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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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WVAF, ur right, they will be looking to add a TE, but he won't be a blocker, he'll be a pumped up WR who can stretch the seam a la Jermichael Finley.

I was saying Johnson may end up going late 1st or early 2nd, before we could reach for him. I have no issues taking weatherspoon at 12. May be a bit early. But I saw leadership, firing the team up, I saw him make an open field special teams tackle, cover mccluster in man, and them get a pick. He's not someone who I already wasn't high on anyway. I love this kid. We were both blown away by him that day Mark.

What names either draft or FA fill that role Mark?

One of the reasons Nolan couldn't impliment everything defensively in Denver last year was they had no true NT. I would not be upset to end up with dan williams, or cam Thomas. It is a gamble the regime has to make. Which position to pick first, try and figure out how the draft shakes up. Remember we damn near took Henne at the top of the 2nd a few years ago, and we took a big risk by guessing with all the teams between that puck and our next, QB was not going to be taken. We played that perfectly. Who we draft may be more indicative of who we feel will be around the next time we pick.

Mark in Toronto

Brandon Graham impressed the hell out of me all week and on game day at the Senior Bowl, so did Weatherspoon tough not as much as Graham. But the thing is these two guys are not the prototype players Parcells usally picks size wise at those positions.
I hope that he takes a really hard look at Graham, I mean the guys looks unblockable and sets the edge with his speed against the run and pass. I think Spoon would not be ideal size for a ILB for Parcells but played well at the senior bowl. If I had to pick from the two I would go with Graham I think hands down he will impact the game more than any player on D in this years draft.

I think what indiana is tryin to say is never a guarantee in the draft. although it helps to have good talent evaluators, not all prospects transition well in the pros..

Johnson late 1st or early 2nd ??? UHHHH NO !!

Mark pay attention to Chad Jones of LSU towards the 3rd if he is there. 2 sport athlete, 6'2 231, I think he is someone very versatile. You notice a theme with guys I like, versatile players. I don't care for one trick ponies.

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

Posted by: bobbyd12 | February 09, 2010 at 02:07 PM

No SH-IT Shirlock the NT is the most important position. No one seaid it wasn't, but every 3-4 defense has different needs regardless of the importance of a position. I think Solia (spelling?) could do all right if we desperatley needed him to if our LB's had the speed and talent to cover for Solia slight mistakes. A NT is worthless in a 3-4 if the RB's are running to the edge and beating the LB's -- hence the Carolina game, even though we did win, DeAngelo Williams was beating our LB's to the edge every other play. It was yermiah Bell you ran him down to stop a BIG TD in that game which we ended up getting a INT on that drive.

So as I agree the NT is the most important postion for the 3-4 defense, it is not our most important need on defense...

Dolphins need serious help at TE
I would like them to trade Lex Hillard or Cobbs for a 4th round draft pick.
RBs can be had in 5-6-7th round. We need that 4th for a LB or Safety depth.

NJ I'm not saying that's where Johnson should go. But he is the kind of guy who if he has a monster combine, his stock may rise too high. And given the lack of real ILB depth, he could go way ahead of where he is supposed to. You agree that happens way more often than it should with the draft

Dan Williams is an animal..............

love graham!! would love to fall to our 2nd rounder but after that senior bowl never gonna happen. wishful thinking on my part

Darryl Dunphy,
Lex Hilliard is talented and I think Sparano will show more trust this year as Ricky is bound to get less snaps. He ended the year on a high note and that should carry into OTAs. The depth at RB is there, but don't tell that to the people asking for Spiller in the 1st round.

LOL @ NJ. Can’t blame a guy for trying. :)

Graham is someone who won't last past early 20's I don't think, but he could slip

Dan Williams is real good but at pick 12 would be a reach, I like what NJPHIN said about Cam Thomas in rounds 3 or 4.

No at 12 we need to get a beast of a line backer either: McClain or Graham who ever is available, I also think Spoon would be to high at 12 and there are a few other ILB's that I like later: Brandon Spikes, Sean Lee, Daryl Washington and as mentioned Micah "Smash" Johnson!

All right I'm out checking in later to see who won the idiot of the day blog. lol

Indiana, if you think Solia can fill in then let's start talking about 2011...when the DC OUR team hired says the NT is the most important position, and comes over and sees a 35 year old injured Fergunson and a guy Solai who was out of position and pushed around, you would THINK the man who states NT is the most important position would be lobbying hard to upgrade that position...I have also stated numerous times I would love to have McClain but without a NT upgrade, we are in trouble... I could care less where in the draft we take a NT or LB, all I care is that both positions are upgraded...and lastly, I've never been disrespectful to u on this blog, so I don't expect SH"t from u...if not u can go FU"K urself too

I don't understand why is it that the media, a lot of people on here, and others keep saying that the Dolphins are in "serious need" of a TE. I don't think it's fair to crusify Fasano on an off year which he managed to bounce back in half way through the year. And not only did he bounce back, he blocked very well all year long. Him and Henne need to get some more reps together to produce more, and that will come this offseason. Fasano needs a little competion in order to get motivated, I think him and Sperry can battle it out. There are many other more important things Miami needs other than TE. I am missing something here? or it could just be me.

I know im not the only one to say it but moving back in the first round could be very good move for us. We move back and pick up and extra pick get our Man Dan Williams and then use the extra pick to draft an offensive player of need whether it be WR TE OL and use the majority of our own picks to make one of the scariest young defenses imaginable.

We need to trade Cobbs or Hillard for a 3rd or 4th round pick,we don't need both.

WVF, I really liked Tony Schefler at TE but he will be restricted now because of the CBA. Ben Watson is really the only guy at TE I would touch in free agency.

The draft has a bunch of options.

Jermaine Gresham, OU
Aaron Hernandez, FL
Anthony McCoy, USC
Ed Dickson, Oregon (my personal favourite)
Jimmy Graham, THE U
Colin Peek, ALA
Dennis Pitta, BYU
Andrew Quarless, PSU

These guys will all be picked between the early 2nd to the 4th rd by consensus.

How bad did Gresham drop because of the injury?????

Bootang, you are right, I am absolutely enamored with Weatherspoon. His looks like a custom fit ILB for this system. And he does have the size for Parcells' system. he's a natural 241 lbs.

I also love Brandon Graham but I think with the depth at OLB, you can afford to wait on that position. On the other hand, you can really get caught with your pants down at ILB and NT if you get too cute.

Gresham may still get back into the 1st rd (depends on what he shows at the combine) but there is no doubt that if he declared last year he would have been the first TE off the board. Pettigrew ended up going 20th last year.

enrique1085 is absolutely right about fasano. He a good all around TE. All Miami needs is a pass catching complement to fasano. Haynos is NOT the answer.

Ted Ginn is working with Hank Baskett to be on Miami's hand teams for onside kicks.

Fasano is too slow to be an elite TE.

to Indiana Dolfan (and bobbyd12).
That was my original question and i agree with bobbyd12 and other people who kindly post in this site: "if we McClain is available at 12 take him or else take a NT" or something like that. We are all fans of the dolphins no need to get angry.

I think people had higher expectations from Fasano after his 1st year here. The 2 fumbles against ATL stick in peoples mind. People need to understand with Pennington, fasano was usually going ti be a primary target, no less than the 2nd option. With Henne, we have a more vertical passing game, thus fasano becomes a later read. I believe we don't need a set player at a position on offense, I think a guy line Aaron hernandez or a Dexter mccluster can be used in a variety of ways. Yes we need a big time WR, but we can accomplish similar results mismatch wise with other players as well.

Personally, I had higher expectations of Fasano when he came out of Notre Dame. man, he and Brady Quinn had something going on there. However, he is a more than capable player but they need that complementary player to stretch the seam at TE.

I like Fasano. But I can think of at least 3 times where he had to overextend on seam routes from that lack of speed. The window is small on those throws, and becomes even smaller when the TE isn't fast.

I think he is gone from the starting lineup. Everytime Sparano praises someone they end up getting cut.

The Cuban has arrived at his parents house in the Westchester area of Miami, NJ weather is around 76 degrees, when is the closing of the buffoon writing contest???? Do I still have time for some buffoonery????

Dear Mr. Salguero

I'm not really an X's and O's kind of guy...more of an idea kinda guy with fuzzy logic.

I say we draft that fat ugly chick with no shirt on. You had a picture of her on another article a few days ago.......Tammmy, terrance tanya or sumthin like that, last name was Cody.

I say we draft her but only if she agree's to only bathe on mondays and only eats food that gives her gas.

Imagine the Funk come Sundays.

Soiled :)

adrian solorza - I am not getting angry or trying to anger anyone, but all I am saying that we need LB's (hence the plural version) more than a NT (hence the singular)...

Soiled, Still looking for a Secretary of health in the Dodsworth/Menace administration, will you be applying??

Sorry, NJ--I usually agree with you, but Fasano had a horrendous year, and his fumbles in ATL started us on our slide into mediocrity. Major disappointment.
Say buh-bye.

Dear Mr. Menace

"Soiled, Still looking for a Secretary of health in the Dodsworth/Menace administration, will you be applying??"

Thats depends apon the response I recieve from "The New World Order" I put an application in for Banquet sever or Busboy.

Just waiting to hear from them first.

Soiled :)

Damn you Cuban! You brought NY with you! Its supposed to get cold here tonight

The ol perfesser along with waterboy has now moved into the top 5..

Cuban , you sly dog. You left ( if you left ) just before we're about to get hit wih a foot of snow. The contest is open until midnight tonight or if a new blog goes up.

bobbyd12 - By no means am I trying to be disrespectful to you. I just think there is a difference in most important position to a 3-4 defense and most important position to any team running a 3-4, because every team running a 3-4 defense will probably have a different "must need" position...

Obviously we cannot fill multiple needs with one pick, so one way or the other not every need can be fixed with the snap of a finger. I just feel that the multiple positions we need help on out weighs the importance of a single NT position even though it is the most important in a 3-4. Multiple positions is a higher need than a singular position with this situation IMO...

I respect your opinion and do realize we need an upgrade at the NT position, just not as much as we need help at LB...

As I stated earlier, this guy could be a sleeper late round pick for our LB position:


Any thoughts?

OY VEY !!!

The Ol'Perfesser-
What makes you say that Fasano had a "horrible" year??? He had a solid 31 catches in 14 games for 339 yards for a 10.9 yard avg. and 2 TD's. Not to mention his blocking abilities. Yes he started out slow, but then he turned it around quickly. His avg says that everytime he touched the ball it went for a first down. His TD's went down from 7 to 2 in 2009, but I bet that's because unlike Penny, Henne found a way to spread his TD's passes. Fasano is young very competitive and an all around TE. I don't see why you want him out..

To bad NJ I'll be thinking about you guys in the tri-state area while I enjoy warm weather in a slightly cloudy Miami, and I'll see if I can come up with the buffonest post.... I'am sure I can, give me 20 minutes and I'll post the winner......

enrique , don't forget that fasano did NOT start this teams fall to mediocracy. Miami was already mediocre and then injuries sealed it's fate.

Another late round sleepers. I know these are all IU players I have mentioned and not saying we have to get them because they are from IU, but just curious to know others thoughts on these guys as well as the one I posted above..




Fasano had a down year when it was expected that he would improve. Add to that his average performance and I'm not sure there are many supporters for him being THE answer at TE. I think Dallas had this one right, he's a good #2 TE, especially for teams that run two TE sets like the Fins.

NJ - Aren't you supposed to be a college scout GURU? You have any thoughts on these guys I mentioned in my last 2 posts?

F U MENACE !!!!!!! :)

Fasano had a lousy year. It was a huge let down from the promise he showed in 2008-09.

The rest of you keep drinking the Kool-Aid & keep telling yourselves that Fasano is wonderful.

Too many critical drops/fumbles, NO big plays.

And his "blocking ability" helped get Henne crushed on several key downs.

He's just another guy who plays tight end. Nothing Special. He damn sure ain't an elite TE in the Dallas Clark/Anth. Gonzalez/Shockey mold.

Why is everyone so hot & bothered about him coming back? If he does, he does; if not, not. So Effing what.

But if you DARE criticize Fasano, NJ will carry an eternal grudge & flame you forever.

Really? For Fasano?!!?!?! I just don't get it.

NJ - You act all impressive, so I'll be waiting for your analysis and see if you are worth the hype you say you are!! :)

Posted by the Ol' Professor:
He's just another guy who plays tight end. Nothing Special. He damn sure ain't an elite TE in the Dallas Clark/Anth. Gonzalez/Shockey mold.

Since when has Anth. Gonzalez been a tight end? Isn't he an injured Colts WR?

Sorta curious about this TE out of Arizona Gronowski. 6:6 285 did not play last year had back surgery impressive numbers when he did play though...

Also, when did Fasano not block on numerous occasions to get Henne blasted?

Well I asked NJ opinion since he is the "college draft prospect guru" and he gets silence. Are you really as smart as you state on a daily basis? I am starting to get some doubt with that question?

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