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61 posts from March 2010

March 09, 2010

Ferguson signs despite substance suspension

The Dolphins have re-signed veteran nose tackle Jason Ferguson to a new contract today, despite the fact he is suspended the first eight games of the 2010 season.

Ferguson was suspended over the weekend for violating the NFL substance abuse policy.

The intriguing part of all this is that Ferguson is still rehabilitating from quadricep surgery and will not be ready to play football until early September the earliest.

That raises the question whether Ferguson must wait until he is healthy to begin serving his suspension. The answer, an NFL spokesman told me today, is no. Ferguson's suspension will begin the first week of the season and carry for the eight games.

The signing of Ferguson obviously shows he wants to continue his career at 36-years-old. And it speaks to the lack of quality nose tackles on the free agent market. 

This contract insulates the Dolphins for having a veteran, experienced nose tackle on the roster the final eight games of the season when they might be making a playoff push. At the same time, the deal doesn't preclude that Miami find another nose tackle in the draft and find no need for Ferguson if that is the right call next October.

Terms of the contract are not yet available.

Five days into free agency is no time to panic

Unrestricted free agency started as a sprint over the weekend when many NFL teams jockeyed for position to immediately land their prize targets or re-sign their best players.

The Dolphins got Karlos Dansby who is an upgrade at inside linebacker. The Dolphins locked up backup quarterback Chad Pennington. And they added by subtracting Joey Porter and Gibril Wilson.

But not all has gone according to plan.

The Dolphins have struggled to land a starting-caliber free safety because fate has not been kind. They put a certain value on Antrel Rolle and the New York Giants placed a higher value on him and got him. Value is defined here by cold, hard cash.)

They placed a higher value on Ryan Clark than his most recent team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Clark, a classy, solid dude, had other priorities he had to answer to. So Clark left Dolphins money on the table in order to return to the Steelers.

Some front offices might begin to panic. I trust the Dolphins will not, not with Bill Parcells at the helm.

On the surface, the situation looks uncomfortable if not dire.

A survey of the landscape shows the Dolphins have needs at too many positions to solve all those needs through the draft. 

They need a starting OLB, a NT, a starting FS, and, of course, a playmaker at WR. Always a playmaker at WR.

So what to do?

While Cincinnati is hosting both Antonio Bryant and Terrell Owens this week, while Seattle is studying Brandon Marshall, after Baltimore traded for Anquan Boldin and Kansas City signed Chris Chambers, the Dolphins have done nothing.

I love Boldin -- a lot. But I cannot criticize the Dolphins for not moving on anyone left. It would be a sign of desperation for them to go after domestic batterer Marshall. Even if the move might be popular with fans and sell tickets, it would be a huge risk.

Owens will be 36 years old. He's better than any wide receiver the Dolphins currently have, no question. But did I mention he'll be 36 years old? And he has a history that rubs Parcells the wrong way. So is the Big Tuna going to basically cast off everything he believes in and chase this player? That would be a sign of desperation.

Bryant? He has had issues with his knees. His career byline is one of inconsistency and wearing out his coaches and his welcome. He also apparently would like a nice payday.

So maybe, just maybe, the Dolphins would best be served by sitting this one out if they have a plan. (God, please let them have a plan!)

The safety position is equally troubling because the Dolphins don't have a starter at the position. By their chase of both Rolle and Clark, the Dolphins have told everyone they don't think Chris Clemons is ready to be a starter and might never be. Remember, they offered those guys multi-year deals so the team was comfortable with Clemons not starting at FS for some time.

The problem is that the free agent options are running out. Darren Sharper is very, very, very productive but also older than Miami typically likes. He's also coming off knee surgery and reportedly isn't taking trips. O.J. Atogwe continues to be out there, but as of this writing, no contact from the Dolphins.

The Dolpins obviously didn't want to draft for this position. They might need to unless they can uncover a double-secret starting FS no one is aware of.

And then there are the other issues the Dolphins haven't even attempted to address in free agency: The team needs at least one starting outside linebacker, but DeMarcus Ware isn't available. They need a nose tackle but Vince Wilfork re-signed with New England. The Dolphins are a team in much need. 

So why am I not crying "The Sky is falling" from my house top?

Two years ago, as the Steelers and Cards were preparing for a Super Bowl year, neither team signed a free agent early on. Last year at this team, neither the Colts nor the Saints signed a free agent early on.

Free agency is less than a week old. It is not Labor Day yet. The draft will plug some of these holes. And since this front office doesn't typically show desperation, neither will I. At least not yet. It is way too early for that.

March 08, 2010

Ryan Clark returns to Steelers, Dolphins FS search must continue

When Ryan Clark landed in South Florida it seemed as if the Dolphins had identified their future starting free safety and all that needed to happen was a little solid negotiatin' and the deal would be done.

Well, the deal isn't done.

And the deal isn't getting done, not in Miami anyway.

Clark is re-signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a source tells me. His visit with the Dolphins, cordial, was productive, but not enough. Clark told the Dolphins he wanted to remain with Pittsburgh.

[Update 7:12 p.m.: Various media outlets are now reporting Clark agreed to a four-year deal with the Steelers.]

So what do the Dolphins miss out on? Check it out.

The Pennington contract covers all the bases

The Dolphins decision to bring back Chad Pennington and his decision to come back has raised some interesting possibilities for the two sides and it seems all those are covered in his soon-to-be-signed contract.

Although it has been widely reported that Pennington agreed to a one-year contract with the Dolphins worth $2.5 million with a "trade bonus" of $1.515 million if the team trades him, it has not been widely circulated (that I've seen) what happens if Pennington sets training camp on fire at the same time Chad Henne struggles.

The contract Pennington agreed stipulates that if Pennington starts over Henne, the veteran gets a salary of $5.75 million.

The number isn't what's important. What is important is that Pennington has agreed to be the backup and would accept that role. But, being a competitor, he is not simply going to come to camp and simply lay down -- at least not once his arm starts feeling good.

Pennington will want to be the best quarterback he can be.

And as the Dolphins gave Pennington the starter's clause in the contract, they obviously see the possibility (however small) that he might win the starting job at some point (either through competition or injury to Henne) and would, therefore, merit a higher salary.

So while both Pennington and the Dolphins have agreed his stated role will be the backup role, both also recognize there is a chance he 1. could be traded or 2. could be the starter.

Talk about running the gamut of possibilites.

[Update: I'm told Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis suffered a wrist injury toward the end of the 2009 season and spent several weeks in a cast afterward. It is unclear if the injury required surgery. Davis has since progressed enough to have the cast removed and is now rehabilitating. He could be limited initially at the start of the team's conditioning program but should be 100 percent for minicamps and training camp.] 

Come back in a bit, I'll have more stuff posting soon.

March 06, 2010

(Mostly) quiet on Miami Dolphins front

Why am I working today?

Bill Parcells isn't. He spent Saturday morning in Jupiter, FL. at the shared training facility of the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. Parcells is tight with Cards manager Tony LaRussa and has a healthy respect for Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, also.Tuna marlins

So the Big Tuna is taking in a spring training game this afternoon. Of course, he has his phone with him and is in contact with the home office back in Davie. But this all suggests today doesn't compare with Friday's start of free agency for electric activity.

The team should announce the signing of Karlos Dansby later today. The fact is the NFL transactions wire has him as signed already.

[Update 2:30 p.m.: The contracts have been signed and the club is expected to announce the signing of Dansby and Chad Pennington within the next 90 minutes or so.]

[Update 4 p.m. :The Dolphins did not have any UFA visits today that they are reporting to the NFL. And the Dansby contract, in fact, will be signed in a few minutes. Last-second language stuff. He's on the way to the facility to get it done.]

One would assume the team is making calls on it's second wave of free agents -- assuming there are any.

It stands to reason that as safety was a priority as soon as Antrel Rolle (the one that got away) was cut loose by Arizona, that Miami would take the next logical step toward filling that spot. The next logical step would be to check out the other available free safeties on the market.

The Herald's Jeff Darlington is reporting the Dolphins have not to this moment shown interest in St. Louis Rams restricted free agent O.J. Atogwe. Atogwe was tendered with a right of first refusal contract, meaning the Dolphins wouldn't have to pay draft choice compensation to sign Atogwe.

Another restricted free agent safety is Indy's Antoine Bethea. The guy was a Pro Bowl player, if you recall. The draft pick compensation on him is substantial -- a first round pick. But one would suppose the team could always work a trade with the Colts rather than give up the first-round selection. (Maybe a second-rounder?)

Many of you have asked about Darren Sharper as a Dolphins possibility. He'll be 35 years old in November and the Dolphins didn't show any interest in him last year when he was a year younger and available cheaply. This one would not make sense at this time.

Pittsburgh's Ryan Clark is available. Good player. Make sense. The Herald is looking into whether he is on the radar or not.

The one that got away met with the press corps that covers his new team today.

Safety Antrel Rolle was introduced to the New York media today. (Yes, some teams actually have press conferences to introduce their new players.) Rolle talked about what type of player the Giants are getting.

"I think I can make any type of play, to be honest" he said. "Not to sound cocky or arrogant, but that's just the way I am. I'm never going into a game and deny myself an opportunity. If it presents itself, I think I can definitely make the play."

Rolle talked about how the Giants made him feel comfortable and reminded him how it was being recruited at the University of Miami. The Miami native said he felt "like home" with the Giants.

Let me tell you another reason Rolle isn't actually playing at home, as in for the Dolphins. MONEY!

The Giants blew the Dolphins away on the cash front. The Dolphins offered Rolle a deal averaging $6 million per season. The Giants paid Rolle a deal that averages $7.4 million per season.

And the Dolphins didn't come in second for Rolle. They were third.

Rolle said the Arizona Cardinals were willing to match the Giants offer. The Dolphins clearly were not. 

Check back often as I will have the latest updates from The Herald team right here. And follow me on twitter. Also, follow Darlington on twitter.

Thoughts going into the 2nd day of free agency

Three thoughts going into the second day of free agency:

1. You guys know I'm kinda sorta obssessed with the Dolphins landing some top-caliber wide receivers, right? You know that I am convinced a team cannot win an NFL championship with second-tier wide receivers and the only reason I believe that is because it's true.

So I'm kind of distressed about Miami's wide receiver problem. And I'm distressed about the Dolphins weren't signficant players in the derby to trade for Cardinals star WR Anquan Boldin.

The fact is three teams with very solid personnel departments chased a Boldin trade on Friday. At one point in the day the New England Patriots were in the talks and when I heard that, I felt a bit vomititious. You see, the idea of facing Randy Moss and Wes Welker is bad enough. The thought of Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Anquan Boldin?

Luckily, Boldin ends up in Baltimore.

But I have serious concerns that Miami isn't pressing enough on the WR issue. And the unrestricted free agent receiver pool is practically dry. Terrell Owens is out there but Bill Parcells won't go for that. Antonio Bryant is out there but the Dolphins haven't made any serious overtures of interest as of this writing. There was a report the Dolphins might be interested in Derrick Mason but I believe he wants to return to Baltimore.

So where does that leave us? Restricted free agency?

Restricted free agent Brandon Marshall is visiting Seattle today. That's their problem.

Philadelphia's Jason Avant can be signed for a second-round pick but he is primarily a slot receiver. New Orleans's Lance Moore can be signed for a second round pick but he's often injured and smallish. Arizona's Steve Breaston is available for a first-round pick but it's a first round pick! Dallas's unproven Sam Hurd can be had for a second rounder but he's unproven.

I don't believe the Dolphins would invest a 1st and a 3rd on San Diego's Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd.

We're screwed!

Face it, Owens for one year might be the best investment. Is he a pain? Not usually the first year.

Is he no longer capable of playing? I think he proved to Vontae Davis (below) that he's still got it. Owens caught 55 passes for 829 yards and 5 TDs last year. He did it on a team that fired its offensive coordinator one week before the season. He did it on a team that had no quarterback. He did it on a team that fired its head coach during the season.

And his 829 yards and five scores still would have led the Dolphins.

Does Parcells hate the idea? Of course, but desperate times call for desperate measures and it's not like one year would constitute a long-term commitment.

I know, I'm dreaming. But I think it could work as well as, say, chasing Antonio Bryant.

2. I'm happy for Chad Pennington. He has been offered and is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Dolphins. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Pennington will not receive the no-trade clause he was seeking for the Dolphins. Instead the team got over the obstacle with, what else, money.

The $2.5 million offer I reported to you yesterday is still the deal but it now also includes, according to Mortensen, a $1.515 million trade bonus. So if the Dolphins decide they aren't keeping Pennington and can get him traded, they must pay him the bonus.

A couple of things:

First, the Dolphins could not give Pennington the no-trade on philosophical grounds as much as anything. If they do it for him, they might have to do it for others. And they don't want to do it for anyone else.

Second, Pennington wants to stay in Miami next year. The Dolphins might trade him anyway.

3. Nate Jones agreed to terms with the Denver Broncos Friday for what was reported as a four-year deal worth up to $13.6 million if he reaches all his incentives. Jones clearly is a free agency winner but I'm certain the Dolphins could have gotten him for less if they'd offered him a contract in the weeks prior to free agency. They didn't.

And that makes me wonder how the Dolphins could let Jones, their nickel cornerback and a good special teams player, go without an offer, but they keep Jason Allen, who couldn't beat out Jones the last two years?

Things that make me go, hmmmmmm.  

March 05, 2010

Karlos Dansby expected to sign by Saturday

Karlos Dansby is close to reaching agreement on a contract with the Dolphins and the sides are expected to wrap up negotiations by Saturday morning, a source is telling The Herald's Jeff Darlington.

Dansby, 28, will sign a deal for five years worth $43 million with $22 million of it guaranteed, Darlington is reporting.

Dansby will make $9 million per year over the first three years.

The signing will be Miami's signature free agent move since Bill Parcells & Co. took over the Dolphins in 2008. The only linebackers that will be getting paid more than Dansby in 2010 are DeMarcus Ware and Terrell Suggs and both of them are pass-rushers.

The signing clearly numbs the sting of not chasing wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was traded from the Arizona Cardinals to the Baltimore Ravens this afternoon.

Free safety Antrel Rolle, the last of the Three Cards Studs is still unsigned but strong indications are he will end up with the Giants, according to a league source.

[Update 10 p.m.: Rolle agreed to a 5-year deal worth $37 million with the Giants, the source tells me. Rolle gets $15 million guaranteed.]

Guess 1-for-3 isn't terrible.

Anquan Boldin headed from Arizona to Baltimore

The Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens just concluded talks on a deal that will send receiver Anquan Boldin and a 2010 fifth-round pick from the Cardinals to the Ravens for 2010 third- and fourth-round picks.

ESPN's Adam Schefter was the first to report the move.

And while it doesn't affect the Dolphins directly, I'm adding it here because, well, I am terribly disappointed the Dolphins weren't involved in this thing.

The Ravens needed wide receiver help. I get that. So they made the deal and will likely sign Boldin to a nice contract very soon.

[Update: He has agreed to a four-year, $28 million contract.]

Guess what?

The Dolphins need wide receiver help, too.

Does anyone believe the picks they will use in the third and fourth round this year will produce as much as Boldin does in the next couple of years? I seriously doubt it.

Does anyone think Ozzie Newsome is not nearly as smart a personnel man as Bill Parcells?

Karlos Dansby visits while Ayodele, others cut

Linebacker Karlos Dansby is finally in South Florida.

No, he hasn't signed -- yet.

The Dolphins just released the names of the unrestricted free agents they are visiting with on the first day of free agency. And Dansby is officially the only one.

The team, meanwhile, is doing some addition by subtraction apparently.

The team has announced the release of Joey Porter, Akin Ayodele and Gibril Wilson.

It is no coincidence that everything the Dolphins are doing so far is defense related. The defense was a problem in in 2009 and what you are seeing is the continuation of the revamping that began when coordinator Paul Pasqualoni was fired and Mike Nolan was hired.

First you change coaches. Then you change players.

(If that fails you change higher ranking coaches and general managers. Just saying.)

Ayodele saw his play suffer in 2009. Although his tackle numbers were on par year to year, he struggled mightily in coverage and was often beaten to tackles by strong safety Yeremiah Bell -- a Pro Bowl player who often lined up 10 yards behind Ayodele.

We all recognized the Porter termination was coming. The Dolphins had an aborted attempt to release him last month. They had to bring him back on the roster because they blew their salary cap calculations. Releasing Porter today has no salary cap implications for the Dolphins as their is no cap hit because there is no cap!

It is clear the Dolphins feel good about signing Dansby. The release of Ayodele speaks to that in part. But the fact he is in town before he goes elsewhere signals this is Miami's deal to lose.

Agent: Gibril Wilson will be released today

The Dolphins, flirting with signing free safety Antrel Rolle, have good reason to make that push: They will have a void at the position in a couple of hours.

Agent Alvin Keels, who represents Gibril Wilson, tweeted moments ago that his client will be cut today.

[Update 2 p.m.: A league source tells me the Dolphins are STILL in discussions with agent Drew Rosenhaus about Rolle even amid reports he is visiting the New York Giants today. It's ain't over yet.]

Thank you, God!

In my opinion, which I have shared here countless times, Wilson was the player that did most damage to Miami's chances of winning games last year.

He hurt the team against Indianapolis, being directly responsible for not one, not two, but three touchdowns.

He hurt the team against New Orleans, being directly responsible for one touchdown and getting run over by Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey.

Wilson was a free agency bust from A to Z -- just as he was a bust in Oakland. Per Keels, Wilson is now free to negotiate with any team that wants him. That new team would be his fourth in four years, which tells you something about the guy's ability.

Don't feel sorry for Wilson. He's made a whopping $24 million in guaranteed money the past two years.

This move has several moving parts:

It makes the free safety job a need for the Dolphins. If the Rolle free agent chase works, then the position is filled.

If Rolle signs elsewhere despite having a contract offer on the table from his hometown team, then the Dolphins may move on to other free agent targets. They might look at O.J. Atogwe of the Rams.

Atogwe was the Rams' franchise player in 2009 but is on the market as a restricted free agent this year. There is no draft pick compensation due St. Louis for signing Atogwe. Any offer a team makes to Atogwe can be matched by the Rams, but the Dolphins can obviously put a poison pill in any offer to prevent St. Louis from matching.

[Update 12:34: I'm told the Dolphins have been talking about Pittsburgh unrestricted free agent Ryan Clark. I'm digging on that now.]

The Dolphins can also draft a safety. Two that stand out as possible first rounders are Eric Berry of Tennessee and Earl Thomas of Texas. Berry has been compared to Ed Reed. He probably won't be there at No. 12 but obviously anything can happen.

Thomas is a very instinctive cornerback. He has position versatility as he has shown ability to run and cover so he can help in the nickel and dime packages. Thomas should be there at No. 12, but again, anything can happen.

Today should be an interesting day, not only because of the player(s) visiting the Dolphins, but those exiting. Joey Porter will be cut as early as today. Jason Allen, Akin Ayodele and Reggie Torbor are on the bubble, too.

It would not surprise me if Ted Ginn Jr. is not on the team next year, either, by the way.

Now let me address this: Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland strongly defended Wilson at the Combine last month and even suggested Wilson would return to Miami this year.

"A lot of things you would try to blame on him ... those weren't always his fault," Ireland said of Wilson. "We have our evaluation of Gibril Wilson. We know what kind of player he's capable of being. I think he's going to be a very good player for the future. He was disappointed in his play last year. He will tell you that. I think he can play better. We'll just have to see. I think he will."

Yeah, well, Ireland is now on the take-everything-he-says-with-a-grain-of-salt list. Come to think of it, that should actually get him a big attaboy from the Dolphins.

But wait ... The Cards aren't folding on Dansby

As Karlos Dansby is scheduled to visit the Dolphins today it is obvious Bill Parcells and Co. are making him the priority free agent of this offseason.

But ...

Dansby isn't going to simply come in, shake hands with Tony Sparano, and ask for the nearest contract and pen. He is clearly eager to work the system to get the most (meaning cash) out of whatever team is bidding on him ... and now that includes the Arizona Cardinals.

A league source texted me moments ago saying the Cardinals today reached out to the Dansby camp to "talk about keeping him." Translation: The Cardinals are offering Dansby a contract, too.

On another note: Want to update the Chad Pennington situation. The team and quarterback have talked about a one-year, $2.5 million deal with incentives. but as ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported yesterday, he wants a no-trade clause in the deal. And the Dolphins aren't giving that right now.

One thing to remember: It is not a done deal until it is a done deal. It's not done yet.

Keep coming back throughout the day for the latest updates.

[Update 10:55: Well, that didn't take long. Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network is reporting the New England Patriots have an offer in to Julius Peppers. Yikes! Peppers is visiting the Bears today.]

Dansby to make first free agent visit to Miami

The Dolphins today have to be considered the early favorite to sign linebacker Karlos Dansby.

Dansby, 28, confirmed on ESPN after midnight Friday morning that he will visit with the Dolphins Friday. "I just got off the phone with my agent," Dansby said, "and he told me our first visit right now is Miami. We have other things lined up."

And away we go!

Obviously, Dansby will be in South Florida sometime in the afternoon. He was not, contrary to various reports, aboard a plane to Miami at midnight. (Oh and reports that claim they were slightly "off" on their claims were wrong, too. This isn't horseshoes or hand grenades.)

The Dolphins will do everything they can to keep Dansby from leaving town without a contract. They have a relationship with Dansby's agent Todd France, who also represents running back Ronnie Brown.

But Dansby will cost. As I reported earlier, he's looking for $30 million guaranteed.

The Dolphins were not messing around Thursday even before the new league year began at midnight. They were among the first teams to speak with local agent Drew Rosenhaus about safety Antrel Rolle, according to a source close to Rolle.

I have not confirmed that Miami has offered Rolle a contract as has been written elsewhere. Going to be cautious here.

On another front, a source close to Chad Pennington is saying the quarterback wants to play for the Dolphins. Nothing new thee. There is no contract agreement, but it seems the veteran will do whatever he can to be with the Dolphins as a backup.

If there is a follow through on this -- and remember it's not done until and unless there is a contract -- the Dolphins may find themselves with four quarterbacks at the end of training camp. And that could be one quarterback too many.

I do know the Buffalo Bills have sniffed around about Tyler Thigpen so that might be an option for alleviating the crowded quarterback room.

One small caveat to all this: The Carolina Panthers released starting QB Jake Delhomme on Thursday. Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning coached Delhomme the year the Panthers went to the Super Bowl. Not saying it's going to happen, but again, until Pennington has a signed contract with the Dolphins, he hasn't.

[Update: Chris Mortenson of ESPN is reporting Pennington wants a no-trade clause to sign with the Dolphins. Dolphins have resisted. Like I said, it's not done until it's done.]

The New York Jets, perhaps Miami's biggest rival, have already made a significant move Thursday evening. They acquired cornerback Antonio Cromartie from the San Diego Chargers for a 2011 third-round pick that could be a second-rounder depending on Cromartie's play and how far the Jets advance.

Cromartie led the NFL with seven interceptions in 2007 but has only five picks in the two years since. The Chargers had grown weary of his unmet potential. Rex Ryan, who loved Cromartie coming out of FSU years ago, believes he can play man-coverage on either side now and bring even more pressure than he did last year.

The Jets had the No. 1 defense in the NFL last season.

March 04, 2010

Sources: Dansby not flying, Rolle a possibility

Karlos Dansby is not on his way to South Florida this evening, according to The Herald's Jeff Darlington. And the Dolphins are showing initial interest in now-former Arizona safety Antrel Rolle, a source tells me.

Darlington is hearing from a source that is refuting a report in the National Football Post that said Dansby was flying to Miami Thursday evening.

This doesn't mean Dansby isn't on the Dolphins radar. The team has had eyes on him this offseason. But it does mean there will not be a wine-and-dine session beginning at midnight as some have speculated.

The truth is Dansby doesn't have to be in South Florida to be signed by the Dolphins. These things often get done on the phone with the agent. And if a contract agreement is reached, the player can sign the deal and fax it back to the team.

And as the Dolphins don't hold press conferences for their free agent acquisitions, Dansby definitely doesn't have to fly in the night free agency begins.

As for Rolle, his contract was terminated by the Cardinals today. His agent Drew Rosenhaus is now shopping Rolle as we speak.

And a source tells me their exists a possibility Rolle ends up with the Dolphins -- the team he wants to play for.

[Update: The Chicago Tribune is reporting Rosenhaus is talking to the Bears. I am reporting he's talked to at least three teams since Rolle was released. And he expects to give the Cardinals one final shot before signing with anyone other than the Dolphins. If the Dolphins are the team, Arizona doesn't get one last chance because Miami is ultimately where Rolle wants to play. Rosenhaus is able to do this because Rolle is not an unrestricted free agent. His contract was terminated and therefore he is on the market right now.]

Rolle, however, is playing this thing coyly.

'I'm leaving myself open to all markets right now," Rolle said on his blog at PlayerPress.com. "I will be looking for teams with certain defensive schemes and teams that have a good reputation as far as how the organization is run. But right now I am willing to listen to anyone."

True. But if the Dolphins interest increases, he's going to be all ears for the home team.

Rolle is a South Miami-Dade resident and a former University of Miami standout.

  

Brandon Marshall: Great talent, lots of baggage

So the Denver Broncos put a first-round tender (only a first-round tender, it is being portrayed in league circles) on Brandon Marshall and immediately Dolphins fans think Miami should rush to trade for the enigmatic wide receiver.

I don't believe this is today an idea being seriously considered within the Dolphins halls connecting the offices of Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano. Frankly, it would be out-of-character for those men to be currently planning a move for Marshall because they are excellent football men.

And excellent football men don't trade the No. 12 overall selection in the first round -- a premium draft pick by any measure -- then pay a king's ransom in a new contract, all for the right to inherit someone else's headache.

For the record, Marshall is a supremely talented individual. He is 6-4 and 230 pounds and has caught over 100 passes for over 1,000 yards in each of the last three seasons.

But guess what? Marshall is not the answer to every Miami problem that is, has been, and will be. Fact is Marshall has helped the Broncos reach the playoffs zero times in the three years he was posting those fat numbers.

And that's not even the first problem with chasing Marshall.

Marshall has shown a troubling side for over a year now. He was witness in the murder trial of former Broncos player Darrent Williams because he was at the club the night the shooting happened and played a small role in the altercation that may have led to the crime.

Show of hands, how many of you remember what Bill Parcells said he tells his players all the time?

"Stay out of the clubs."

Anyway, in his trial testimony Marshall said that not one day passes when he doesn't think of Williams. "Every day," Marshall said. It was an emotional and stirring moment when he said that as his eyes were watering. But that death happened over three years ago. Perhaps it sounds callous, but NFL teams worry about the emotional state of players they are about to acquire.

Any team considering Marshall must gauge this testimony. And they must gauge his history of domestic violence which is best outlined by the video below.

Then there are the other troubling issues. Why do you think the Broncos want to get rid of Marshall? Is it because he's a really good player? Is it because he caught an NFL record 21 passes in one game last year and is a mismatch against practically any defensive back he faces?

KC Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers once said Marshall, "is a defensive lineman playing wide receiver. He wants to inflict phyisal punishment on you. He wants you to try to tackle him so he can shove you off of him and get more yards."

You think that's the reason the Broncos want him gone?

Or do you think it's because they have weighed Marshall's positives against his negatives and have found the negatives weigh more?

Buyer beware, folks.

Marshall had several run-ins with new coach Josh McDaniels last year. That doesn't worry me so much because so did new Miami defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. But Marshall's behavior was unprofessional following those run-ins. He supposedly dropped passes in practices on purpose because he was upset.

That got him benched for the final two games of the preseason. Funny thing is he'd been benched the first two preseason games for conduct detrimental to the team.

Then he was benched for the final regular season game because he reportedly blew off a physical therapy session.

Does any of this sound like a Bill Parcells player? Does this sound like a player Parcells will give the No. 12 pick in the draft for?

On top of all this, Marshall will require a contract that keeps him happy. It is not beyond imagination that he believes he should be paid what the most productive WRs in the NFL make because, frankly, he's among the top producers. The five highest-paid WRs in 2009 averaged $9.5 million in salary and that price is likely to climb for Marshall to be happy.

That doesn't matter now. There will be no salary cap in 2010. But no one knows what is over the fiscal horizon in the NFL -- or in this country, for that matter. So what seems like an acceptable contract now could become an anchor around the neck of a future Dolphins offseason.

I'm not saying Brandon Marshall won't be traded. He likely will.The Broncos want badly to get rid of him and mny teams are actively looking for WRs and want to make a splash.

I am saying any team that lands Marshall will have paid a steep, steep price to acquire a player with great talent and a great amount of baggage.

Does that sound like the Dolphins to you? I don't think so at this time.

Making a play for The Three Cards Studs

Less than 24 hours from the start of the NFL's new league year and Dolphins fans have cast their sights primarily on one place: Arizona.

It is in Arizona that linebacker Karlos Dansby is about to become an unrestricted free agent. It is in Arizona where safety Antrel Rolle is about to be released, barring an unlikely last-second agreement on a contract restructure. It is in Arizona that wide receiver Anquan Boldin is on the trade block and apparently can be had relatively reasonably.

For Dolphins fans, and to some accurate degree for the Dolphins themselves, what happens with the trio from Arizona will determine how successful Miami's dip into free agency and trades this new league year will seem once it begins at midnight March 5.

So allow me to address the issues of The Three Cards Studs:

Dansby: The Dolphins are interested. There is no doubt about that. Too many NFL people are saying it for it not to be true. The latest to make the point is Andrew Brandt, the former VP of the Green Bay Packers who now writes the business of football column for National Football Post. He direct messaged me on my twitter Wednesday to stress he keeps hearing from his sources that the Dolphins are onto Dansby.

The NFL Network's Steve Wyche reported that three teams are onto Dansby, although he did not know the teams. I also don't know the other teams. But I can tell you Dansby expects something of an auction for his services and he will go to the highest bidder.

By auction, I'm talking Rembrandt type stuff here. Agent sources tell me Dansby will be "asking" $30 million in guaranteed money on a five-year contract that would expire when he's 33 years old.

He wants to set the market's new ceiling for a linebacker so he's going to start out somewhere in orbit. And understand the $30 mil is not the entire deal. The total cost of the deal Dansby will be asking will average at least $8 million annually. Do the math. The guy wants a deal of approximately $40 million with 75 percent of that guaranteed.

Of course, asking and getting are two different universes. But the fact more than two teams are apparently interested is a good sign for the former Auburn standout.

I would tell you Dansby would be the prize of unrestricted free agency for the Dolphins should they land him. But landing him will be neither easy nor cheap.

Rolle: As you know, The Miami Herald broke the story about Rolle wanting to play for the Dolphins. The former University of Miami standout hasn't changed his mind and he will get a chance to hit free agency because his agent Drew Rosenhaus and the Cardinals have been unable to agree on what Rolle is worth.

It is clear he's not worth the $4 million roster bonus due him March 9 plus the $8 million salary he's scheduled to earn from Arizona in 2010. Thus, the Cardinals will cut Rolle as early as Friday. They will allow him to test the market and see what he can find, while obviously believing they have a good enough sense of his worth that their offer to him will stand up with whatever the market is offering.

I regard this a case of more Rolle wanting to play for the Dolphins than the Dolphins wanting Rolle to play for them. He's a good player. He's a playmaker. But he, too, wants big bucks. (Shocking ain't it?)

The Chicago Tribune is reporting Rolle wants a contract that averages $8 million. The Dolphins will absolutely not come anywhere close to that. You might argue Miami paid an average of $5.5 million to Gibril Wilson to be a resounding bust, and that would be true.

But $8 million per year is more than game-changers Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu make on an annual average.

The interest the Dolphins show in Rolle will be the first test of Jeff Ireland's credibility when he suggested the team was expecting Wilson to play better in 2010. If Rolle is added, there would be no room for Wilson on the roster at all.

I believe Ireland to be honorable. I believe the Dolphins won't be making a strong bid on Rolle. We'll see.

Boldin: As The Miami Herald reported last week, Arizona is ready and willing to trade the former Florida State standout. On Wednesday, the NFL Network's Michael Lombardi reported the Cardinals want "only a third-round pick" for Boldin.

The question is whether that is what they are asking or if that is what it will actually take to move Boldin. I've reported in the past that Dolphins football czar Bill Parcells has a healthy respect for Boldin. Many NFL people do.

Parcells likes Boldin's toughness. Likes his production. Likes his size. Likes his game. Yes, there are questions about Boldin's age. There are also questions about his recent rash of nagging injuries. And then there's the contract -- more on that in a moment.

Given the variables, and deciphering sometimes painful conversations with sometimes reluctant sources, I reported on my twitter that Miami definitely would not give up a second round pick for Boldin but might possibly give up a fourth-rounder under perfect circumstances.

So the question is, again, are the Cardinals absolutely stuck on getting a third for Boldin? Or is the third their initial negotiating stance that they'd be willing to come down from?

Now, about that contract. The contract is the primary reason Boldin is on the market. He's been unhappy with his current deal for two years and would be unhappy again in 2010 in what is the deal's final year. So he wants a new deal that pays north of $7 million per season and probably closer to $9 million per season.

That is a ton of money even in an uncapped year and it could raise eyebrows because teams aren't absolutely certain what the financial realities will be beyond this coming year.

So anyone, including the Dolphins, that considers a trade for Boldin must weigh whether they can find a younger, cheaper receiver in the third or fourth round and accept the risk of that player never panning out. And the teams must also weigh whether adding a proven 29-year-old Boldin is worth a draft pick plus a big contract.

It's all measuring risk versus reward.

That's how it is when you make a play for The Three Cards Studs.

  


  

March 03, 2010

RFA tenders for Dolphins are out of the bag

Only two days to the opening of unrestricted free agency and the Dolphins are bracing for March 5 by getting some financial work done.

The club has tendered all three of its restricted free agents -- Anthony Fasano, Ronnie Brown and Quentin Moses.

The Herald's Jeff Darlington is reporting Fasano has been tendered a contract at $1,176,000. That means the Dolphins have the right of first refusal plus the right to a pick in the player's original round should Fasano sign with another team and Miami not match the offer.

Fasano was originally drafted in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys so any team signing him would have to give the Dolphins a second-round pick for him or negotiate a trade at a lower draft compensation.

Here's an interesting tidbit that Fasano must be steaming about today: The tender for second-round compensation is $1,759,000. But because Fasano was drafted in the second round, the Dolphins simply used the lower original round tender of $1,176,000.

Miami saves itself $600,000 and still gets the same compensation should they opt not to match another team's offer for Fasano. And while that is a savings for the team, Fasano is out $600 large.

The Dolphins have tendered Brown at 110 percent of his 2009 salary. The tender is worth $3,969,239 and the Dolphins would be due a first-round pick if another team signs Brown and they don't match.

For the sake of clarification, you might remember that Brown told The Miami Herald he had an option year for 2010 and would be under contract at $5 million if there was no cap. That was true assuming both he and the Dolphins exercised the option.

The Dolphins opted not to exercise the option for obvious reasons. They have a running back coming off a significant foot injury who is not yet able to run and cut at the start of free agency. Why would they elect to pay a $5 million contract when they can use the $3.97 million tender and save themselves approximately $1 million?

Moreover, it is unlikely any team would be willing to give up a first round pick for Brown given his current condition. And, in the unlikely case some team might give up such a high pick, that would leave the Dolphins in the enviable position of either keeping Brown by matching the offer or getting a first-round pick for him.

Bottom line? Ronnie Brown will almost definitely be with Miami in 2010.

The Salguero bottom line on both tenders? Great job by the Dolphins. They didn't overpay for either tender when a more antsy organization might have overpaid. Excellent work.

The Dolphins have only one other restricted free agent -- linebacker Quentin Moses. He has three accrued seasons. We're working on finding out what the deal is with him. Assuming the Dolphins tender him, it will be for $1,101,000 which will give Miami original round draft compensation. Moses was picked in the third round of the 2007 draft by Oakland.

[Update: I have confirmed the Dolphins tendered Moses at the original draft round tender -- $1,101,000.]

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Safeties our final act of Indy Combine coverage

The NFL Combine officially ended Tuesday when the defensive back were put through their paces at the Lucas Oil Can.

And there are varying opinions of players that improved their stock and those whose stock dropped like Toyota, including this view from Sports Illustrated.

Here we've got our own personal scout and Chris Cordero watched the drills and delivered this assessment of what he saw:

Eric Berry continues to impress putting his explosiveness on display with a very good 4.47 40-yard dash and an astonishing 43-inch vertical leap and great broad jump of 10-10. Not only did he display excellent athleticism but showed the footwork of a premier CB. He also showed premier ball skills. A two-time captain for the Volunteers he was only seven yards from breaking the NCAA record for return yardage. This guy's a playmaker in the mold of Ed Reed (although that sounds like []_[] blasphemy). He is the 3rd best player in the draft on my board and if he is there at #12, there is no question whom the Dolphins should select - regardless of how they feel about Gibril Wilson.

Earl Thomas was impressive. Coming in 12 pounds heavier than his regular playing weight and still running a 4.49 40-yard dash is big. He is another player that has CB skills at the safety position - displaying excellent footwork and good ball skills (though he did drop a ball on one drill that I saw). He looked fluid in his backpedal and turning and opening his hips to run with the receiver. He also displayed good upper body strength with 21 reps in the bench. He is a Top 15 talent in this deep draft; and at only 20 years old he should get better. Among the nation's leaders in interceptions and passes defended, he is a playmaker and would allow a defense many options with his supreme coverage skills. Should be in the conversation at #12.

Taylor Mays, outside of Maryland OT Bruce Campbell, might have been the most impressive athlete here. Going in, it was known that he would excel in the physical drills and he did not disappoint - blazing a 4.43 (and I think it was faster than that) at 6-3 and 230 pounds. However, he did not look sudden or quick in drills, did not display good ball skills, and had trouble opening up his hips and running. Due to his height he also has trouble staying low in his backpedal. On physical skills alone, he is a Top 5 talent but we have seen players like Mike Mamula and Vernon Gholston come in and light up the combine, get drafted very high, and not accomplish much in the pros (to be fair Gholston still has time). I give Mays a 2nd round grade due to his lack of coverage instincts for the position and could see him ending up at LB -- much like Thomas Davis of Carolina. Make no mistake, however, he will go in the 1st round and maybe as high as to the Raiders or to his former college coach with the Seahawks. But I see that as a reach.

Major Wright of Florida impressed me with his footwork in coverage drills. I had questions as to whether he could cover the deep third and felt as though he might be better off as an in-the-box strong safety type. But he took a step to answer those questions here at the combine. Timing at under 4.49 in the 40 was also impressive. He had a lot of talent around him on that Florida defense and that helped mask some of his deficiences on film. He had some trouble turning and running with fluidity of his hips, but overall was more impressive than I expected. I currently give him a 3rd round grade and see him as more of a strong safety type with the ability to cover backs and tight ends and some range in the deep secondary.

Two possible cornerback converts that stood out were Chris Cook (who was impressive in the Senior Bowl and reminds me of Sean Smith) and Myron Lewis. Cook stood out as an explosive athlete with the best broad jump of the combine at 11 feet and a 4.46 in the 40. He also flashed good footwork and fluidity in drills for a 6-2 CB and appears to be able to make the transition to safety. I give him a 3rd round grade. Lewis tested almost as well, running a 4.48 with a 10 and a half inch broad jump. However, he did not look nearly as fluid in drills and had trouble flipping his hips to turn and run -- meaning he would be better served by beginning the transition to safety from the get go. I give him a 4th round grade as he was a solid performer in the SEC for 3 years.

Two prospects that attended the combine but did not participate due to injury were Nate Allen and Morgan Burnett. Allen, who was very impressive at the Senior Bowl, is a player I feel can step in and lead a secondary for years. I give him a high 2nd round grade. Burnett, who has very good size and was among the NCAA leaders in interceptions two years ago as a sophomore, gets a 3rd round grade from me. I worry about his movement skills at the NFL level and feel that a talented front 7 at Georgia Tech helped mask some of his faults. His pro day will answer some of those questions.

The majority of the other safeties were In-the-box, strong safety types who lacked the fluidity and coverage instincts on film to cover the deep 3rd of the secondary. The Dolphins more likely do not want another Gibril Wilson situation with two strong safety types in the deep seconday. One guy that flashed some versatility was Darrell Stuckey of Kansas. He showed good speed and overall athleticism and had decent footwork and fluidity in coverage drills. I have him in the 4th round.

March 02, 2010

Stephen Ross: Money doesn't buy victories

With the uncapped year only days away, Dolphins fans can pretty much cast aside thoughts of their team breaking open the piggy bank as it dives into free agency.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told me moments ago that, "yes," the Dolphins have set an internal budget for 2010 and although he didn't want to get into specifics, he made it clear the team will neither be among 2010's highest spenders nor at the spending floor compared to other teams.

"I don't think money buys victories," Ross said as he walked to a meeting with other NFL owners at the Ritz-Carlton in Fort Lauderdale. "I think we have the right personnel to make the right decisions. And you do what you need to do. But you don't throw money at things just to buy victories. That doesn't do it. It's about your brains, not your pocketbook that does it."

Last season, the first under Ross as owner, the Dolphins spent a lot of money. According to NFLPA figures the team's total payroll of $126,855,921 was the second highest in the NFL behind only the New York Giants and their $137,638,866 total payroll.

And Ross seems to be correct in essentially saying money doesn't buy happiness because four of the top five spending teams in 2009 -- Miami, the Giants, Houston and Chicago -- did not make the playoffs. The fourth-highest spending team, New Orleans, won the Super Bowl. 

Miami's 2009 spending came with a caveat that won't affect the team this year: The Dolphins had multiple unrestricted free agents of their own they opted to sign -- Vernon Carey, Yeremiah Bell, Channing Crowder. And then they also chased outside free agents, including Gibril Wilson and Jake Grove.

That skewed Miami's cash outlay upward. The Dolphins likely won't be paying big signing bonuses to five high-priced free agents this year.

But again, Ross said the football men will be able to do "what they feel is necessary," to help the team. That suggests the Dolphins won't at the spending floor, either. That's smart because the Dolphins don't have a waiting list for season ticket holders. They need to win to keep people coming to games.

And speaking of coming to games, Ross said the team would announce, "probably today," its new ticket prices. The Dolphins say the announcement, in fact, will be later this week. But it seems clear the team will raise the price of at least some tickets.

In years when ticket prices have remained the same, the team has historically not felt the need to make an announcement.

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This blog rocks, and so do the nose tackles

Before we begin today let me share that Dolphins In Depth has been chosen among the top 100 blogs for NFL fans by the Forensic Scientist Blog. This is the only newspaper-oriented Dolphins blog on the list. I congratulate the folks at The Phinsider and Phinphanatic for being the only other Dolphins blogs included. Those guys often take shots at me but I appreciate that, like you, they read me every day.

On to the information.

Yesterday our aspiring scout Chris Codero gave you the knowledge about the linebackers and how they worked at the Indianapolis Combine. The defensive linemen also worked so let's catch up with what happened to the nose tackles -- a position the Dolphins must somehow address this offseason.

From Cordero:

Dan Williams disappointed a little with only 27 reps on the bench press but with his ideal short, squatty build for a NT, strong showing in the stack and shed drill with a strong punch and good knee bend, he did nothing to knock himself from being the third best DT in the draft. He will never be a great pass rusher; but he will absolutely be a great run stuffer. He showed enough in his senior season and Senior Bowl week to make me believe he could be a solid NT for the next 10 years. A first round lock in my eyes and, depending on who is available, could be the pick at #12. The Dolphins know what they are getting after the Senior Bowl and he came off as a player driven to succeed.

Terrence Cody's 40-yard dash time was terrible and he didn't lift, but who seriously expects Mount Cody to ever run 40 yards in one fell swoop anyway? By losing 16 pounds he has showed some commitment to improving himself and his draft stock. Some team could take a chance on him late in the first round due to the demand of his position - and if he continues to commit himself to improving his body and dedicate himself to the game, he could be a great NT for years to come as well. Would be a solid selection at No. 12 and again, the Dolphins should know more about him than most after having him at the Senior Bowl.

(Salguero interruption here: If the Dolphins pick Cody at No. 12, I would call it many things, but definitely not a "solid selection." To me it would a major reach. that pick would offer zero value because you don't want a two-down player that high in the draft. Sorry, Chris, but we don't agree. Back to your breakdown.) 

My bad, I meant to say it would be a solid pick at No. 43 - no way do I take him at 12! I don't agree with myself drafting him at No. 12! I was tired.....

Cam Thomas continues to impress me. He might be one of the fittest looking 330+ pounders I have seen. He had an adequate broad jump of about 8 and a half feet, showing decent lower level explosion for someone so big. He also showed quick feet in the stack and shed drill and a strong punch - although he could work on his knee bend and have a quicker punch. Because he is nealry 6-4 this could be an issue as strong, short interior linemen could get inside his pads easier and out-leverage him. I have him in the 3rd round; but with the demand on the position, don't be surprised to see him go in the 2nd.

A couple of other NT prospects where fairly impressive as well:

Jeff Owens put up 44 reps on the bench; and also has that short, squatty build teams like in a NT. He also displays quick feet in the drills - his motor runs hot and cold though in film I have seen. Again, after having him at the Senior Bowl (and having a lot of alone time with defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers) this is another player the Dolphins should have a grasp of. I have him in the 5th-6th range and could be a decent value there.

Al Woods of LSU also showed explosiveness - displaying a 37-inch vertical leap. At one time he was a highly rated prospect and has all the physical tools to be a successful NT. But he is another guy who 
doesn't always put forth 100 percent effort. I also have him in the 5th-6th round.

Linval Joseph and Torell Troup also impressed. with Joseph putting up 39 reps and Troup putting up 31. Each player has very good athleticism for their size, as evidenced by their quick feet in drills. Each 
player should go in the 4th by my estimation. But I wouldn't be surprised if they went earlier due to the position they play. I am a fan of both players and think they could be successful in the league.

Come back later this afternoon for a Combine wrap plus other news, notes, analysis, and whatever else got this blog in the Top 100 nationwide.

March 01, 2010

Linebackers done working at Indy Combine

The penultimate day of the Indiana Combine is in the books. The linebackers and defensive linemen worked out on the field today.

Aspiring scout Chris Cordero, still in Indy, filed these thoughts on what he saw:

UF's Brandon Spikes: Continues to look unathletic and heavy footed in the drills. Looked slow and not agile in footwork drills. Him choosing not to run in the 40 and doing this drill probably makes me wonder if he could have broken a 4.9.

Mizzou's Sean Weatherspoon: Came in at 6-1 and 239 pounds. Ran the 40 in a white unitard. Loved the outfit. Guy is a playmaker and is very strong as evidenced by his 34 reps on the bench press. Just ran a 4.57. A mid- to late 1st rounder. I think he would fit just fine in the middle of the 3-4 and is great in coverage to boot. Also very outgoing, proper, and loquacious. Teammates rally around him. Continues to impress with athleticism in footwork drills.

Iowa's A.J. Edds: Big backer who was fairly impressive at the Senior Bowl. Very good in coverage and ran a 4.67. Could be a nice pick in the 5th-6th, although he could slip into the 4th. Continues to look impressive in pass coverage drills. Good footwork and agility in and out of his breaks

South Carolina's Eric Norwood: Had a decent unofficial 4.67 time - I feel he is a little too much of a one-trick pony (rushing the passer) and Dolphins have that already in Cameron Wake. I wouldn't take him before the 4th but some team will probably bite in the 3rd.

Penn State's Sean Lee: ILB prospect with injury concerns ran a decent 40 at 4.72; but looked unathletic in the drills. Mayock said he sees him maybe in the late 1st early 2nd. I wouldn't take him before the 3rd. Improved footwork in the later coverage drills. Much smoother.

Kentucky's Micah Johnson: Ran an unofficial 4.99 - confirming that he would strictly be a two-down run stuffer. That would pretty much duplicate what the Dolphins have in Crowder. But, he is built like an Adonis and hits like a train.

Mississippi State's Jamar Chaney: Ran a very good 4.51. He was expected to test very well and after having him in the Senior Bowl I am sure the Dolphins are very familiar with him. With the lack of depth at the position - I think he goes in the 4th but would be excellent value in the 5th.

Alabama's Rolando McClain: He did nothing. His agent texted the NFL Network to explain McClain is dealing with a hamstring issue and will do all his work at his Pro Day. To me, McClain came off as not wanting to really be at the Combine. Sure, he said he just wants to play football - but who here doesn't? Some might call it confident. I thought he was very "Sabanish." It might not be a bad thing if the guy turns out to be an All-Pro. I still get the feeling a lot of what he did had to do with Saban's scheme. That being said I think he will be a good player and if the Dolphins don't sign Karlos Dansby he probably will be the pick. For him being so big he wasn't very strong in the bench and I'm not convinced he'll run a 4.5 like he says he eventually will.

South Florida's Jason Pierre-Paul: Ran a very good unoffical 4.64. People have him going as high as No. 3. I don't know if someone with only one year of Divison 1 football is worth that high a pick. He is a heck of an athlete though.  Want to see him in the LB drills. Also looked pretty comfortable dropping back in the LB drill - guy is an all-around athlete.

Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan: Showed pretty good footwork and quicks in the linebacker drill so maybe he can make the transition to OLB. I think he goes Top 10 but could be there at #12.

Michigan's Brandon Graham: Didn't do any position drills because he tweaked a hamstring during the 40-yard dahs. He ran a 4.69 unofficial at 260 pounds. He did 31 reps on the bench press so he didn't go anywhere near the 40 he said he would do, but it's still pretty good.

Texas's Sergio Kindle: Measured in at 6-2 7/8 and 250 so he's much shorter than the 6-5 he was listed 
at. Had only spoken to Browns but has 20 interviews set up......Would prefer to play OLB in a 3-4. Learned much from rookie of the year Brian Orakpo. Credits former Dolphins assistant Will Muschamp for much 
of his development. Says he will run a good enough 40 to open coaches eyes. I'm not sold on him being the pick at #12 but let's see how he works out.
Wasn't overly impressive in the LB drills; footwork was a little sloppy and stumbled a bit. Did show good straight line speed with an unofficial 4.65. Mayock continues to gush about him and some NFL buddies of mine think he is the best 3-4 OLB prospect in the draft as well.

TCU's Jerry Hughes: Rush LB from TCU came in at 6-1 3/4 and 255 pounds. Not prototype OLB size for Miami style 3-4. With an unofficial time of 4.59 and some nice quickness in the swim and rip move, decent explosiveness in the stack and shed, Hughes appears to have helped himself here. I have him in the 2nd round and maybe sliding to #43. He appears to have the tools to play OLB in the 3-4.Continues to look natural in the LB drills - good hands and quick feet in coverage drill. Looks very comfortable (being a former RB he is very athletic).

Utah's Koa Misi: Impressed in the Senior Bowl where he began making the transition to LB. Showed good feet and ran a 4.69 in the 40. Looked fairly natural and fluid in the LB drills. I give him a 4th round grade with a chance to go in the 3rd.

Ohio State's Thaddeus Gibson: Underclassman showed decent speed with an unofficial 4.71 and also showing quick feet in the drills. Another guy whom I feel can play the outside in a 3-4. Would present excellent value in the 3rd round - but could get picked up in the 2nd.