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Look to the draft for the biggest talent boon

I talked to two NFL general managers on Monday -- no, not Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland who flees at the mere smell of a tape recorder.

In e-mail exchanges with these two GMs, I came to believe that if a team is going to load up on talent in the 2010 offseason, it's going to happen primarily through the draft. These guys were truly excited about the college talent coming out, have already put in long hours of tape study on college players, and are eagerly looking forward to the Indianapolis Combine later this month.

And, no, they weren't bailing on the idea that free agency will have a few good players in the offing and even some intriguing surprises. But when 140 to 200 players in their mid to late 20s have basically been eliminated from unrestricted free agency lists because of the rules of an uncapped season, you can understand it diminishes the excitement about free agency.

Still, there will be a free agency this offseason, it just won't look like anything we've grown accustomed to in previous years.

Free agency will come in tiers. There will be street free agents hitting the market even before traditional free agency begins March 5. These street free agents are obviously discards, but maybe one or two will help teams in 2010.

One such street free agent hit the market Monday when the Cleveland Browns cut wide receiver Donte' Stallworth ahead of the lifting of his league-imposed suspension. If you remember, Stallworth struck and killed a pedestrian with his Bentley in Miami Beach on March 14, 2009. He pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter.

That got him suspended by Commissioner Roger Goodell (not to mention it sent him to jail for 24 days, sent him to house arrest and activated other punishment). Well, after a season out of the game, Stallworth is available.

And already I've gotten a dozen e-mails from readers asking if the receiver-starved Dolphins will be interested. I cannot tell you for sure. But I seriously doubt it.

Stallworth is not the answer for a team like Miami that usually avoids such mixtures of mediocre talent and high off-field risks. Plus Stallworth, at age 29 and two years removed from a football game, probably isn't No. 1 receiver material these days.

So I wouldn't bank on him being in a Dolphins uniform despite the fact the guy lives in South Florida and his agent is Drew Rosenhaus of South Florida. But, as I said, that's a guess.

This is not a guess: Throughout free agency, you'll see players come available that typically would not in a capped year. Teams are expected to view the uncapped year as a sort of jubilee, where all their financial mistakes of the past can be erased because no salary cap means no cap hit for getting rid of under-performing players or toxic contracts.

Those players will hit the market. And maybe a handful of them become significant contributors to their new teams. The trick is identifying those few players and pairing them in the right system to bring out the best results.

Another part of free agency is players that have six years or beyond and are out of contract. These players have not been re-signed by their teams for whatever reasons and will be legitimate unrestricted free agents.

But wait, the top players in this category also might not hit free agency. Teams, you see, can slap a franchise tag or one of two transition tags on the best of these players. That could effectively take about 30 players off the market. 

So most of the unrestricted guys on the market will not be game-changers, assuming their original teams do their homework. Some will be aging players. Jason Taylor might be one of those. Some will be younger but not necessarily game-changers. Ben Watson of the New England Patriots might be one of those.

That market, I'm told, will be lean.

And then there is the restricted free agency market. It should not surprise if teams make a play for a handful of these guys. Desperate times call for desperate measures and that is desperation as restricted players rarely get signed away from their teams.

It would not be a cheap venture for any team that tries because draft pick compensation could be due for signing these players.

Why is that such a steep price to pay for proven talent, you ask? Well, because even the most proven free agents can become free agent busts. Because teams will be doubling down on the move -- giving up draft compensation and paying bigtime contracts for the players.

And because in giving up draft picks, teams will not be maximizing their chances in the draft. Yes, the same draft the two GMs told me was full of very good talent.

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Will we look running back in the draft late or try and find someone who will be let go from there team. He hasnt played well since Mendenhall showed up in the burgh but Willie Parker could add some speed and depth at that position probably very cheap and will most likely be cut by pitt.

Another late rounder gem we could snatch up is Matt Mayberry, from Indiana University. The guy is a tackling machine and a very smart player. He always seems to be at the right spot on the field. He is not an enormous LB, but neither was Zach Thomas. Look him up if you want...

I 've talked about Micah johnson on this blog many times in the past. . He's not the fasted guy around or the most instinctive.Also He get hurt. Personally i think he would make a better MLB in the 4-3. That being said , if he 's there say in the 4rth round , you have to consider him. He riminds me of jasper brinkley of the vikings when he came out.

Micah Johnson is a beast, he is training for the combine at the gym I go to and he doesn't look injured in any way...

Indiana, "The most crtical position in the 3-4 defense is nose tackle, he is the anchor" Mike Nolan

Willie Parker is a good thought, but I don't think we would go after him. He just doesn't seem like it would be a good fit or that he would be liked by the front office. Cobbs, if we keep him, is more valuable IMO...

So far , Flipper is winning.:)

Yeah that was just a name of someone i was throwing out really because im pretty sure he will be cut any other names come to mind for RB that will be cut?

Carlito, micah is chiseled, a specimen. Couldn't imagine him and wake side by side. NJ, I think he would def be worth a 3 or 4, mike Nolan could get the best out of him. When playing Kentucky, he is one of the first guys teams try and neutralize.

Where is the Brandon Marshall crowd today???

A good possible 2nd round OLB to look at is Ricky Sapp from Clemson

As for RB, I think Hilliard showed some flashes at the end of the year. I was surprised with his hands, and he ran decent. Brown, Williams, cobbs, hilliard, I think we have decent depth.

lol @ Carlito, those are my favorite people on here. Give up all our first round picks for the remainder of this new decade, and anything else the broncos want so we can get this guy get it done woooo hooo yeah whatever it takes. LOL where are those guys at today?

Damn You carlito !!! you mentioned the h1n1 virus. so far it's been quiet. that's why flipper is in the lead.

Carlito, my only concern with Sapp is he is really behind from a body standpoint. Needs serious time in the weight room. Not sure how he would be at the point of attack.

Well this buffon would love the Dolphins to trade for Marshall...pray tell what receiver in this draft is better than Marshall? The answer NONE.
Who wouldn't use next years number one on Marshall? When is the last time the Dolphins have had a real number one type receiver? Heck I would even throw in Ginn...you remember him..the latest great hope at receiver that cost the Dolphins a great pick...how many first rounders have the Dolphins wasted in the past for unproven players? How many are on the team now? I laugh at the fools that say Marshal is trouble...really...I see him as production...and thats something the Dolphins need is it not!! In just 15 games he acquired 101 rec's and 1120 yds and 10 TD's...in the last three years he acquired 3710 yds with 307 rec's...and 23 TD's. Every expert tells us that the Dolphins NEED a game changer...they need talent at receiver...they need Marshall.

bobbyd12 - So what happens when the RB is running to the outside every run play and our LB's are not good enough to get them like they were this year. I am not disagreeing you that the NT is a very important position for a 3-4, but I feel we need more help at the LB position then the NT IMO

For good, fun conversation, anyone else have thoughts?

Bootang25,

Ricky Sapp is also training for the combine at the gym I go to... I'd have to say physically he is impressive too... He is a big dude...at 6'5 he's a little skinny, but looks like he is working on it.... and that is something that can always be improved... Dude is fast too

Fishypete - So you want a WR that yes has talent, but would be a cancer to the team like Porter and only play when he wants to play like he did in Denver?

Carlito and WestVa,
Brandon Marshall is worth a 1st round pick and a blow job by Sparano, don't you know that?

NJPHINFAN

I vote for the bra1n his first five words tell it all IMO. lol

The Bra1n | February 09, 2010 at 08:26 AM
"Stallworth is an intelligent guy..."

Flipper is still first but fishypete is a close 2nd.

FYI, the asking price for Marshall will most likely be a 1st and a 3rd... thats basically giving away the draft

look what I started...

NJ can we vote???? I have to say fishey is holding his own in the competition.

At least we know NJ won't cheat and award himself the trophy.. but if he did, that would be the the winning post.. kinda circular.. dang, it's the chicken and egg thing all over again.

WOW !! , i missed that. bra 1n has now passed fishypete for 2nd.

Indiana,
I believe that without a question the NT is the most important piece in the 3-4. However, I agree with you; the way the LB corps is looking right now, I say the Fins need to go LB first and NT second in the draft, followed by FS. I'm gonna start looking at possible late round NT's to see if there's any out there.

MIAMI DOES NOT NEED BRANDON MARSHALL. IF WE WASTE PICKS ON HIM THEN OUR DEFENSE WILL CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE, MAKING HIS CONTRIBUTIONS MUCH LESS MEANINGFUL. ANYONE WHO WANTS HIM FOR WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE GAME IS CORRECT HE HAS THE NUMBERS AND THE TALENT. MIAMI IS NOT IN A POSITION TO PRACTICALLY BE TRADING SPOTS ON THE DEFENSE THAT WE WILL PICK UP IN THE DRAFT TO GET A WIDE RECIEVER THAT DOES WHAT HE WANTS AND CRIES WHEN IT ISNT HIS WAY.

westva. , yeah !!!

lol on fishypete, I think they are neck and neck now flipper and the bra1n is a close second. lol

People who want Marshall clearly do not understand how far you get set back by losing draft picks. We cannot lose a top 15 talent that is young. Thats how we got in the position we are in currently.

Lips , what would be the winning post ???

Bootang, I hope you are right about Micah Johnson though. I'm concerned about the lack of depth at ILB and NT in this draft. When lack of depth = position of need, that can lead to reaching which is a good way to kill a draft.

The same people that want B. Marshall are usually the ones that also claim that the Dolphins have not drafted well the last two years. Just because they haven't seen the "Game changer" yet. IDIOTS!!!

Probably true enrique.

We should get Wilfork even if he is franchised. We should trade for Marshall no matter what he costs. Sign Dansby and Stallworth. Then draft Spiller and go heavy on the offense in the draft.


Did I win??

I see a game changer on the Dolphins already emerging, he wears #7. No other QB we've had since Marino would lead the Dolphins back once they were down 10+ but Chad did it a few times last year. And when he and the rest of the offense continue to grow together - nobody will be asking for dummies like Marshall or a degenerate like Stallworth.

Carlito, I really like Sapp. Was just saying that is an area of improvement. And we know Parcells and his wantingguys in the weight room, he would def be pushed

I think the faint cry for Brandon Marshall is soon to be silenced on this blog. Brandon Marshall advocates are "progress stoppers" and the big three will get rid of you as well......

WestVaFins - AS I 100% agree with you, not every top 15 pick is guaranteed to work out and beccome what a top 15 pick should become, so to a certain degree the draft is still a crap shoot since you are not guaranteed a great player...

JaMarcus Russel proves that and if he doesn't Ryan Leaf DEFINITELY does...

Anybody got any new updates on our fatty T. Cody?

Ever since Armando put that picture up, his name faded into the night.

Indiana, "In the 3-4 defense, an effective nose tackle is the most critical position without a doubt" Mike Nolan Defensive Coordinator Denver Broncos in an interview with CBS Sports...

Always. NO !!!!!

I was bored and figured I would add confusion - I just meant you would need to be a buffoon if you made a post proclaiming yourself the victor of the buffoon contest.. so by actually posting yourself the victor, you would be posting the winning entry..

oh well, hopefully everyone is confused and we stop talking about Marshall or any other player that will take high or multiple picks out of our pockets..

Does anybody have any news on our fatty T. Cody???

Ever since Armando put the picture up, his name has been forgotten...

We need a playmaking ILB, not another Crowder. we've agreed crowder is good as a complementary guy. I take what Carlito says to be key. I know Johnson is going to work his tail off, and he will be a specimen at the combine. May raise his stock too high, and combined with lack of playmaking ILB, we may not even have the chance to reach for him Mark. What you and I both loved about weatherspoon was his guarding mccluster in the senior bowl. That is where athleticism is so key for us in who we draft at LB. We need playmakers.

enrique1085 - VERY good point!! Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, IMO, will be very good in this league. They split time with each other the first half of the year and yet they still both put up similar numbers to Revis's rookie year. People have to understand rookies don't come into this league and be "game changers" within their first season or few starts. Also, to let the doubters know, both Smith and Davis don't even have a full year of starting ALONE without getting subsituted under their belt...

Lips , you're right !! So i'm always right is now in the top 3 . :) J/k.

That's two different quotes from Nolan, and Dick LeBeau who runs the 3-4 in Pittsburg stated the same...considering that almost everything I read says NT is the must have position in the 3-4, then it would seem logical that with Fergunsons age and injury Nolan will want that stud to anchor our Defense

West VaFins is right, this is a defense laiden draft and thats what we need. ILB's and OLB's. A nose tackle then either a guard or free saftey.

Also if you look at where Brandon Marshall was drated the Broncos took him the 4th round. They Saints picked up Marques Colston in the seventh. Very good picks and great value for those rounds...that is what the Trifecta is into in rounds 4 and on, getting a return on you investment. Players that bring value in the later rounds of the draft especially at the WR spot. Rather than give a first and a third for Marshall and he either gets hurt, blows a knee, or becomes a even more glorified diva that it's disruptive to the team. The Tuna would rather land a defensive player such as a line backer or DL that has imediate impact at that position rather cost the team draft picks and headaches. Then find that gem in the later rounds at WR, it happens every year. But it's way to early to give up on Patrick Turner who will be stronger and better after sitting on the bench most of the season in a learning role, plus another year in the weight room, if he is as hungry as many believe he will get more playing time. Hartline was a pleasant suprise and Bess will be in his third year and has looked good so far, being the undrafted rookie free agent that the Tifecta picked up.

So enough of the Marshall talk we have bigger more pressing needs on defense.

Sorry, double post...I don't know how that happened. NJ, does that make me a runner up?

Well damn. That’s about as dumb as I could make it. Can’t wait to read the “winning” entry. lol

Mark in Toronto - Agreed!

bobbyd12 - What part of I don't (and others on this blog) disagree with you that the NT is the most important piece of a 3-4 defense. Nolan never said it was the most important need the Dolphins have did he? NO!! As every piece is important, some teams may need a particular position more than another position and in this situaation with the Dolphins we need LB's more than we need a NT. If we desperately had to use Solia (spelling?) I believe we could if our LB's were could enough to cover for his slight mistakes, which currently our LB's are not. A NT cannot do anything if the RB's are running away from the middle of the line, then out running our LB's to the edge which happened quite a bit last season. Another great example, even though we won the game, was the Carolina game. Play after play DeAngelo Williams was beating our LB to the edge

Bootang, if Weatherspoon picks up at the combine where he left off at the Senior Bowl, it will no longer be reaching to pick him at #12. After all, at the beginning of the year he was the consensus top linebacking prospect for the NFL draft. He just ended up having an average year for Mizzou for whatever reason.

Always , it WAS the dumbest post but we know you're not serious. The others are serious.

I think the Dolphins have great depth at RB. I think Lex Hilliard can be a star on this team. He has good hands out of the backfield, runs with power, and is a good pass protector who seemed to building a nice chemistry w/ Henne at the end of the year.

I know we are looking for some added talent at tight end... I may be wrong but i like the Spaeth from pburgh will be a FA. He catches the ball well and blocks. He never got much attention because how good Miller is at TE for the steelers but he could bring alot of help at the position along with playoff and superbowl experience.

Indiana Dolfan

A crap shoot?

Peyton Manning a crap shoot? Jake Long a crap shoot?
It's who's running the draft that makes it a crap shoot, comon' man Al Davis?...Al frkn Davis he picked J Russell, lol and he picked Darrius Heyward-Bey. Don't tell the Trifecta its a crap shoot.

i think... correction...

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