't spell.

Seriously, I like the CB, OL (RT??), or ILB in the first round. I also think they really need to find that young NT to strat grooming.

I like Bell and Goodman. Good players. Bell is no way, no how Rodney Harrison.

Sign them.

The rest can go and we can draft or sign another FA to fill in the remainder. J Allen may be better this year but he could walk too.

You are right the secondary is in deep do-do. However, if the D line had got a few more pressures we would have nothing to discuss. I have read right here that the line has 4 seconds to get to the qb tops. If they have longer then it is game set and match. Nobody can cover an NFL receiver all day. And there were times this year (especially against Houston) where we had little or no pressure.

As long as they don't draft Clay Matthews in the first round like I see some pundits predicting. he's the third best LB on USC, let alone a chance to be an impact player in the NFL. I don't even like the injury prone Cushing in the first round. But I digress. Just take the best player available deespite position. For a team that can use infusion at G, C, OLB, DT, ILB, and WR to a certain extent - beggars can't be choosers.

Bell and Goodman will be back. Bell will probably be tagged as I've heard.

i wouldn't mind trying something different with the secondary. why don't we use three guys in the secondary and have an extra linebacker? i think 2 corners and a safety would be good.

where is the post regarding Y Bell?? Come on dude

finfanrob, hmm, maybe you've never heard of the deep pass?

I think the Patriots would love the Dolphins to employ that technique. Did you go to the Tom Olivadotti school of defense?

Give me a break on defense. We need a game breaker on offense. One of the first 3 picks in rounds 1 and 2 has to be a #1 receiver!

I could'nt agree with you more finfanwv. Heyward-Bey or Nicks both look great. Miami must draft either one.

If Nicks is there at 25, which he probably wont be, he cannot be passed on. I saw him play in the bowl game this year and he's a beast!

Here's how to handle the situation:

1. Sign yeremiah bell to a 3 year deal for about 15 million with 9 million guaranteed. That's a great contract for bell considering the ceiling for safeties appears to b about 7 million dollars per year. He's definietly a high-end tier two safety, a notch below polamalu and reed, but in the same class as a bob sanders. Bell would probably accept the offer because he's been injured in the past and has had an unconventional path to NFL stardom considering he was a 6th round draft pick and attended Eastern Kentucky University. Maybe even make the contract 3 years for 18 million with 11 guaranteed since he's a tackling machine and his achilees injury was probably a fluke.

2. Do not franchise Vernon carey unless the franchise tag value is different for right and left tackles. If the tag doesn't differentiate then it would make no sense to tag him since he's not one of the top 5 or 10 Tackles in the NFL. I think we can get him signed to a generous 5 year deal worth about 30 million with about 13 million guaranteed. He's a solid versatile player and continuity is important to an o-line's success.

3. waive Hill and promote jason allen to safety. I dont care what anyone says, when he gets time at safety he actually does play well. His play suffers because He's always under the threat of getting benched and constantlt moving back and forth between safety and CB. If the coaches actually let him get settled at safety I think he can do well. He was pretty solid at the end of the 2007 season when cameron had no choice but to play him. He just may have bad practice habits or lacks the demeanour typical of successful players. Remember, cameron benched ronnie last year and there were rumours reported by chris mortensen ( A trusted parcells confidante)that parcells was considering trading ronnie in august. As I've heard before, this is probably the result of ronnie appearing to relaxed and laid back for a coach's comfort. As we already know, when ronnie gets on the field he can ball. The same thing may apply to jason allen. Coach's may percieve him to be unfit for the job even when he is capable simply because he doesn't carry himself like a typical pro.

4. let crowder walk and draft his replacement in round 1 or early round 2. This is a deep LB draft and parcells loves drafting LBs and knows how to find them

Waterboy: Did you read this blog post? Yeremiah Bell is a significant part, my friend.

also, bear in mind who each player's agent is. I think Bell is with Rosenhaus which will have a profound affect on how this whole thing plays out.

I think it is nice that Armando views you as a friend, Waterboy.

2009 nfl draft
1-cb oline or lb i would like to see alex mack go here
2a-kenny britt or sean smith or patrick chung hes a beast
3-cb
4-zack follet from cal
5-7 find that diamond in the rough in safty cb d and o lines..............

what do you ppl think?

What in the hell is goin on here?!!!

Vince, you couldn't even coach in the UFL nowadays.

Rosenhaus is a slime jonah. I watch him sometimes on one of the local channels in Miami and he's the most ungenuine person I've ever seen. Drew is all about Drew and he's going to make Bell and his other stooge clients go wherever the money is greatest, not necessarily to stay with the Dolphins.

Mando, you've obviously dealt with this cancer of a person for years. What do you think of him?

Mando,

Do you think they keep J. Allen around one more year to see if it finally clicks w/ him or just cut their losses?

Hey rideshare, what the hell is the point of calling Mando ugly? What are you some fruit that's checking out the local reporter for kicks?

Dude, try women. They are good for a man's body and soul.

I don't know exactly what a slime jonah is, but I will definitely be calling people that a lot from now on.

We are not going to sneak up on ANYBODY next year. If we are well under the cap, then we need to spend some dough on some killer players that fit OUR system. We really need a ball-hawk safety and corner as well as a pass rusher. We can get a WR in the draft.

Jonah Patitzky, I agree with most of what you say, except for the Jason Allen bit. I agree he has at times looked the part when he gets playing time, but we have to keep in mind that there have been three regimes, including the one that drafted him, that haven't thought he was good enough. He has even been handed the starting job, like in training camp this year, and couldn't hold on. Maybe he improves this year because he'll finally be able to play the same defense two years in a row, but he is a question mark at best.

I think resigning Bell is key, as long as it doesn't take Palomalu money to do it. Keeping one of either Goodman or Hill- in that order- would be a plus as well. If the price is right I'd have back all three. While this secondary did have a few meltdowns, they showed imrpvement throughout the year and started getting turnovers from November on.

If we improve the pass rush, and stop the run more consistently, this a secondary you can win with. They might not be all-pros, and we could use depth if not an upgrade at corner, but these guys can play smart and tough if they aren't asked to do too much. I would like to see us bring in Jim Leonhard from the Ravens- remember how he played us in the playoffs. He is young, has a knack for making plays, and contributes on special teams.

I am much more concerned with finding a long-term answer at NT and ILB. Ferguson was just OK and Solai hasn't shown enough yet. I only take Crowder back if he's cheap, and I don't think he'll be cheap enough. We need somebody like Zach Thomas who was all over the field as a rookie. Somebody like Bart Scott of the Raven would look good in Aqua as well.

The pass rush must be addressed as well. Whether done with situational guys or a new full-time starter, Porter needs help. We might get some internal improvement from Langford, Merling, and Roth.

On Offense, upgrading the interior line has to be the priority. I am not saying that is all we need- a big, physical receiver is needed as well- but the philosophy of this team is to beat people physically, and we won't succeed with the middle of our line being a weakness. Somebody like Jason Brown, another Raven, would be huge. Drafting at least one O-lineman, regardless of position, is a must even if we do bring in a FA. It doesn't have to be our first rounder, but it could be if it is the right guy.

I would be in favor of the Anquan Boldin trade, if it can be done for a 2nd rounder. I doubt we'll pay him what he wants when we have so many other needs on our front lines, but we might.

I remember those Miami offences too. They couldn't run the ball if it were to save their own mothers. Lots of flash, no championship. Not one. Heck, they barely won any playoff games.

You guys from the Marino era missed what real championship football is all about. A running game and a killer defense.

My guess is Marino would trade every team he played on for one season with Csonka in the backfield and Fernandez eating up Quarterbacks.

The Tuna has this organization on the right track. Give it time.

sign BRIAN DAWKINS!!!!!!

picture him and BELL back there.

plus he's a great locker room leader- he wins the walter peyton award like every other year.

Good points, we DO need some receivers, and linebackers and DL and actually we could do better at a lot of positions. I hope people don't expect the world after we took the division this year. We have a BRUTAL schedule next year. I say we will go 8-8 next year unless we get a lot better overall, and with the draft and free agency.

Maybe some of you have forgotten the impact that Bell has had on the field...

He was the difference maker in 2006, when Saben & Company won 6 straight.

He was the difference maker in 2007, when our defense went from top 5 to nothing in a matter of one game.

And... he was the difference in 2008 when he overcame an entire healthy season and led the team in tackles.

PAY THE MAN! We've got the money we need some more cow BELL!

Mattack, "the pass rush must be addressed " , "porter needs help","situational pass rusher".I don't know.but maybe you were away or something lol,but we signed a "sack master" named cameron wake to play olb and be a pass rush specialist to help porter.THE fins will draft another who might be a converted de in rounds 3 or later.

Bell is a playmaker. I watched every game for the past 7 years (directtv) and really have not seen a defensive player (sans Zack) that is always around the ball. Some players are fast, some play fast. (Zack Again). Unless there is someone in free agency better, pay Bell.

where did my post go

Sign Bell, always around the ball, unlike Crowder and Porter!!!

Dawkins is n excellent safety, a little old, but I'm from Philly and we all know he makes the Eagles tick

I STILL DON'T KNOW WHY THE COACHES ARE NOT PROMOTING J.ALLEN HE ACTUALLY IS A GOOD CORNER/SAFETY. YEA HE GOT BURNED BY R.MOSS BUT SO DID OUR STARTER W.ALLEN. WHAT I REMEMBER IS J.ALLEN MADE R.MOSS FUMBLE OR GET DISTRACTED WHATEVER YOU WANNA CALL IT. J.ALLEN IS A BETTER SAFETY THAN RENALDO HILL. (WHEW) (CATCHING MY BREATH NOW) RELEASE CROWDER HE'S GOOD BUT REPLACEABLE. CAREY....HE'S GOOD BUT IF WE CAN GET SOMEONE ELSE THAT WOULD BE FINE. BELL IS 30 WHATEVER BUT HE'S YOUNG IN THE GAME SO HE MIGHT PLAY TILL HE'S 40. GOODMAN IS IN THE SAME BOAT AS BELL 30 BUT HASN'T PLAYED VERY LONG IN THE NFL SO THEY HAVE SOMETHING LEFT. BELL IS A FOOTBALL PLAYER PERIOD. GOODMAN GOT COMFORTABLE IN THE SYSTEM AND OTHER TEAMS NOTICED THAT SO MUCH THAT THEY DIDN'T THROW TO HIM AND WHEN THEY DID THROW IT THEY NOTICED WHY THEY DIDN'T THROW TO HIM (INT OR BREAKUP). THAT'S MY PIECE. NOW GO DOLPHINS!!!!!!!!!

J-P You are an idiot.J.Allen is a piece of crap.And stop posting in all CAPS.

Mondo please give a list of whats out there to b had freeagents and draft we would be in close contention of getting

Sign Bell and Asomuga from the Raiders.That is called an upgrade. Sign Carrey and draft a guard in the third round.If Laurenitis falls to 25 get him, if not Nicks the wide reciever from Carolina should be there. A safety at 2a and what we diddn`t get wide out or inside linebacker at 2b.
Don`t forget people that Cameron Wake can play outside linebacker and will improve our pass rush. He recieved second round money for a good reason.
Finally I believe Solai will be a player this year .

FIRST OF ALL YOU SHOULDN'T CALL SOMEONE AN IDIOT IF YOUR NAME IS TONY T BONE. 2ND YOU MUST BE A CAMERON GROUPIE TO SEE THAT EVEN IN OUR HORRID SEASON OF 1-15 J.ALLEN WAS ONE OF THE FEW BRIGHT SPOTS. LAST YEAR THE JOB WASN'T EARNED BY CROCKER IT WAS GIVEN TO HIM. IF YOU LOOKED AT EVERY GAME AND INTERVIEW LIKE I DID YOU WOULD NOTICE THAT COACH SPARANO SAID THAT J.ALLEN JUST DOESN'T HAVE EXPERIENCE BUT HE'S A GREAT PLAYER ON DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS. SO LOOK UP EVERYTHING I JUST SAID AND EITHER READ MY COMMENT OR JUST IGNORE THE CAPS EITHER WAY I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU DO ON YOUR COMPUTER SO JUST JUMP OFF MY

"I think your an idiot who can't spell.

Seriously, I like the CB, OL (RT??), or ILB in the first round. I also think they really need to find that young NT to strat grooming."

Posted by: BennyV | February 09, 2009 at 04:15 PM

He leaves out the "e" in safety and hes an idiot who cant spell BUT YOU spell start "strat" and spell you're "your" in the post you call him an idiot? TOO funny!This young man is a fan of MY Dolphins and if you make fun of him again,I will stomp a mud puddle in YOUR arse and walk it dry you pillowbiting JABRONI!

On to much more important issues ie:Miami Dolphin Football!

I(Billy P)would be able to run for 1000 yards or look like a HOF QB behind the OL I will assemble in the next two years so you CASUAL VIEWERS yapping about "trade for Boldin" and/or "draft Crabtree" and/or "Ginns a bust" should just go back to being Madden All-Stars,mash your buttons and leave the tried and true methodical DYNASTY building formula to me kids.

I know it isnt sexy to you kids BUT I will do MY thing and you will have the pleasure of watching our OL and DL's TOTALLY dominate the LOS,sprinkle in a few playmakers here and there,draft a few diamonds in the rough,groom young talent to step in when the others have lost a couple of steps,consistently get VERY DEEP in the Playoffs and I'll even throw in a couple of SB's plus you'll get to watch "poor schlubs" like Mando chase me around..what could be more entertaining than that?


J-p, i can see you're a fins fan and that's good.so don't worry about that a -hole tony gets boned .Just write about your our phins anyway you want ,we know what your trying to say.

J-P J Allen sucks. T Bone has been my nickname since your momma sucked on my steak. Quit posting in CAPS DUMBA$$.I do not have time to read every interview with stupid a$$ reporter that writes for every newspaper.I have seen every Dolphins game since since 1975.I know more about the Dolphins than you have forgot.Go suck J. Allen off and shut up.I will never read one of your posts again because you are mentally retarded.You and your rear buddy all dumba** fan have fun with the tube of lube.

Mando-Enough censorship.Dumb a@@ coments are bad enough but the ability to talk back and smack is better.

Chris: I appreciate you posting your opinions on here, but if all you're doing is posting a link to your opinion on another site, that's going to be deleted because all you are doing is encouraging folks to leave my site and go to yours.

Post your opinion here in complete sentences and then provide the link if you want. Saying this is my opinion: then the link isn't working for me.

Tony: No idea what you are talking about.

YOU SHOULD NOW ALOT ABOUT TUBES OF LUBE WITH A POST NAME LIKE " GETTING BONED BY BIG GIANT T BONES" IN THE REAR.YEAH TONY GETS BONED BY BONES.

J-P I tried to look up your info and all I found was dumb*ss.Post next time when you grow up.I am sure Mommy took the computer away by now.AND TOOK THE ALL CAPS BUTTON OFF FOR You too.Good .Now go suck your bottle of formula and rest.Sleep tight.Post here when you have a thought.Bye.Sweet Dreams.

remind me again why we didn't draft charles godfrey out of iowa last year when we had the opportunity...

HEY TONY GETS BONED BY GIANT BONES,GUESS WHAT? CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS AND OH YEAH GO DOLPINS .

GROW UP ? THAT'S FUNNY COMING OUT OF YOUR BONES IN MOUTH.YOU MENTIONED YOU FOLLOWED FOOTBALL SINCE 1975 ,SO WHAT DOES THAT MAKE YOU ? ,OVER 40 AND YOUR TALKING ABOUT TUBES OF LUBE,TAKING T-BONES IN THE REAR,AND SUCKING MILK BOTTLES,LOL,TAKE YOUR BONES IN THE REAR AND TAKE A LOOK IN THE MIRROR.GO DOLPHINS.

t-bone i think it's fans like you that give fans a bad rep j allen if he was so bad of a player he would be with the zach thomas l.j.shelton chris crocker derrick hagans ect... all those guys couldn't cut it in bill parcells eyes if you watch the game like you say you do (since 1975) maybe the game has gotten away from you or is too fast cause j allen is why they traded travis daniels and cut michael leahan so the coaches know he can play but y are you so mad at this man have you ever played football (high school pop warner or any where )no i don't think so you trying to live your dreams through others so chill out and don't worry about who should be on miami's roster (not a gm either) so chill out tony

jason allen is solid on special teams and an ok back up just cuz he hasnt lived up to being a first round pick doesnt mean we should discard him.
I think bell is a stud.
And you ppl are under estimating Crowder and Hills contribution. If they can upgrade they should, but i wouldnt mind keeping crowder even if we draft a line backer high.

And Carey is Solid.

1 2 »

The comments to this entry are closed.