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Tackling the age question on the Dolphins

I remember covering Dolphins games that had Bill Parcells on the other sideline, and in some of those games, Parcells trotted out players such as Keith Byars and Bryan Cox and Drew Bledsoe and got excellent production out of them.

Those players were older veterans. So it didn't seem to me Parcells had a problem with older players back then. In fact, in some cases, it seemed he preferred the older guys.

So it continues to be a point of inquiry for me that now Parcells is running the Dolphins and he seems to have an aversion to older players. He'd rather sign a younger, unproven cornerback named Eric Green than an older and more proven Shawn Springs or Chris McAlister or Ken Lucas.

He'd rather pay a younger but oft-injured Jake Grove $29.5 million over five years than show interest in a older but more reliable Matt Birk, who ends up signing for three years and $12 million.


“It depends on the health of the player," general manager Jeff Ireland said, no doubt forgetting both Grove and Green have not exactly been pictures of health recently. "There is no doubt about it; you have to have younger players on your team. You want to build through the draft. That’s a strategy and philosophy that this trio has felt real strongly about as many times as we have been together. Age does make a difference as well as longevity, how many more years a guy can play and if a player is ascending or descending.”

I totally buy it if the team is drawing the line between filling a need through the draft verus free agency. In that comparison, the drafted player will always be younger, always have his best days ahead if he turns out to be good, and will usually be less expensive.

It makes sense.

The Dolphins need, must continue to fill in talent through the draft. They need, must continue to stay young and keep their salary cap structure manageable.

But if the comparison is one free agent versus another, the strategy needs some gray area between the extreme black and white of youth versus age.

The fact of the matter is some younger free agents get hurt a lot also, be it by happenstance or bad luck or something else. Grove, all of 29, has been hurt a lot in his career. Justin Smiley, 27, came to the Dolphins having been hurt in San Francisco. He got hurt and missed the end of the season last year.

Meanwhile, some older players such as Kurt Warner play and play and play with relatively few injuries.

And sometimes the younger players, despite their injury history, still draw bigger paychecks in free agency while the older players often come at a bargain. Age doesn't always work against a team when one is comparing free agents.

Bottom line: The age question is important for the Dolphins. They are a team still trying to get better for tomorrow. They need younger players. And it makes sense for them to draft those younger players. 

But once they start looking at free agents, where injury history, performance history, and price tag need to matter, I'm thinking youth is a variable that cannot always be considered most important above all others. 



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I think the key here is potential upside. They want players whose best years are ahead of them. Any player who is past his prime, they will move on and keep looking.

I think they will plug-in a veteran through free agency, eventually. It has to do with not worrying about having one or two good years; we are looking at winning year after year after year. "In My Opinion"

one very balanced column by armando in a very long time


I completely disagree. Nick Saban failed b/c he signed a bunch of good but old free agents. Kevin Carter, Vonnie Holliday, etc. quickly reached a platuae and the team never rose above mediocre. Thats not how you rebuild, and thats a big reason Saban failed (I still think on game day he was one of the most well prepared coaches I have ever seen). This team is still rebuilding and signing good, young free agents is absolutely the right thing to do.

I agree with everyone. Cant we all be friends?

When a team is rebuilding. Why add older players?

Let's see who is available after the draft. Who gets cut or traded by other teams? I like what the Dolphin management is doing.

Nick Saban was the most well prepared coaches on game day to GET PAID .


Agreed 100%. Parcells' ego gets in the way of his decisions. He agenda is to build through young players. He has said that since he came to Miami. He can't change the agenda now. So instead of taking an older, proven guy, he goes with the younger player because that has been his vision from the start. We will see. But I do agree with your post 100%.

They will still add veterans when possible. Last year they picked up Ferguson and kept a lot of our aging defenders (Holliday, Hill, Goodman, Porter). When you have built a solid team through the draft and free agency, you can then add a couple of older veterans to the roster to help maximize your chance of winning it all in that 1 or 2 year span. I would suggest to you that Miami will be in the position to do this 2 years from now.

The point of rebuilding is to create a 4 or 5 year window where your core of players is in their prime, ready to compete with anybody for a Super Bowl. You cant create that window if the players you sign/draft are all different ages b/c those players will enter their primes at different times. You cant win like that.
Look at last year's Steelers and the Giants team of 2 years ago. Everyone was in their primes (save a key player or two). Thats how you make a run at the super bowl.

Can an older player like JT gets paid by the sack or interception in games with no salary with contract on weekly basis.

Picking a player to fill a position of need is different every time, who is available, who fits the position best in terms of size and ability, what are they going to cost, and yes age is a factor, but I doubt it is the overriding factor with Parcells, unless you have two players of similar ability and cost and one is younger, then go for the younger guy, why not?

Your reference to Matt Birk does not sound like a good example. Yeah, he came cheaper than Grove but he is on the downside of his career which is not just an age thing but a performance thing. Is he a better player right now than Grove? I suspect not, otherwise I'm sure the Fins would have picked him up.

They're building for a championship team three or four years down the road. Older players don't help in that concept. If they were planning to contend next year or the year after what you propose Mando makes more sense.

Let's wee what happens I think 10-6 is a definite possibility this year maybe a wild card maybe not.

In Shula's last year he had a ton of old number one picks that he signed for one last run and it was a very mediocre team. I don't think they made the playoffs.

Mando, I think the point you may be missing is that we are in a particular phase of rebuilding. Then again, maybe I am missing something. Have you thought that maybe this is just the phase we are in right now? Maybe 2 or 3 years down the road we would be more open to signing some older players once we have a better core of talented youth.

Oh! one last thing - Go Tarheels!!!!

So Mando, if you're the manager & you sign Birk, Springs, Mcallister, Lucas, Holt, Hugh Heffner and any other old people you like, do the Fins win the Superbowl? No aging free agents make us better than the Patsies!! You build the core and then you start plugging in age to complement your core. That is what Belicheat does and that's where Tuna is taking us!!

All this age talk makes me wonder if you are talking about the Fins or about Mando?? We all get old buddy but don't freak out, I'm sure you still get carded every once in a while!!

I think you're leaving one important factor out when analyzing old vs. young in FA:

Older players come with baggage. I think the Fins are trying to build a winning environment in Miami. And young players can still be molded to fit the attitude and make-up of the ideal teammate the Fins are looking to build this team with.

If you look back the Fins have brought in older players: Jason Ferguson, Chad Pennington to name a few. But look at these "older" players: perfect pros, wonderful leaders.

I think the Fins are avoiding older players that could possibly mess up the chemistry of the team.

But what do I know.

THE DOLPHINS ARE NOT REBUILDING!!! We are not signing the players based on how well they will play this year, we're thinking about 2-3-4 yeard down the line. Birk, Springs, Lucas etc will be in thier mid 30's by then. JT will be 38. Thats why we dont sign them. The Pats signed Sprongs, Bodden, maybe JT b/c they want to win a title THIS YEAR. Thats the difference. If I were Mr. Salguero I'd stick with reporting, and leave the analysis for those who actually know a thing or two about football.

Lol I meant ARE rebuilding, sorry.

I don't see the point in signing older players when you're rebuilding and know you won't be a contender for a few years. In that time the older player will have declined and wasted valuable time in grooming a younger player at that same position. That's the point of rebuilding right? Allow the young guys to come into their own around the same time so that you can contend with experienced players? I completely understand signing some older vets at the point when you think you've become a contender. But signing them now to 2 year contracts when we're going nowhere is a waste of playing time for a young player they're trying to groom for the future.

A simple look at the Patriots since 2000 shows that Ireland is wrong. Bellichick constantly looks to stock his team with proven veteran players and leaders as well as a few young players and it hasn't hurt him any. In fact, he built them into a dynasty like that.

Rodney Harrison being the latest who was a huge part of the their last Super Bowl team. When was the last time Ireland or Parcels won the Lombardi trophy?

...do I even need to say it?

"A simple look at the Patriots since 2000 shows that Ireland is wrong."

Pats fan I guess?

Pats are in a higher league than dolphins, you can't compare the brady bunch to the fins .it's not fair to the dolphins


Don't know if you caught my post bout Sundays topic but good job today.

Gonna have to say I agree with you today. Younger is great but not always the answer.

In a way thou its kind of not fair to the Trifecta here. They have signed a few older vets here and there. Seems they only do that in a last resort type of way.

No doubt without Ferg and Penne we don't win the division. The two key positions you pointed of this year I'd say I would have went for Birk and MaCallister for short term fixes until we can get the right young buck to replace them.

With so many pretty good centers in the draft the push for Groove looked a lil wild to me.

Anyway great column today.

Good point Mando. However, I think the objective should be to go with youth first but if you can't find the solution in FA or the draft, a veteran stopgap should be considered and this regime has done that - more specifically with Jason Ferguson and Chad Pennington with a lot of success. I'd like to see a guy like Chris McAllister on this team though. He can (or could) really play.

The great Tuna wont be here after this season so he wants his legacy to play out it's part with MIA....he wants to leave Sparano and Ireland with a strong foundation .....not an aging group of past there primers.
This draft means everything dolfans !

The Dolphins are rebuilding and the Trifecta understands that this is the way to go for now. They will add vets as the team gets better. The reason not sign Taylor for instance, would it impede a younger guy?

Bill Belichek with no Scott Pioli is bad news for Pats fans. I'm sorry to say 8-8 at best for the pats. ("the Brady Bunch" is the gayest nickname I've ever heard for a football team)

Hey Mando,

You seem to be trying to imply that very complex decisions are being made with simple questions.

Any two bit hack could build a team if it was that simple.

The Dolphins appear to have a simple plan for success , but the decisions to implement that plan appear very complex, perhaps beyond your comprehension or perhaps you're just creating a blog topic.

Might be better to try an analyze a brilliant mind than to try and find a flaw in it.


I understand your point but we have to quit comparing us to the Pats. The Pats can pick older players because they have a great nucleus of younger guys. The older guys add to an already strong team. We do not have the same depth or talent level with our young guys. In a year or two or three we will have that level of talent. Then when an older veteran comes on the market we can pick them up and place them in. Until that time comes until we have a solid deep roster of young talent it isn't worth it to compare us to the Pats.

Armando, you get better with time. Well put.

Don't quite understand all these so-called Dolphin fans saying this team is years away from being a contender, if I'm not mistaken last year the Dolphins finished 11-5 and won the AFC East division. That sounds like a team just a few players away from being in the thick of the chase for a Super Bowl. And if thats true, and it is, then you need some veterans ala Jason Taylor to help you get there. That does not mean you can't draft rookies for the future, but you can have both its not an either-or issue.

Starts with building a young team that naturally gets better year by year. You ride that growth and keep adding until you are ready for the next stage.

That is the push. You sign a prime free agent or two and maybe some older vets to fill the gaps. You are trying to go over the top, be ready to make your run.

As the core of the team starts to hit the downside, there are more gaps to fill. Those can filled with older vets that have a year or two of good play left. But at that point you are just trying to make the window last as long as you can.

The Pats are at that third stage right now. While they are still real good, the core is aging and a whole bunch will be free agents next year -- the end is near and they are trying to reconfigure on the fly. We'll see how they do.

The Jets think they skip in line to the push phase. I think they are trying to adopt the same strategy, and even worse, that made us a fringe playoff team all those years.

The Bills...I can't even figure out what they are doing.

The Phins are in the first stage, and doinf it right. They want people who are going to get better year by year or at least have the potential to line up as starters 3-5 years from now when they are ready for the push and trying to keep it going as long as possible.

So they value youth right now, and they should beause that is where they are. Give it a few years and you'll see a different strategy that matches where the team is then. These guys are good.

Amando: I don't agree with your reasoning about signing older players as so many have said. It is because we are still rebuilding. Remember what the HC said we still have a lot of holes to fill. If you don't believe it take a look at the year 2010 for NT,RB,QB,TE,OL,OLB,ILB,SS,and CB. Many are aging now and/or will demand a large re-signing price tag in 2010. Several players will be released if they don't make a much better showing this year. With so many holes left to fill in 2009 and 2010 we will look at 4th year players after the 2009 and 2010 drafts that get released by other teams where the Dolphin Mgt. think they have a chance to help the team going forward. Maybe,they can look at some older FA signings in 2011 or 2012 if the next two or three years are extra good?

jed, well put,and i agree. fins will kill u all and oh ya f jim kelly

"Pats fan I guess?" Posted by: markeyh -

If I were Pats fan I wouldnt be wasting my time with this blog but assuming for a second that I were, how does it attack the factual premise of what I wrote? Does that somehow make Randy Moss, Sammy Morris, Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison irrelevant? Or the Joey Galloway, Fred Taylor signings of this off season as fanatical bluster?

You may disagree with the philosophy but you cannot dispute that Bellichick and Pioli have turned the Patriots into a dynasty with a mix of veteran players and good drafting.

Maybe Ireland subscribes to what the Cowboys of the 90s did to build a team through draft picks only but in this day in age when players change teams as much as Elton John changes costumes in a concert, good luck with that.

It's a mistake to not to have productive veteran leaders who can still play only because they have peaked. A player like Jason Taylor may be on the downside but is still better than 90% of any rookie in the draft.

I'm from New England and can't stand Tuna but one of the biggest negativess about him besides his ego is that many of his decisions about bringing in veterans only offered short term relief. Robert Kraft used this as an example of why he felt he would be better with Belicik in the long run. Hey, maybe he heard that! Don't forget all the layers teams need to consider such as salary cap, what contracts are up in next couple years and also that sometimes a change of scenery shakes up an older player or re-energizes guys. Pats have had great success with some great players who were likely in ruts. I love how when reading blogs some people just want to say something even if it has nothing to do with story.

Example:Bill Belichek with no Scott Pioli is bad news for Pats fans. I'm sorry to say 8-8 at best for the pats. ("the Brady Bunch" is the gayest nickname I've ever heard for a football team)

Posted by: carlito from golfito |

That's precioso carlito from golfito but I don't know a single person in New England who calls the Pats the "Brady Bunch" and who labels things "gayest" once they leav high school, little carlos?

I like what Parcells and his front office are doing by getting younger. But, I also believe you need a certain mix of veterans too. I just wish they would sign another Free Agent like a Defensive Tackle or Corner, so the pressure won't be on us after the draft to cover one of these positions. What if some of these Draft Picks flop ??? Then we wasted another year for nothing. Right ??

It doessn't matter what we think. Parcells is going to do it his way, and not be influenced by anything written here. And, I am pretty sure, he is going to make better decisions than any of us.
That's why he makes the big bucks.

as for all the gay patriots talk goes, lt. murdock said it best" its over jonny, its over." hey bfair, is it ok to say gay since high school? oh ya f jim kelly

Mando, quite right. Younger is not necessarily better. And signing players who have a history of injuries?
While I'll agree that Parcells is light years better than anything since Shula, I'm not buying everything he does.

Maybe it's not a bad idea for Parcells to quit (again)....the training wheels are off now, Sparano can handle it now.

To The Bra1n,

Shut up already.

Ireland and Parcells are waiting to see what comes of the draft and what players they get. If they don't satisfy their need or depth, then they will sign a guy like Taylor afterwards. they're definately not going to sign him before the draft.

Jarod Mayo led the entire Pats team in tackles as a rookie, the dolphins would like to draft someone like that and pay him less, but if all else fails then Taylor would be plan B that they are keeping in their back pocket. Plus they have to wait because if u trade a player and then that player gets cut and u resign that same player back before a full year, (i think) then the Redskins can ask Roger Goodell to forfeit Miami's compensation for that trade(2nd rd pick). It prob. would never happen, but it is a rule.

I know this doesn't go for everyone and there are plenty of examples to prove this wrong, but younger players who get injured usually heal faster and have less issues after a major surgery and older players tend to have lingering and chronic pain/issues with major injuries or surgery, not everyone, i know but i bet a good pct.

Notwithstanding last year's success, I think the Dolphins will add older vets when they are in a position where adding those type of players will fill a need on a Super Bowl caliber team. Make no mistake, this team is still re-building, and I think they would rather add younger players that will grow and mature together rather than add a player that wont be around when they are ready to compete for a title.

Jed...do you have a green honda? the reason i asked b/c i saw a toothless guy yesterday driving green honda wearing green overall to match.if that was you nj says hi.

The gayest uniform in the league is dolphins uniform and brady bunch is a term of love and respect


Brady bunch will get sacked and will get hurt. I hope we hurt him bad. What is one of your Pats blog sites so I can go on it and waste my time.

The cuban assassin ...one pats good blog is...www.1-15.com/jt

It's nice to see some smart football fans ( I.E . tommya , fake gm , NYSCOTT , future gm ) posting today and knowing what it takes to build a super bowl team (Dynasty ) . OF course tou have your naive fans ( i won't mention his name ) who actually think we're a couple players away from a super bowl team LOL. I guess they forget the beating we took in the playoff game or the fact we'll have 12 free agents next year. Miami still has a ways to go to build the foundation and henne will need at least a full year starting under his belt before this team is ready for the super bowl. It doesn't make sense to get veteren FA'S right now.

Well put NJ PHIN FAN,

I did not like the beating our Phins got in the playoffs. We can take pride with the fact that we knocked the Jets and Pats out of the playoffs in one game. Sweet.

SONNY CROCKETT . Miami doen't have to give up their 2nd round back to wash if miami signs Taylor LOL. Where did you get that from ? Taylor got traded , played a year and Then washington released him . Washington gets nothing .

"Plus they have to wait because if u trade a player and then that player gets cut and u resign that same player back before a full year, (i think) then the Redskins can ask Roger Goodell to forfeit Miami's compensation for that trade(2nd rd pick). It prob. would never happen, but it is a rule"

I guess April 1 is a gift that keeps on giving.

Bad things.

Armando, you know I am completely absent any ideas of my own, which is the reason I come to your blog and read your columns. I hope you continue to dominate even as I take jabs at you because you make money doing what you do while I have to continue working as a plumber kneedeep in s hit.

NJ PHIN FAN, can you please learn how to write DOESN'T not done't...learn english man.

go check out the Cam Wake Story on the official website. More interesting than the garbage from pats fan.

All I know is the two best players on the team last year came to Miami as veteran free agents. Chad Pennington and Joey Porter were the most productive players on the team and they didn't get drafted by Miami and weren't younger..

I agree with Mando that it's good to add as many draft picks as possible. But I also think you can fill in with cagey vets. Those are not mutally exclusive.

miami gave baltimore that playoff game. they played bad, bad breaks, etc their better than that and ravens arent

JED ( OR imposter ) Can you please learn how to read. You'll see that i posted " doesn't " the correct way after the typo.

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