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40 posts from February 2009

February 17, 2009

Breaking down Miami's options at WR

The Dolphins have a problem, which is no secret to anyone who was paying attention in 2008 and, thankfully, is no secret to them. The Dolphins need more offensive firepower.

And they need it most at the wide receiver spot.

The question is how do the Dolphins address the problem? Well, the next three months or so will offer Big Tuna Bill Parcells and Tuna Helper Jeff Ireland the opportunity to address this, and their other personnel issues.

As it pertains to receivers the Dolphins are considering a three-pronged possibility for adding talent. They can draft a receiver, they can sign a free agent receiver, or they can trade for a receiver. I'm giving you their options in the order the team would most prefer to solve the issue -- through the draft is always the preference with this group.

So let's break down the possibilities and what is available:

The draft -- There will be 31 wide receivers at the NFL scouting combine, which begins Wednesday. The Dolphins would love the best-case scenario to play out and find a star among this group or among the list of draft-eligible receivers that will not be at the combine. That's because these players are the youngest, the cheapest and, in most cases, the ones most easily molded to Miami's culture.

But this is also the hardest area in which to find that star because it's a crapshoot with unproven players and, unlike last season when Miami had high picks in practically every round, Parcells and Ireland don't have more ammunition than everybody else.

Despite that truth, the Dolphins should be able to land a solid receiver among their first three picks if they wish. Miami has nine overall picks but two-second round selections in addition to their first-rounder. By the end of the second round the Dolphins will have had the opportunity to select players they are already tracking, with some of these being North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks, Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi, Cal Poly's Ramses Barden, Kenny Britt of Rutgers, and Ohio State's Brian Robiskie.

All have excellent size. Barden is something of a freak at 6-6 and 227 pounds. All will be trying to run well either at the combine or at their pro days to show they have speed or quickness to go along with their size. As you read in my previous blog post, draft guru Mel Kiper has the Dolphins taking Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first round.

Mel admits he will likely change that in his next mock draft, which will come after the combine. He believes the Dolphins might also take outside linebacker Clay Matthews of USC. Maybe, but I don't see Miami going to OLB in the first round unless a great player falls. The Dolphins did invest in Derek Cameron Wake for that position.

But I digress.

Some darkhorse, later-round receivers the Dolphins are studying include Marko Mitchell of Nevada, Dominique Edison of Stephen F. Austin, and North Carolina's Brandon Tate, who is a likely a second-day project based on the fact he tore his ACL and MCL in October and didn't really flash bigtime as a WR until that injury-shortened senior season.

Free agency -- The Dolphins like restricted free agent Miles Austin of the Cowboys but if he is tagged with a second-round tender as has been reported, that Miami interest is likely to wane.

New Orleans receiver Lance Moore, another restricted free agent, is a possibility as the Saints must tag him higher than his draft round because he went undrafted out of Toledo. Moore caught 79 passes for 928 yards with 10 touchdowns last season so, again, depending on his tender, he could be an option.

The group of unrestricted free agents, unlike the restricted players, isn't very good. T.J. Houshmandzadeh ... (gotta rest the fingers a second after typing that name) ... is probably the best of the group but, geez, the guy is soon to be 32 years old and he's a possession guy. He's also going to be expensive. So he doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Amani Toomer, 34, should be available but he'd be a great fit if this was 1999 rather than 2009.

Parcells has kept his eye on Tampa Bay's Antonio Bryant despite a previous fallout between the two men, but I don't see the Bucs letting Bryant walk. There are also legitimate questions whether the sometimes troubled Byrant has matured enough to produce after signing a big contract.

Pittsburgh's Nate Washington is not a No. 1 guy today but could develop into something special. San Francisco's Bryant Johnson is an underachiever and not a playmaker. One other guy to keep in mind is Devery Henderson of New Orleans. He has good speed and his agent is Jimmy Sexton, who is also the agent for Parcells and coach Tony Sparano

So the pickings are slim here.

Trade -- The players available include or may eventually include Anquan Boldin, Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, and Plaxico Burress.

Let us not mince words here: There is no chance the Dolphins acquire Johnson, Owens or Burress. The Second Coming happening Wednesday is more likely than Miami spending picks and new contract money for Johnson, Burress or Owens.

Boldin? That's a different story.

Boldin is out there and the Dolphins know it as they received the same letter agent Drew Rosenhaus sent the 31 other teams about Boldin being available. And although the Cardinals are publicly saying they will not trade Boldin, I dismiss that because that is what they must say now to drive up the price on him. That decision is not final and the proof is no one in the Arizona organization has definitively said Boldin will not be traded. They may eventually arrive at that stance, but not yet, not even close.

So it remains a possibility. I asked a Miami team source recently if there was a possibility the Dolphins might try to land Boldin through trade if he becomes officially available. His reaction surprised me. He didn't say, "No." He didn't say, "That's ridiculous."

He said, "Anquan Boldin is a very good player under contract with another team and I'm not at liberty to discuss him because that would be tampering." At which point I reminded the person I'm not publishing his name, and he said, "That's all I'm saying on that."

The point is my question was not dismissed. It was dodged. And knowing this source, he dismisses questions that have no roots in facts or serious possibility. And he dodges or double-speaks on some legitimate ones he doesn't want to address.

Am I saying the Dolphins will be the team Boldin ends up playing for in 2009? No. But am I saying you should definitely excuse them from an interested group of suitors that might include Philadelphia, the Giants, Bears, and Raiders? Absolutely not.

So those are the scenarios. The Dolphins have a receiver problem. They know it. They are going to try to solve it. How do you think they should do it? How do you think they will do it?

February 16, 2009

Kiper: Ryan better than Henne, Pennington

Kiper The NFL draft combine in Indianapolis starts Thursday and to celebrate all the attention and focus we are about to lend to a bunch of dudes running around in shorts and doing everything except, you know, blocking and tackling and making plays from scrimmage, I present to you draft guru Mel Kiper.

He hates the Dolphins.

Let me correct that. Mel is a good man. He knows his stuff and he's great on TV. And he doesn't hate the Dolphins.

He just hates some of the stuff the Dolphins have done in recent drafts ... including drafting offensive tackle Jake Long with the first overall pick last year while passing on quarterback Matt Ryan.

To hear Mel explain it last week during a TWO-HOUR conference call with reporters, he thinks if Chad Henne does not become every bit the equal of Ryan in the next couple of years, the Dolphins will be proven to have made a grand mistake in Bill Parcells' first Miami draft.

And that is regardless of what Long, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, does. The thinking is a QB has the most important job in football and the Dolphins had a chance to get a very good QB in Ryan. So Henne better eventually erase that misdeed because, according to Mel, Ryan is better than any QB Miami can put on the field right now.

"They passed on Matt Ryan," Mel said. "And I've said all along, it's nice to have Jake Long and all that but Chad Pennington is kind of a plateau quarterback right now as we saw in the playoffs, which we knew going in, and Chad Henne is going to be the guy that will be compared to Matt Ryan.

"Three or four years down the road, Dolphins fans are going to be looked at and we'll say, "OK you could have had Matt Ryan and you didn't take him. Where's Matt Ryan? Where's Chad Henne?' And we better hope Chad Henne is right where Matt Ryan is or that was a bad move not taking Matt Ryan.

"So we kind of gave them a free pass last year not taking Ryan. But I'm not giving them a free pass. I want to see how this all shakes [out] down the line. They could have taken Ryan and didn't take him. And I think Ryan is better than Henne and right now Ryan is better than Pennington."

Mel also is not a big fan of Ted Ginn Jr., another former first round pick of the Dolphins. He thought, and I agree, the Dolphins reached for Ginn with the ninth overall selection in the 2007 draft. And he doesn't buy the argument that Ginn's kick return prowess made him a dual threat, thus a better selection at No. 9.

"I don't think you draft a kid that high based on his return skills," Mel said. "I remember when Miami drafted Ted Ginn and Cam Cameron made that statement. It was like, "Are you kidding me?" You just don't draft a kid that high based on return skill. You just don't do that. You draft Ted Ginn based on his wide receiver skills.

" ... If you have to hang your hat on what kind of returner he is, that means he's a disappointment as a wide receiver. You can get returners as free agents. The Ravens proved that with B.J. Sams a long time ago and we saw that all the way through the history of the NFL.... Leon Washington wasn't a first or second round pick with the Jets."

Mel wasn't a big fan of drafting Ginn at No. 9 in 2007 and believes the Dolphins should pick a receiver at No. 25 now, in part, because Ginn hasn't stepped forward as the spark the Miami offense needs.

"Wide receiver is a need area," Mel said. "There's no question offensively this team needs some juice."

Mel projects the Dolphins picking Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first round. I don't agree with that. I think the Dolphins can find receivers in later rounds and I think they will be prone to fill other needs -- specifically in the secondary, the front seven and offensive line -- in the first round.

I also believe the Dolphins already have their eyes on guys such as North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks and Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi and Cal Poly's Ramses Barden and Rutgers' Kenny Britt and Ohio State's Brian Robiskie after the first round.

Heyward-Bey, fast and big, is also maddeningly inconsistent. And Mel admits that when pressed.

"Heyward-Bey, his route running at times he doesn't push it enough," Mel said. "He's going to have to turn that intensity dial up a bit ... In some games he looks like a top 10-15 pick. In other games, he's completely off the radar a bit."

Mel later calls Heyward-Bey a, "borderline first round pick."

So why would the Dolphins pick him?

Now, in discussing this post, I don't want it to become a ripfest on Mel Kiper. That's just dumb. If you disagree with him and believe LT Jake Long is just as valuable as the best QB in last year's draft, say WHY, give a reason, use your head and make the point!

If you think Mel is wrong in saying Ryan is better than Pennington and Henne, give reasons for that. Mel sucks is not a reason. Armando sucks is definitely not a reason. Show some intelligence, blogosphere ... I will not hold my breath.

Finally, The Herald is considering many innovative things for this very popular blog. And in planning that innovation we need to know what types of mobile phones you are using. So please tell us in your post. [Do not respond, 'The type you talk into.']

LB Carpenter might still have "the makeup"

Bill Parcells likes some players because they have, "the makeup." No, we're not talking eyeliner or lipstick here -- although some of your responses suggest some of you guys would like that. The makeup is about a player's disposition, work ethic, desire, ability, intelligence and other things that make him successful.

Of course, Parcells misses on some of these guys, but sometimes the guys Parcells identifies as having, "the makeup," don't succeed only because they're not given the right opportunity, or perhaps they are sidtracked by injuries. As Curley of the Three Stooges would say, they're victims of circumstances.

Bobby Carpenter might be one such player. When he was in Dallas, Parcells picked Carpenter with the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 draft. Carpenter, 6-2 and 250 pounds, didn't blossom in the one year Parcells was there and has fallen behind on the depth chart the past couple of seasons.

Last year the Cowboys wanted inside linebacker help and they signed Zach Thomas. This year, they're talking of trying to sign Ray Lewis. Carpenter is seemingly never in the conversation.

And that might make Carpenter, bordering on becoming a bust in Dallas, a possible Parcells target in the coming weeks as the Dolphins search for inside linebacker help. Understand that the Dolphins showed mild interest in trading for Carpenter last season but the Cowboys rebuffed the overtures.

But after yet another season of unmet expectations in which Carpenter played only 13 games without any starts and was almost exclusively a special teams player, the Cowboys might be ready to cut their losses on this player.They would surely listen to overtures up until the April draft.

And if the Cowboys are willing, you can bet one person on the other end of the phone ringing in Jerry Jones' office might be Parcells. It should not surprise.

Parcells and Jones made significant trades last year when Jason Ferguson, Akin Ayodele and Anthony Fasano came to Miami in exchange for draft choices. All those trades worked for the Dolphins so why wouldn't Parcells make a play for Carpenter?

You might argue Carpenter isn't worthy of the trouble. After all, he hasn't shown the physical ability to take on and shed blockers, and his reaction time to the ballcarrier has seemed slow at times. That isn't a problem if you play receiver. But for a linebacker? It's a problem.

But what if Carpenter just needs some different coaching? What if he needs the delicate touch and mild mannered encouragement the Dolphins staff would apply?

Didn't it work for Fasano? The tight end was considered something of a bust in Dallas after being picked in the second round in 2006. But in Miami he caught six more passes in 2008 than he did in his first two seasons in Dallas -- 34 receptions compared to 28. Fasano blossomed in Miami.

Carpenter might also.

For perspective, please understand what we're talking about here: Despite his first-round pedigree, Carpenter wouldn't bring anything near a first day pick in return. He is a 7th-round pick or 6th-round pick kind of trade bait. Unlike receiver Miles Austin, another Cowboys player and a restricted free agent the Dolphins have interest in and I told you about weeks ago, Carpenter would come cheap or not at all.

The Cowboys would be trading to cut their losses. Parcells would be trading to try and see if the spark of talent he spotted years ago might actually kindle into a flame.

I'm not saying it is definitely going to happen. But don't be surprised if it does. 

February 15, 2009

Sunday column: Miami's great QB situation

Some reasons it's good to be a Dolphins fan these days are that the fact the team didn't spend the last month looking for a new coach and it won't be spending the next couple of months searching for a new starting quarterback.

As I detail in my most recent Sunday Dolphins column the Dolphins are blessed with a drama-free offseason at the two most important jobs in the organization. And it has been a looooong time since that happened.

I make the case that not only is the quarterback situation a stable one for Miami, but it is practically impossible to screw it up because most every scenario that can affect the club's QB spot will pretty much take care of itself for Miami.

Chad Pennington plays great? That will take care of itself.

Chad Pennington bombs and needs to be replaced? That will take care of itself.

Chad Henne is handed the offense or spends another season on the sideline? That will take care of itself.

Anyway, read the column and see if you agree. Meanwhile, what is your optimal QB scenario for the Dolphins? Do you folks want Pennington to continue driving the ship of Miami fortunes? Or do you want him to actually fail, thus giving way to Henne?

Or do you think there should be some strange shared situation at the QB job? Hopefully no one is whacky enough to pick this option.

By the way, if you wish to discuss this or any other Dolphins issue with me, you can do so today live on the radio today. I'll be on 790 The Ticket here in South Florida from noon to 3 p.m. If you don't live here, you can listen live online at 790theticket.com and call in toll free from anywhere in the country at 1-888-790-3776. 

February 13, 2009

What's so special about special teams?

Everyone remembers last offseason the Dolphins spent a lot of time and resouces during free agency improving their special teams.

Keith Davis was signed to help on special teams. Charlie Anderson was signed to help on special teams. Reggie Torbor, we were told, would help on special teams. The Dolphins made a lot of elitist fans, people who think they know more about football than the average Mando, really happy because they were spending tons of time on their special teams.

Me? I want more points on offense and want the defense to yield fewer points. But I digress.

Earlier this week, a special teams study in the The Dallas Morning News showed which teams had great special teams play in 2008, and which did not. And, not surprisingly to anyone who watched the Dolphins throughout the season, Miami's special teams weren't really that special.

But the chart also shows something the elitists didn't expect: Special teams play is seriously overrated. That's right, spending undue time, effort and salary cap resources on special teams was something of a no-win proposition, at least in 2008.

If you study the overall chart, the worst special teams in the league belonged to the Indianapolis Colts, a team that won 12 games. The Dolphins were 30th and they won 11 games and the AFC East. The Arizona Cardinals were 28th and they won the NFC title and went to the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl champion Steelers were 20th, for goodness sake!

And the great special teams units, the ones that dominated the NFL? They didn't fare so well. 

Take the Buffalo Bills.

They have the distinction of being the best special teams in the NFL for the third time in five years -- and they have not made the playoffs any of those seasons. In fact, the Bills haven't been in the playoffs since the dawn of the new century.

The Cleveland Browns had a great special teams, according to the rankings. They were No. 3 and they didn't make the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders were No. 5. and they were terrible overall. In all, seven of the NFL's top 10 special teams units spent the postseason in front of their TVs watching teams with poor special teams compete for a Super Bowl berth.

So next time you hear a team, specifically the Dolphins, talk of improving the special teams, your reaction should be: So?

February 12, 2009

The Dolphins philosophy on their free agents

Free agency is only two weeks away, which would suggest some last-second dealing between the Dolphins and their half-dozen important unrestricted free agents is still possible. Those talks might ordinarily occur face-to-face at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next week.

Except that's not really how the Dolphins work anymore.

The days of an eleventh-hour move by the team to bring an important player on board are long gone. Miami's philosophy these days?

The Dolphins long ago set their internal value on their free agents and have made offers to the ones they are interested in retaining, which is to say all of them, with those values in mind. It is the first step of the free agency game plan and the Dolphins aren't likely to stray from the plan at the last minute.

A Dolphins source on Wednesday explained that once the team set a value for each player, it talked to agents, and in some cases the players themselves, to help that side understand the club's thinking.

"We want everybody back," the source said. "We don't want to lose anybody. But we have what we think is the right price for every player and that's what we're willing to pay. We've told each guy, 'It's not personal and it's not that we don't like you.' But we have a plan and a value and that's what we're willing to pay. Maybe some other team will pay more and if that's the case, good for them. But we're going to pay what we think the player is worth.

"Does that mean we might lose some players? That's possible. We've lost 20 players in the past we didn't want to lose."

This doesn't mean there might not be some wiggle room. There is always wiggle room. But it strongly suggests the Dolphins and players such as Yeremiah Bell, Andre' Goodman, Vernon Carey, Renaldo Hill, Al Johnson, and Channing Crowder will not suddenly have a joint epiphany and come to a last-second, pre-free agency deal.

Unless some of the agents representing the players suddenly see their clients as Miami sees them, many of these guys will hit free agency Feb. 27.

That certainly is true of Crowder. He and agent Joel Segal have scheduled no talks nor negotiations with the Dolphins between now and the start of free agency. [Negotiation fact: It's hard to get a deal if the sides ain't talking.]

Segal, a skilled dealmaker, has an offer from the Dolphins in hand, according to a source. He also has his price for Crowder's worth. And even as Crowder has been working out at the Dolphins facility as often as four days per weeks since the end of the season, there is a distinct difference of opinion on Crowder's value between the player side and the team side.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus represents Bell and Hill. He hopes to talk to the Dolphins before the start of free agency, but again, unless he lowers his asking price -- particularly for Bell -- the strong safety seems likely to test the market.

And it bears noting that once a player has waited this long, once he is only two weeks from the start of free agency, he becomes harder to sign because the open market lure can be quite inviting. It also bears stating that sometimes the team underestimates a player's worth.

The Dolphins may or may not be doing this with Carey, as he is one of the few starting caliber tackles on the market. But there is nothing that says the team won't have time to recover from any miscalculation. Most agents are more than happy to bring back an offer for their player in hopes of leveraging a better offer.

I doubt the Dolphins would go for that very often, but the possibility exists.

None of this is written to be divisive or pit team against players. It is just the reality of the situation between the Dolphins and their unrestricted free agents now.

One more thing: The start of free agency every year signals some of great fiction writing in journalism as agents and teams and other sources feed sportswriters contract numbers for the freshly minted free agents. Many times those numbers come with an agenda and are nowhere close to accurate. I know, I've made the mistake of trusting people's word only to be disappointed when the truth comes out.

One recent example of this is the contract signed by Derek Cameron Wake. It was widely reported in January he signed a four-year deal that could be worth $4.9 million. Nope.

Wake's salary is scheduled at $310,000 in 2009, $395,000 in 2010, $480,000 in 2011 and $565,000 in 2012. That adds up to $1.75 million. He got approximately $1 million in bonuses and guarantees which bring the deal to about $2.7 million and he has another $900,000 or so in incentives that bring the potential total of the deal to about $3.6 million.

But what's $1.3 million between friends?

February 11, 2009

What does Favre retirement mean to Dolphins?

First of all let us assume that Brett Favre's retirement announcement today sticks. Let us assume he won't vacillate and want to return to the New York Jets before this offseason ends. Let us assume he won't be New York's starting quarterback next season or even be on Gang Green's roster.

What does that mean to the Dolphins?

Quarterback Chad Pennington, who came to the Dolphins when Favre was hired by the Jets, declined to comment Wednesday.

Coach Tony Sparano, whose team will face the Jets twice in 2009, also declined to comment while suggesting it is not his concern.

But it is something for Miami fans to think about because the strength or weakness of the Jets at the QB spot will help determine the outcome of two Miami games in 2009. So let us analyze the situation:

The knee-jerk response suggests this is a good thing for our locals.

It means a player who someday will be in the Hall of Fame will not be New York's quarterback in 2009. It means the Jets have to go searching their roster, free agency, or the draft for next year's starter. It means uncertainty at the most important position on the field for the Jets, and uncertainty there is a scary, scary thing.

"I wouldn't say we're better off, I wouldn't say that," Jets safety Kerry Rhodes said on ESPN.

The Jets have Kellen Clemens as the possible heir to the starting job, but the team has never really seemed committed to giving him the reins to the offense. Clemens will be in his fourth season out of Oregon and has started eight games, all in 2007. He has five touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his career.

The Jets also have two other quarterbacks on the roster -- Eric Ainge and Brett Ratliff -- but neither has taken a snap in an NFL regular-season game. Good stuff for Miami.

So it looks good at first glance for the Dolphins. But I remind you uncertainty is a two-edged sword. Today's retirement can also be a blessing for the Jets. After all, who knew the Patriots would find a franchise quarterback in their midst upon losing Tom Brady?

The Jets are suddenly without an aging player who dipped dramatically at the end of last season as his team lost four of its final five games. Favre's arm was tired and he looked all of his 39 years, as he threw seven interceptions versus only two TD passes the final three games.

So the Jets don't have a fading starting QB anymore, which might be understood to be an upgrade. The Favre retirement also clears $13 million in salary cap space for a team that was projected to have serious cap issues this offseason. That is a relief that club will welcome as now the Jets are projected to be $11 million under the cap.

The Dolphins, by comparison, are projected to be $22 million under the cap. And while we're at it, the Bills are projected to be $25 million under the cap while New England is projected at $4 million under. New England's number will change if Matt Cassel is traded as he is currently counting $14.65 million against the cap.

Back to the Jets: There are experienced starting-caliber quarterbacks expected to hit the free agent market in the next few weeks. That list includes Jeff Garcia and Byron Leftwich and former Giants starter Kerry Collins.

Bottom line: It can be argued the Jets have an opportunity to upgrade from a quarterback that threw 22 TD passes and 22 interceptions in his final season, a quarterback who took 30 sacks, a quarterback who was something of a distraction because he often seemed bigger than the team itself.

OK, so where do you come down on this issue? Is Favre's retirement a good thing or a bad thing as it ripples out to the Dolphins?

February 10, 2009

Reasons Dolphins might not cut Ernest Wilford

The Dolphins personnel department got lots of things absolutely right in 2008. Signing receiver Ernest Wilford as an unrestricted free agent was not one of them.

And while just about any fan would say the best way to correct the mistake is to simply cut Wilford this offseason, the Dolphins have not and might not be able to take that quick road to redemption with their enigmatic receiver.

The reason? NFL accounting rules have changed this offseason and that means teams, including Miami, must immediately account for the salary cap consequences of the moves they make. The fact there is no scheduled salary cap in 2010 has forced the NFL to change rules and one rule change is that teams can no longer defer the cap hit for a player into next year by releasing the player after June 1.

If a team releases a player this offseason, be it before, on, or after June 1, the entire amount of prorated guaranteed money comes due immediately.

So what does that mean to Miami as it pertains to Wilford?

Well, believe it or not, it would cost the Dolphins more money to cut Wilford in 2009 than to keep him on the roster. Here's how it works:

Wilford signed a four-year, $13 million contract last February that included $6 million in guaranteed signing bonus. Wilford, who caught only three passes all season, is due $1.5 million in 2009 base salary. Add the $1.5 million he costs the team in prorated bonus -- $6 million divided by 4 years = $1.5 million per year -- and his 2009 salary cap number if he stays with the team is $3 million.

But because the new rules would force the Dolphins to absorb the entire proration for all three remaining years of Wilford's contract if he is cut, he would cost the team $4.5 million against the cap were the team to simply get rid of him. That figure is the yearly $1.5 million prorated portion of his bonus multiplied by the deal's three remaining years.

Is that crazy? The Dolphins would actually cost themselves $1.5 million in cap space by cutting Wilford versus keeping him, an empty space costing more than one occupied by Wilford.

The numbers are simply against the Dolphins this year. It makes more financial sense for them to take Wilford to training camp and try, hope, pray, to get something out of the guy. Maybe he suddenly gets it and contributes. Maybe some other receiver-hungry team comes calling and the Dolphins can trade Wilford and his contract for a draft pick.

But simply whack the guy? The desire to make a produce-or-else point would have to be great because the cap consequences suggest it shouldn't be done.

One more thing: The numbers are in Wilford's favor this year, but they turn after this season, assuming there is a salary cap in 2010 and beyond. (One would have to be collectively bargained, as none is currently scheduled.)

Keeping Wilford for 2010 would cost the Dolphins $3.5 million against the cap, or $2 million in his scheduled base salary plus the $1.5 million bonus proration. But cutting Wilford would cost the Dolphins $3 million in cap space, a savings of $500,000.

In 2011 the situation grows more dire for Wilford and I would say he'll never see that season in a Miami uniform. He would cost the Dolphins $4 million in cap space that year, but only $1.5 million if the team cuts him. That year, Ernest will not go to camp.

This year, meanwhile, the numbers say he probably will.

February 09, 2009

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 ... 

Jake Long on ankle injury: "I feel fine"

Jake Long dismissed worries he re-injured his right ankle during the final minutes of Sunday's Pro Bowl by saying, the injury is, "nothing," and adding, "I feel fine," in his postcard from Hawaii on the Dolphins website.

Long suffered the injury when Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware rolled into his right ankle as Long was blocking another player. Long had injured the same ankle in a November loss to New England.

Time to breathe deep now. It's OK.

Long played well in this, his first Pro Bowl. He played exclusively at right tackle although he spent his entire rookie season as the left tackle anchor of the Miami offensive line. Long did not yield a sack during the game while both Michael Roos and Joe Thomas of the AFC gave up sacks.


February 08, 2009

Long injures right ankle in Pro Bowl

Jake Long tweaked his right ankle during the fourth quarter of the Pro Bowl Sunday, no doubt sending a chill through Dolphins fans watching the game.

The seriousness of the injury remains unclear for now.

Long left the game when the injury occurred with less than three minutes to play. Long, in his first Pro Bowl after a successful rookie season, was playing at right tackle at the time as that is the position he manned the entire game for the AFC.

The injury happened when NFC rusher DeMarcus Ware rolled onto the side of Long's right ankle as Long was engaged with another player. Long remained on the turf in obvious pain or several minutes.

Long injured the same right ankle in the November loss to the New England Patriots but missed no playing time during the season.

The NFC beat the AFC, 30-21.

Sunday: Dolphins column and live Pro Bowl blog

Who said Sunday's aren't interesting when the Dolphins aren't playing?

Today I want to announce The Miami Herald is returning the Sunday Dolphins column to its pages. The Sunday Dolphins column was a weekly staple of The Herald's coverage years ago but for some reason it got lost in translation after I left and then returned from ESPN.

Circulation has dropped dramatically in the absence of the weekly Dolphins column. Coincidence?

Anyway, the column is back triumphantly starting this week and in today's return edition I look at a couple of the many difficult, and likely painful, decisions the Dolphins will have to make in the coming weeks. Unlike last year when trimming fat was easy for Bill Parcells and Co., this offseason will be tougher to find excess weight on the roster.

This week's column focuses on Vonnie Holliday and Vernon Carey, who were valuable contributors to Miami's 2008 success. Neither are guaranteed of being part of the team in 2009.

The column tells you why that is and opines what the Dolphins should do with these two players. A couple of things: The countdown is now on for how long it will take other local publications to start publishing a Sunday Dolphins column. My guess is two weeks, max. Secondly, on Monday's blog I'll give you the rundown on the other players mentioned in the column.

As for today's Pro Bowl game blog ..

I will be doing a live blog right here starting at 4:30 p.m.

Why am I doing this, you might ask?

Well, there are three Dolphins in the game -- Jake Long, Joey Porter and Ronnie Brown -- and there are lots and lots of free agents in the game, namely Nnamdi Asomugha, who I think is the top player of all the UFAs that might hit the market in a couple of weeks.

Anquan Boldin and Albert Haynesworth are also in the game so ... well, you know what I'm thinking.

The other reason there will be a live blog at 4:30 is I have no freakin' life!

So come right back here at 4:30 p.m. and we'll watch the game together and blog it live.

Aloha. Or whatever.

February 06, 2009

ESPN: Parcells can walk out at any time

If you read this blog regularly (and why wouldn't you, right?) you might remember that during Super Bowl week I reported Bill Parcells was telling his media pals reports of his 30-day opt-out clause were not entirely accurate. You have to scroll down to find the post headlined: "Parcells: Opt-out reports not entirely correct."

Well, a few minutes ago, ESPN went a significant step further in confirming the 30-day window is not correct and, in fact, Parcells can walk anytime he wants.  

According to ESPN, Wayne Huizenga and Parcells removed the 30-day window from Parcells's contract about three weeks before the sale of the team to new owner Stephen Ross closed. But in its place, Parcells can now leave the Dolphins anytime and still collect all the money due in the contract.

So what does this mean?

A couple of things:

Parcells has said he is "definitely," staying in 2009. But it now makes this year one in which Parcells will get the measure of Ross and decide how much he likes working for him. After the season, Parcells can decide to stay or leave, depending on how he views things.

That's great for Parcells. And not so great for the Dolphins because Miami would get ZERO compensation of any kind if Big Tuna decided he wants to go work immediately for another organization.

Secondly, the ESPN revelation today means there will be an annual chase to see what Bill wants to do, whether Bill is happy and content, and whether Bill wants to stay or go.

That's also great for Parcells. And not so great for the schlubs like me that have to chase him around.

February 05, 2009

Complete RFA list here (updated with video)

NFL teams don't typically dive into the restricted free agent talent pool because the unrestricted free agent pool is so much more inviting. UFAs don't require teams to compensate the old team with draft picks. RFAs often do, the original teams typically have right of first refusal, and so teams often shy away.

I do not expect the Dolphins to make a big splash in restricted free agency. They did not last year. But Tuna Helper Jeff Ireland is going to scour the list below -- this one acquired from the National Football League Players Association by Dolphins In Depth -- and I would not be surprised if he seriously considers at least one player from the list.

Obvious player of interest to the Dolphins: Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys.

Austin, 24, is typical of the type of receiver Ireland and Bill Parcells covet. He's 6-3, 216 pounds, and he's proven he can stretch the field a little bit. In 2008 he caught 13 passes for 278 yards, which translates to a 21.4 yards per catch average. He had three touchdown receptions.

He can also return kicks, and should you not believe that, watch this:

The compensation for restricted free agents is based on the tender amount the original team places on the player. The beauty of Austin is that he was undrafted out of Monmouth in New Jersey. That means the Cowboys cannot put a draft choice compensation on him because the guy wasn't drafted so they would get nothing for him.

Of course, they can put a higher compensation on Austin but that takes up salary cap space -- approximately $1.5 million -- and the 'Boys are not exactly in cap space overflow. So they may have to expose Austin in hopes nodoby taps him, or with the expectation they will match whatever contract another team might offer. That is also dangerous as there are poison pills a team can put into any contract that would virtually guarantee the old team wouldn't match an offer.

None of those are pleasant thoughts for the Cowboys.

So all this makes Austin palatable to a receiver-hungry team like the Dolphins, one that happens to have a very good feel for the makeup Austin brings to the locker room and field. I grant you the guy is raw and young. He would not be signed to save Miami's receivers corps. He would be signed to add depth and compete and see what happens.

But he's worthy of keeping in mind.

OK, here is the rest of the restricted free agents (RFAs). Two days ago I gave you the list of the Unrestricted Free Agents so you can check back to that post if you want the full picture. The Dolphins, in case you are wondering, do not have any RFAs.

Arizona Cardinals: TE Leonard Pope, DT Gabe Watson.

Atlanta Falcons: OL Tyson Clabo, OL Harvey Dahl, S Jamal Fudge, OL Patrick McCoy, OL Ben Wilkerson.

Buffalo Bills: LB John DiGiorgio, LB Keith Ellison, S Dustin Fox, QB Gibran Hamdan, WR Justin Jenkins, WR George Wilson.

Baltimore Ravens: DE Sean Conover, RB P.J. Daniels, P/K Sam Koch, S Dawan Landry, CB Derrick Martin, WR Marcus Maxwell, LB Robert McCune, DT Brandon McKinney, CB Evan Oglesby, TE Quinn Sypniewski, WR Demetrius Williams.

Cincinnati Bengals: S John Busing, RB De De Dorsey, WR Glenn Holt, LB Rashad Jeanty, LB Brandon Johnson, LB Corey Mays.

Carolina Panthers:  LB James Anderson, DT Gary Gibson, TE Jeff King, S Nate Salley.

Denver Broncos: OL Erik Pears.

Dallas Cowboys: WR Miles Austin, DE Stephen Bowen, TE Tony Curtis, WR Sam Hurd, OL Corey Procter.

Green Bay Packers: S Atari Bigby, WR Shaun Bodiford, CB Jarrett Bush, TE Troy Humphry, TE Jason Hunter, RB John Kuhn, WR Ruvell Martin.

Houston Texans: WR David Anderson, OL Rashad Butler, DE Earl Cochran, TE Owen Daniels, TE Joel Dreessen, DE Stanley McClover.

Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Brian Iwuh, RB Montell Owens, DE James Wyche.

Kansas City Chiefs: OL Rudy Niswanger, S Jarrad Page, WR Jeff Webb.

Minnesota Vikings: DT Fred Evans, CB Charles Gordon, DE Otis Grigsby, DE Jayme Mitchell, RB, Naufahu Tahi.

 New England Patriots: LB Eric Alexander, OL Wesley Britt, LB Pierre Woods.

New Orleans Saints: OL Jahri Evans, WR Lance Moore, WR Courtney Roby, DT Montavious Stanley, OL Zach Strief, CB Leigh Torrence.

New York Giants: CB Kevin Dockery.

New York Jets: S Abram Elam.

Oakland Raiders:  LB Jon Alston, LB Ricky Brown.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Hank Baskett, OL Nick Cole, WR Willie Reid.

Pittsburgh Steelers: OL Willie Colon, LB Arnold Harrison, CB Anthony Madison, TE Sean McHugh, S Anthony Smith.

San Diego Chargers: WR Malcom Floyd, CB Cletis Gordon.

San Francisco 49ers: RB Zak Keasey.

St. Louis Rams: DE Victor Adeyanju, C Ritchie Incognito, OL Mark Setterstrom.

Seattle Seahawks: LB Lance Laury.

Tampa Bay Bucs: OL Donald Penn.

Tennessee Titans: LB Charles Bennett.

Washington Redskins: S Reed Doughty, OL Justin Geisinger, DT Kedric Golston, DT Tony Montgomery, K/P Shaun Suisham, LB Rian Wallace.

February 03, 2009

Get your complete list of UFAs right here (free)

Many of you have asked my thoughts on what unrestricted free agents (UFAs) the Dolphins should go after this offseason and my response has been, "Let's see who is on the list before we even have that discussion."

Well, Dolphins In Depth has acquired the complete list of UFAs from the National Football League Players Association. These are merely the UFAs. The restricted free agents (RFAs) will be published on this blog at a later date -- I was too tired to type it all in today.

So here is your homework: Go through the list (yes all of it). Pick out the players you believe might help the Dolphins based on the fact they play in a similar system to what Miami runs, or have the makeup the Dolphins typically value. Or simply pick players because they are great and not terribly old.

Do not include Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha because everyone knows they're great so you wouldn't be discovering any unchartered territory. Then give me your players' names and tell me why you like them.

You asked. Here it is. Go get 'em: 

Arizona Cardinals: RB JJ Arrington, LB Monty Beisel, DE Bertrand Berry, OL Elton Brown, CB Ralph Brown, LB Karlos Dansby, P Ben Graham, CB Eric Green, LB Clark Hagans, OL Scott Peters, DE Antonio Smith, RB Terrelle Smith, QB Brian St. Pierre, QB Kurt Warner.

Atlanta Falcons: LB Michael Boley, De Chauncey Davis, CB Domonique Foxworth, OL Wayne Gandy, DT Grady Jackson, LB Tony Gilbert, DT Jason Jefferson, P/K Michael Koenen, S Lawyer Milloy, TE Justin Peelle, TE Marcus Pollard, LB Coy Wire.

Buffalo Bills: OL Kirk Chambers, LB Angelo Crowell, OL Melvin Fowler, CB Jabari Greer, LB Teddy Lehman, QB JP Losman, RB Corey McIntyre, OL Duke Preston, OL Jason Whittle.

Baltimore Ravens: QB Kyle Boller, QB Todd Bouman, OL Jason Brown, WR Terrance Copper, CB Corey Ivy, S Jim Leonhard, LB Ray Lewis, FB Lorenzo Neal, LB Bart Scott, OL Chad Slaughter, K Matt Stover, DE Terrell Suggs, TE Daniel Wilcox.

Chicago Bears: S Mike Brown, QB Rex Grossman, RB Kevin Jones, WR Brandon Lloyd, LB Darrell McClover, S Brandon McGowan, OL Fred Miller, OL John St. Clair, S Cameron Worrell.

Cleveland Browns: S Mike Adams, CB Travis Daniels, LB Andra Davis, TE Darnell Dinkins, OL Lennie Friedman, LB Kris Griffin, CB Daven Holly, S Sean Jones, LB Willie McGinest, OL Seth McKinney, LB Shantee Orr, RB Jason Wright, OL, Scott Young.

Cincinnati Bengals: OL Stacy Andrews, RB Cedric Benson, LB Darryl Blackstock, S Chris Crocker, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, CB Jamar Fletcher, OL Eric Ghiaciuc, K Shayne Graham, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, DT John Thornton.

Carolina Panthers: LB Donte' Curry, OL Jordan Gross, OL Geoff Hangartner, WR Mark Jones, LB, Jason Kyle, OL Frank Omiyale, DE Julius Peppers, LB Adam Seward, DT Darwin Walker.

Denver Broncos: RB Tatum Bell, De Ebenezer Ekuban, De Carlos Hall, WR Darrell Jackson, S Marlon McCree, C Tom Nalen, CB Karl Paymah, DE Kenny Peterson, RB Michael Pittman, TE Jeb Putzier, QB Patrick Ramsey, WR Edell Shepherd, LB Nate Webster.

Dallas Cowboys: OL Joe Berger, QB Brooks Bollinger, DE Chris Canty, S Keith Davis, DT Tank Johnson, LB Carlos Polk, WR Paris Warren. 

Detroit Lions: RB Aveion Cason, DT Shaun Cody, WR Keary Colbert, OL Damion Cook, OL George Foster, P/K Jason Hanson, RB Rudi Johnson, Paris Lenon, OL Andy McCollum, WR Shaun McDonald, DT Langston Moore, LB Ryan Nece, RB Moran Norris, QB Dan Orlovsky, TE John Owens, OL Stephen Peterman, DE Corey Smith, CB Stanley Wilson.

Green Bay Packers: DT Colin Cole, DE Mike Montgomery, OL Mark Tauscher.

Houston Texans: S C.C. Brown, TE Mark Bruener, CB DeMarcus Faggins, S Nick Ferguson, OL Scott Jackson, OL Bryan Pittman, CB Dunta Robinson, RB Cecil Sapp, OL Chris White, CB Jimmy Williams, S Eugene Wilson, DT Jeff Zgonina.

Indianapolis Colts: RB Najeh Davenport, S Matt Giordano, LB Tyjuan Hagler, CB Kevin Hayden, CB Keiwan Ratliff, DT Darrell Reid, RB Dominic Rhodes, C Jeff Saturday, DE Josh Thomas.

Jacksonville Jaguars: OL Brad Meester, OL Chris Naeole, Rb Alvin Pearman, LB Mike Peterson, S Pierson Prioleau, S Gerald Sensabaugh, CB Scott Starks, TE Joe Zelenka.

Kansas City Chiefs: LB Jason Babin, LB Rocky Boiman, S Oliver Celestin, OL Adrian Jones, S Jon McGraw, LB Patrick Thomas.

Miami Dolphins: S Yeremiah Bell, T Vernon Carey, ILB Channing Crowder, CB Andre' Goodman, S Renaldo Hill, C Al Johnson, WR Tab Perry, LB Derek Smith.

Minnesota Vikings: DT Kendrick Allen, C Matt Birk, S Michael Boulware, LB Heath Farwell, LB Napoleon Harris, DT Jimmy Kennedy, TE Jim Kleinsasser, CB Benny Sapp, S Darren Sharper, LB Dontarrious Thomas, DE Kenechi Udeze, DT Ellis Wyms.

New England Patriots: QB Matt Cassel, LB Roosevelt Colvin, RB Heath Evans, WR Jabar Gaffney, P/K Chris Hanson, S Rodney Harrison, OL Russ Hochstein, LB Larry Izzo, RB LaMont Jordan, CB Deltha O'Neal, OL Lonie Paxton, S James Sanders, CB Lewis Sanders, LB Junior Seau, KT Kenny Smith, OL Barry Stokes, S Tank Williams, DT Mike Wright. 

New Orleans Saints: CB Jeremetrius Butler, TE Mark Campbell, LB Troy Evans, CB Aaron Glenn, K Martin Gramatica, QB Joey Harrington, WR Devery Henderson, S Terrence Holt, DT Antwan Lake, CB Michael Lehan, OL Matt Lehr, DT James Reed, RB Aaron Stecker, OL Jon Stinchcomb, LB Jonathan Vilma,.

New York Giants: S James Butler, P/K John Carney, QB David Carr, RB Brandon Jacobs, DE Jerome McDougle, CB R.W. McQuarters, OL Grey Ruegamer, LB Rich Scanlon, WR Amani Toomer, RB Derrick Ward, QB Anthony Wright, DE Renaldo Wynn.

New York Jets: LB Eric Barton, CB Ahmad Carroll, RB Jesse Chatman, K Jay Feely, TE Bubba Franks, CB Ty Law, DT C.J. Mosley, K Mike Nugent, CB Hank Poteat, S J.R. Reed, RB Tony Richardson, LB Cody Spencer.

Oakland Raiders: CB Nnamdi Asomugha, S Rashad Baker, OL Carlisle Cooper, WR Drew Carter, LB Isaiah Ekejiuba, Cb Chris Johnson, DT William Joseph, P Shane Lechler, WR Ashley Lelie, CB Justin Miller, TE Tony Stewart, QB Marques Tuiasosopo, LB Sam Williams.

Philadelphia Eagles: RB Correll Buckhalter, S Sean Considine, S Brian Dawkins, CB Joselio Hanson, RT Jon Runyan, TE L.J. Smith, OL Tra Thomas.

Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Charlie Batch, P Mitch Berger, CB Fernando Bryant, OL Trai Essex, LB Keyaron Rox, LB Andre Frazier, OL Chris Kemoeatu, QB Byron Leftwich, CB Bryant McFadden, DE Orpheus Roye, OL Marvel Smith, OL Max Starks, WR Nate Washington.

San Diego Chargers: OL Kynan Forney, OL Mike Goff, LB Marques Harris, OL Jeremy Newbarry, RB Darren Sproles.

San Francisco 49ers: TE Billy Bajema, DT Damane Duckett, DT Ron Fields, RB DeShaun Foster, DE Roderick Green, WR Bryant Johnson, QB Jamie Martin, QB J.T. O'Sullivan, CB Allen Rossum, TE Sean Ryan, LB Takeo Spikes, CB Donald Stickland.

St. Louis Rams: S Oshiomogho Atogwe, CB Ronald Bartell, Cb Fakir Brown, CB Jason Craft, OL Anthony Davis, DT La'Roi Glover, OL Adam Goldberg, OL Brandon Gorin, WR Dante' Hall, OL Nick Leckey, WR Dane Looker, CB Ricky Manning, RB Travis Minor, DE Eric Moore, OL Rob Petitti, C Brett Romberg, LB Gary Stills, OL Cory Withrow. 

Seattle Seahawks: DT Rocky Bernard, WR Bobby Engram, QB Charlie Frye, G Chris Gray, DT Howard Green, TE Will Heller, LB Leroy Hill, LB D.D. Lewis, LB Wes Mallard, OL Steve McKinney, RB Maurice Morris, TE Jeff Robinson, WR Koren Robinson, RB Leonard Weaver, OL Ray Willis, OL Pork Chop Womack.

Tampa Bay Bucs: S Will Allen, WR Antonio Bryant, CB Phillip Buchanon, DE Kevin Carter, LB Pat Chukwurah, QB Jeff Garcia, WR Cortez Hankerton, DT Jovan Haye, QB Luke McCown, S Jermaine Phillips, DT Ryan Sims, TE Jeremy Stevens.

Tennessee Titans: K Rob Bironas, CB Chris Carr, QB Kerry Collins, S Vincent Fuller, DT Albert Haynesworth, P Craig Hentrich, CB Reynaldo Hill, WR Brandon Jones, CB Eric King, OL Daniel Loper, WR Justin McCareins, CB Tyrone Poole, TE Bo Scaife, QB Chris Simms.

Washington Redskins: LS Ethan Albright, DT Ryan Boschetti, LB Khary Campbell, De Demetric Evans, OL Jason Fabini, LB Alfred Fincher, S Mike Green, CB DeAngelo Hall, G Pete Kendall.      

February 01, 2009

Super Bowl should teach Dolphins a lesson

The Steelers are the champs.


Well, in this column that I've written for Monday's Miami Herald, I'm saying that it's because the run-first, defense-intense Steelers, can also throw the football.

Throwing the football is not an option in today's NFL. It is perhaps more important than running. Really. I believe that. How do you think the Cardinals got to the Super Bowl? Yeah, they took to the airways with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.

And to be able to pass the ball, you have to have at least one outstanding receiver. You know where I'm going here. I hope the Dolphins soon identify and either draft, sign or acquire in trade a great receiver.

I think it is their greatest need.

I am not saying Miami should use its first-round pick on a receiver, but neither am I saying the Dolphins definitely should not. Receiver is a huge need for the Dolphins and it needs serious addressing. The Miami corps needs a legit star that it lacks now. I don't care how Bill Parcells finds that guy. I just want him to find the guy and bring him to Miami. 

I know there will be talk of upgrading the middle of the line -- again. I know the defense needs attending to as well. But the Dolphins are kidding themselves if they continue to believe Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo and Ted Ginn Jr will be good enough. They are not good enough.

They're OK. But this team cannot win in the playoffs with these guys unless Ginn suddenly becomes a star, which is wish on a star stuff at best. The Dolphins should, must, come out of this offseason with a receiver that can win games for them.

Otherwise the offense will continue to be a popgun in an age when other NFL offenses are using Uzis.

Anyway, tell me what you guys think.

Steelers blowing out Cards, 20-7 to start 4th quarter

The Steelers have gotten the measure of the Cardinal now. It is 20-7 to start the fourth quarter and it doesn't seem as if Arizona has figured out how to get the ball to superstar receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

They better figure it out quickly because they have only 15 minutes before this NFL season is in the books and the Steelers win their record sixth Super Bowl.

Join me in the comments section as the live blog continues to cover the festivities.

Steelers up 17-7 over Cards to start 3rd quarter

Well, if entertainment is important to a Super Bowl, this one is going to halftime riding the wave of the most entertaining play I can remember ever seeing in an NFL game.

Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison just returned an interception 100 yards to give the Steelers a 17-7 lead in Super Bowl Extra Large III.

The Cardinals were at the 2 yard line when Kurt Warner threw a pass intended for Anquan Boldin. Harrison, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, stepped in front of the pass at the goal line and rumbled, bumbled, stumbled for 100 yards until he crossed the other goal line.


The NFL is declaring it the longest play in league history. I am officially delcaring it the greatest momentum swinging moment and the most outrageous play in Super Bowl history.

OK, the live blog continues in the comments section below. See you there.

Steelers lead SB XLIII 10-0 in 2nd quarter

The Steelers have completed a long pass to Hines Ward. They have two others to TE Heath Miller. They've even run the Wildcat package to Willie Parker.

And they are leading the Arizona Cardinals, 10-0, after one quarter of Super Bowl Extra Large III. The Steelers are dominating, holding a 7-1 advantage in first downs in the firs quarter.

The first Pittsburgh TD, on the second play of the second quarter, came when Gary Russell scored from one yard out. Arizona has had the football only five plays.

OK, the live blog continues in the comments section below. See you there.

Live Super Bowl blog AND live chat

Unfortunately the Dolphins are not in Super Bowl XLIII. Maybe next year.

But tonight Dolphins nations will gather here for a live game blog to discuss the game between Arizona and Pittsburgh, to compare these two teams to OUR team, and to generally discuss the state of the Dolphins as we watch the state of the Steelers and Cardinals.

What a great idea, eh?

Anything to drive traffic.

I'll be on here an hour or so before the 6:28 p.m. kickoff.

So you're not only getting a live game blog, you're getting a live chat of sorts in the pregame. What a bargain!

See you in the comments section.