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76 posts from April 2010

April 17, 2010

Ted Ginn perhaps not so classy after all

Well, that didn't take long. Approximately two hours after I wrote a post that said Ted Ginn Jr. went out with class upon being traded from the Dolphins to 49'ers, Ginn did something he did quite often with the Dolphins.

He dropped the ball.

Responding to a follower on his twitter feed who told Ginn he was happy "you are gone!" the receiver responded with an expletive-laced response that would make anyone pause. He used the F-word. He used the N-word. He used the B-word that rhymes with ditch.

My man Mike Marchant, a producer and board op at 790 The Ticket, retweeted to me the Ginn tweet. I will not quote it here. But if you wish to see it (why would you?) you can check out Marchant's twitter page and see it for yourself.

Look, Ginn has the been the target of a lot of derision. He's been the object of many jokes and much criticism. Guess what? It comes with the territory.

It wasn't the man's fault he was picked No. 9 overall in 2007. But I don't remember him giving back any of $19.6 million that draft status brought to him. And it was his fault he failed to become anything more than a kick returner in three years with the Dolphins.

So the criticism was warranted.

Does that mean hatred was warranted? No. But criticism? Yes.

There is a difference.

Ginn was unprofessional in the manner he responded to a former fan in this one instance. He is human. And he is young -- only 25 years old. But he is a public personality. And he should have known better.

Too bad.

April 16, 2010

Ginn: 'Still have hopes of being an elite receiver'

Ted Ginn may not have been a great receiver for the Dolphins. But he was a great person.

The kid was classy in victory and defeat, in good times and bad. And that continues. He just spoke on a conference call and rather than taking any shots at the Dolphins or the fans that gave him a tough time, he stayed classy.

"I wouldn't say it's a sense of relief but it's always good to have a new start," Ginn said of his departure from Miami. "Going out to the 49'ers is going to give me a brand new start. Leaving Miami, you know, I hold no grudges. I don't have no bad feelings about them or anything. It's just my time was up there and now it was time to move on."

Ginn goes to San Francisco for a fifth round pick -- No. 145 in the coming draft. He goes to San Francisco ostensibly to resolve the 49'ers return problems on special teams. But Ginn is not selling himself short.

"I still have hopes of being an elite receiver," he said. "I don't think that I sell off at all. I just believe that special teams is one of the assets I have in my game. I'm just going to come in and do both."

The Dolphins obviously didn't think Ginn will become elite. That and the acquisition of Brandon Marshall made Ginn expendable. But Ginn doesn't accept the Marshall trade ushered him out of town.

"I didn't really know that," Ginn said. "I can't say, "Yeah, when we picked up Brandon Marshall I knew I was gone.' When we got the trade, I was happy. It was another guy coming to the Miami Dolphins. But in the same sense, you know the game, you know the business.  You're up for anything."

Ginn said he spoke to San Francisco coach Mike Singletary for the first time today.

"He didn't really tell me how he envisions using me," Ginn said. "He said it was a great situation for me and him. Just get down there and let's get with it."

Ginn was asked if he was surprised the Dolphins gave up on him after three years in the league.

"It's a game, it's a business," Ginn said. "They just wanted a new start. But like I said, it's no bad blood. It's the best decision for both of us and we moved on."

Ted Ginn Jr. traded to San Francisco

Ted Ginn has told friends and teammates he has been traded to the San Francisco 49ers. The Dolphins are not commenting publicly but I got a text from a team source confirming the trade is done for a 2010 draft pick.

That pick will be a Saturday pick, I am told. That means a late-rounder guys.

[Update: It's a fifth-round pick, No. 145 overall. The Dolphins lacked a fifth-rounder prior to this.]

[Update: The Dolphins now have confirmed the trade is complete although they are declining to confirm the compensation. The 49'ers are also confirming the trade and have confirmed the compensation as their fifth-round pick. Dolphins seem petty to me when they refuse to disclose compensation everyone else discloses.]

Ginn was flying to San Francisco as early as today and take a physical. If he passes, the trade will be official. His primary role in San Francisco will be primarily as a return specialist.

Ginn's fate was sealed by the recent acquisition of Brandon Marshall, but the truth is Ginn has been on the trade block for several weeks.

The former first-round pick in 2007 -- No. 9 overall -- regressed significantly in 2009. He dropped more passes than just about anyone in the NFL. His production also dropped from 56 catches in 2008 to 38 in 2009.

Fellow receiver Brian Hartline told The Herald's David J. Neal that he has a sense the trade was in the works. Ginn and Hartline share the same agent.

"I'm not totally surprised, but I think it's best for Teddy and the organization to do what they're doing," Brian Hartline said moments ago. "You go get a guy with the No. 9 overall pick you expect him to have an immediate impact. I don't think he was ready to make an immediate impact for the Dolphins. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve to be a No. 9 overall pick because we know what kind of playmaker he can be. But he was put in a difficult situation."

This trade comments on what Bill Parcells ultimately thought of Miami's 2007 draft -- the one just prior to his arrival.

The Dolphins have cut or traded every player in that draft except for punter Brandon Fields (7th round) and nose tackle Paul Soliai (4th round).

Eagles want to trade up? Bring it!

There are various reports on the web now that the Philadelphia Eagles would like to make a hop, skip and a jump from the No. 24 overall selection in the first round to a higher plateau from which they can draft either Eric Berry or Earl Thomas -- considered the two best safeties in the draft.

The Dolphins, at No. 12 overall, seem to be in a solid position to pick Thomas if they want. They also seem to be in a solid spot to trade down from that pick if they want. And I am told by one team source (not one of the Trio) that there has been significant talk around the Dolphins facility about trading down.

The source also tells me much of that talk got louder in the last week when the idea of giving up a second-round pick for Brandon Marshall turned from possibility to reality. The Dolphins want to somehow get back that second round pick.

Again, the Eagles make sense. They have two second-rounders -- No. 37 overall and No. 55 overall. The Eagles would have to give up their own first-rounder plus one of the second-rounders, likely the lower pick.

The Dolphins would thus still have a first-rounder -- Philadelphia's No. 24 overall -- and make up for the second-rounder they currently lack.

Bill Parcells and Andy Reid have worked together in the past. The Dolphins sent running back Lorenzo Booker to the Eagles in 2008 for a fourth-round pick.

Breakfast appetizers and main course

Some appetizers before we get to the main course:

You guys seem to be fascinated by the topic what jersey number Brandon Marshall is going to wear. I pity you. But because I work for you, I'll play along.

Marshall has worn No. 15 for Denver the past four years. Davone Bess has worn No. 15 for the Dolphins since 2008. And Bess's agent wrote David J. Neal of the Miami Herald that the digit is not for sale.

"No sale!'' agent Kenny Zuckerman wrote in an e-mail when asked if Bess would do it for any cost, including charity. "He loves that number and wants to keep it. Seriously, it's not about money. He sincerely won't sell it."

Marshall, playing nice his first day on the job, didn't have a problem with that on Thursday.

"I haven’t thought about that yet," Marshall said during his press conference. "[Number] 15 is the number I’ve had the past four years, but that’s his number. I’m coming into his locker room.The only number I’m worried about is the number of wins we get next year. I'll be happy with number 87 or whatever other number. I’m not sure what number is open."

Digitgate continues.

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Many of you have also e-mailed me asking that I give you my thoughts on the viral video of Dallas owner Jerry Jones, in which he is in a bar and is drinking and talks about Dolphins football czar Bill Parcells.

Well, I work for you. But I have to live with myself. And that's nobody's business, in my opinion.

I have great respect for Jones. I have great respect for Parcells. And I have great respect for myself. So I'm not going there. I'm sure the two men will talk and figure it out. And since it does not affect the Dolphins or the Cowboys on the field or in any other way that I can figure, I'm moving on.

This isn't tmz.com you guys just clicked on. Sorry.

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The Dolphins have three restricted free agents -- Anthony Fasano, Ronnie Brown and Quentin Moses. All three apparently signed an injury waiver to allow them to participate in the Miami offseason conditioning program.

None have signed their respective RFA tenders.

In fact, as of Thursday -- which was the dealine for restricted free agents to sign with other teams -- 125 players on 29 teams had signed the tender offers from their original teams.

The Dolphins were one of three teams -- along with Jacksonville, and New England -- where none of the RFAs had signed.

I'm not saying there is some dark reason for this. I'm just saying that is the fact.

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Alrightie, three appetizers are plenty for you. The main course:

Aspiring scout Chris Cordero has been studying the Dolphins and the draft because, well, he's strange that way. He's put together a mock of Miami's picks. It is not a mock of one round, but rather the picks he thinks Miami might make throughout the draft.

Crazy.

Take it away man with too much time on your hands:

I am not taking into account any possible trades, as I believe any players not named Chad Henne, Brandon Marshall, Jake Long, Karlos Dansby, and Vontae Davis could be traded. This team could trade down/up in any round and other teams could do the same. So here goes - my best guess at the Dolphins 9 picks in the 2010 Draft with small captions. The picks are based on the grades that I gave the players and what I think the teams picking before and after the Dolphins will do.

First round: No. 12 - Earl Thomas - FS - Texas: I believe Derrick Morgan will be drafted by the Jaguars. I also believe nose tackle Dan Williams does not present good value at this pick. Thomas is one of the best players in this draft, with the skills of a cornerback and the best ball skills of any defensive back in this draft. I worry some about his size and durability - and his tackling skills are not the greatest. But besides that - he is above average in every aspect for a DB. With the league now shifting towards the pass (and the Dolphins picking up Brandon Marshall) having Thomas to go along with Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, and Pro Bowler Yeremiah Bell, not to mention the return to health of Will Allen - the Dolphins will be in great position to combat Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, and Lee Evans in the division.

OTHER OPTIONS: Derrick Morgan, Dan Williams, Sergio Kindle, Jason Pierre-Paul.

Third Round: No. 73 - Ricky Sapp - OLB - Clemson: The team could go for a NT here, as some of the good ones like Cam Thomas, Torrell Troup, or maybe even Linval Joseph could be available. But instead go for the 6-4, 252lb OLB who fits all the size requirements, and has great speed and athleticism off the edge. Sapp, who suffered a torn ACL in early 2008, had a moderately successful season last year and has some experience playing as a LB at Clemson. With a 1.60 10 yard split on his 40 - he has great short area burst and quickness. One year removed from the injury, he should be that much better. I feel if he is available here, he is a steal and would be an immediate starter for the team.

OTHER OPTIONS: Cam Thomas, Torrell Troup, Thaddeus Gibson, Jason Worilds, Koa Misi.

Fourth Round: No. 110 - Daniel Te'o-Nesheim - OLB - Washington: -I was torn between Te'o-Nesheim and Lindsey Witten, another potential OLB from UConn. I ultimately went with Te'o-Nesheim due to his motor and attention to technique. During his workouts, he showed that he was a better athlete than I had given him credit for. With 30 sacks for his career, he has the production to back up the work he did at the Combine and at his Pro Day. At 6-4, 263, he also has the requisite size and showed off a 1.61 10 yard split and 37 inch vertical leap. There would be good competition between him, Sapp, Wake, and Charlie Anderson and Jason Taylor if he is brought back. (Salguero comment here: You kidding? Taylor would school them all!)

OTHER OPTIONS: Lindsey Witten, Donald Butler, Cameron Sheffield, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Anthony McCoy.

Round Six (Salguero getting bored, but whatever): No. 173 Kade Weston - NT - Georgia: This is about the time where the regime starts finding the nose tackles. Weston was a big time combine snub in my eyes and is a huge human being who can occupy blockers with the best of them. In a defensive line that featured Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens - he did not get enough credit for his accomplishments, At 6-5, 325 - there is no doubt in my mind he can help hold down the fort with Paul Soliai until Jason Ferguson returns and then learns from his fellow former Bulldog.

OTHER OPTIONS: Fendi Onobun, Colin Peek, Marshall Newhouse, Dekoda Watson, Robert Johnson.

Round Six: No. 174 Marshall Newhouse - OG - TCU: One of the more athletic interior offensive lineman - running a 4.99 40 yard dash at 6-4, 319lbs. He was among the more impressive OL I saw at the Combine and was also a standout at the East-West Shrine game. As a former left lackle, he has good feet and also extends his arms with strong hands to get movement in the running game. Could be a steal at this point in the draft.

OTHER OPTIONS: Fendi Onobun, Colin Peek, Dekoda Watson, Robert Johnson, AJ Edds.

Round Six Still: No. 179 A.J. Edds - ILB - Iowa: Another play who if available at this point would be an excellent pickup. He is a 3-down player who excels in coverage and was very impressive to me during Senior Bowl week. At 6-4, 246lbs, he has good size and shows off excellent athleticism with a 4.62 40-yard dash. I worry about his take-on ability versus the run - but he would be excellent as a nickel backer and a great value at this point.

OTHER OPTIONS: Fendi Onobun, Colin Peek, Dekoda Watson, Robert Johnson, Micah Johnson.

Round Seven: No. 212 Jay Ross - NT - East Carolina: Playing next to Linval Joseph, maybe he did not get enough credit but is a very good player in his own right. At 6-3, 313 with a 4.99 40 yard dash he fits the shorter squat mold that the regime appears to prefer (although I think Weston was too big and talented to pass up in the 6th) and is able to generate pressure while maintaining his gap responsibilities. He was even athletic enough to come up with an interception his senior year.

OTHER OPTIONS: Aleric Mullins, Chris McCoy, Danny Batten, Brody Eldridge, Antonio Coleman.

Round Seven: No. 219 Brody Eldridge - TE - Oklahoma: The former offensive tackle, who showed surprising mid 4.7 speed at this Pro Day is regarded as either the best or 2nd best blocking tight end in the draft. While the preference would be an athletic, stretch-the-field TE, the best ones are off the board at this point. He has soft hands though, but did not get many opportunities to catch the ball with all the talent at Oklahoma.

OTHER OPTIONS: Aleric Mullins, Chris McCoy, Danny Batten, Antonio Coleman, Aaron Morgan.

Round Seven: No. 252 Joey Elliott - QB - Purdue: I know, the team has 4 QBs on the roster, but the Dolphins have showed this guy a lot of love (how much of it was due to his working out during the offseason with Dez Bryant, I don't know) and I expect at least one, if not 2, QBs to be traded during the draft. He had a very good senior season and was a big part in the Boilermakers win over Ohio State. Besides elite arm strength, he appears to have all the tools to be a successful backup in the league and was very acccurate in his one season as a starter. Expect this guy in camp - be it if the team drafts him or signs him as an UDFA (unless another team picks him up before the Dolphins).

OTHER OPTIONS: Danny Batten, Antonio Coleman, Chris McCoy, Aaron Morgan, Aleric Mullins.

If you are wondering why the players in the 7th and 6th rounds did not change in the "Other Options" category - it is because those are the players and the positions that would be the best fits for the team.

April 15, 2010

Brandon Marshall press conference at 3:30

Fist of all I want to thank everyone for continuing to come here every day, and obviously, several times a day. Yesterday was huge. This blog had a record-setting number of page views. It was about 50,000 more than the next closest blog at The Miami Herald and 65,000 more than the next closest sports blog. You guys have made this blog the giant gorilla at The Miami Herald. You might say this blog is the Beast. Thank you!

I am getting ready to head over to a local Renaissance Hotel for what has been termed as an informal media gathering with Brandon Marshall.

I reported about this on my twitter feed this morning.

I share this with you because it's strange. The Dolphins do not make players available for press conferences during the offseason. That is team policy. Bill Parcells believes you do not show favoritism to a new player. The attitude is he's just part of the group now.

That's the way it was when Karlos Dansby signed his mega-contract in March.

But it is obviously different with Marshall. The Dolphins are not having this press gathering but are aware of it and are not going to stop it. I'm told Marshall had plans to do interviews with national media, so the Dolphins suggested he also include the local folks.

It's interesting because Miami is clearly making an exception even though the policy is to make no exceptions for anyone. I'm wondering if that will send a message to a guy like Dansby or other players? I'm wondering why different rules for different players?

On the positive side, I'm told Marshall has hit the ground running. This morning he was at Dolphins camp bright and early, taking part in the offseason conditioning program. That is a welcome sign, indeed.

I will get back on here after the press conference to tell you what happened. I will also tweet some highlights so follow me, if you don't already.

And feel free to leave questions for Marshall in the comments section. If I run out of my own questions (I never do) I'll use some of yours.

{Update: Below are some Brandon Marshall quotes from the press conference:

Marshall on (Darrelle) Revis Island: "I"m not sure where that is. Revis is a friend of mine. Where is Revis Island? Hopefully I visit there soon."

Marshall on his new number: "I'm just worried about the number of wins. I'll be happy with 87 or whatever other number."

Marshall on his personality: "This may shock you guys but I'm no primma donna. ... I do have personality. We're going to have fun down here."

Marshall on 2010 production: "I plan on this year being the best year I've had so far."

Mashall said he doesn't really care about what number he's going to wear. He said he understand Davone Bess already has No. 15 and "I'm coming into his locker room."

"I'm just worried about the number of wins," he said. "I'll be happy with  No. 87 or whatever other number."

Ronnie Brown: Marshall will be good fit

The previous post discussed the idea of finding a niche for recently acquired receiver Brandon Marshall and I made the point the Dolphins must Feed The Stud with Marshall. Well, previous offensive stud Ronnie Brown will have a say in that.

But he won't have a problem.

Appearing on Sirius XM radio with Rich Gannon and Adam Schein, Brown said he likes the idea of adding Marshall.

"I think it’s a good opportunity because I think here we have a pretty good running game and I think we have a lot of possibilities and a lot of guys that can make plays on the offensive side of the ball if we can get them in the right situation," Brown said. "So I think he’s going to be an added help that’s going to be able to open up not only opportunities for myself but some of the other receivers and the tight ends and we’re able to mix it up and keep defenses off-balance now whereas we’d come in the game our opportunity was to try to run the ball as much as possible and to try to do some different things. And we have some guys that are capable of making plays so I think this is going to open up our whole offense now.

"I think our offensive coordinator, coach Henning, he does a great job of putting guys in situations to make plays and now that we have another weapon it’s going to open up things for everybody."

Brown thinks Marshall will fit with the offense, but also will fit in the locker room.

"I don’t really see any concerns," Brown said. "I think a lot of times the best thing for certain guys is a change of scenery. And I think Brandon being a little closer to home, I think he’s an Orlando guy, he’s familiar with the area and all of that so I think it’s good. And then also I think we’ve got some core guys that have been around and I think it’s going to be a good situation where we have a great coaching staff and they’ve been around for a while so I think it’s just going to be a good opportunity for everybody and I think everything is going to work out."

Feed the stud, but which one more?

Offensive coordinator Dan Henning last season talked colorfully about FTS to a roomful of reporters and everyone, me included, had this blank look on their faces because, frankly, we didn't know if he was talking about some obscure formation or a new political party.

Then he explained FTS is Feed ... The ... Stud.

It is what a fine offensive coordinator like Henning tries to do. He tries to get the football in the hands of his best player or players as often as possible, repetition be damned.

When Henning was in Washington, the stud was John Riggins, when he was in Carolina the stud was running back Stephen Davis first, then it was receiver Steve Smith, then it receiver Mushin Muhammad or some combination thereof. When he was head coach in San Diego, Henning didn't have a stud so he got fired. (Not your fault, Dan.)

The question is who becomes the stud requiring feeding for the 2010 Miami Dolphins?

Suggestion: Brandon Marshall.

It seems logical that the NFL's newly minted highest paid wide receiver will be the focal point of the Dolphins offense. The dude has caught over 100 passes the last three seasons and, sounding good to me, let's hope he does it again in 2010.

But are the Dolphins willing to shift gears from an offense that is run-first to one that throws to Marshall first? How far is Henning going to be able to take FTS?

You might be surprised.

Last season the Dolphins snapped 1,088 offensive plays from scrimmage. They ran the ball 509 times. They passed 545 times. Yes, smart-alecks, I know that doesn't equal 1,088. Add the 34 sacks Miami gave up and you have 1,088 snaps. Sheesh

Anyway, this suggests the Dolphins were not exactly the run-run-run team everyone thinks. But I'm certain the fact they were behind in a good number of games and had to pass has something to do with this statistic. Despite the statistic, everyone knows Miami's studs on offense have been Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and so it has come as no surprise, they have gotten the ball more than anyone else on offense.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins passing game hasn't had a great, consistent performer and so the passes have been spread around to a host of players. That has been spun as a good thing. No. The good thing is to have two or three great players who get the ball every week.

When you hear, "We're doing what the defense gives us," that is not signaling strength. That is weakness. Good offensive teams like Arizona, Minnesota, Indianapolis and others dictate to the defense rather than allow the defense to dictate.

Those teams get the ball to their Larry Fitzgeralds or Reggie Waynes or Adrian Petersons or whomever is their stud.

I assume the Dolphins will now be more able to dictate to the defense and successfully get the ball to Marshall 100-110 times for the season. Sure, the guy will have tough days. Everyone has tough days. I feel one coming on soon myself.

But if the idea is to FTS, then Marshall has to be at the forefront of the Miami gameplan, no?

How does that affect Brown and Williams? I imagine Miami will still be a run-oriented team in games they control and so the pair of running backs will also star in the game plan. But it makes sense that they are not taxed to the levels they have been the last two years. It definitely makes sense they don't figure as much in the passing game as checkdowns when the passes should be going downfield to Marshall.

It makes sense that if the Dolphins have added a stud wide receiver, well then, he should be fed.

April 14, 2010

Marshall in town, says physical went 'great'

Brandon Marshall is in South Florida and going about the business of becoming a Miami Dolphin wide receiver.

And the Herald's Jeff Darlington is going about the business of, you know, working some journalism. So he caught up with Marshall moments ago as he was leaving the doctor's office where Marshall took his physical.

"It went great," Marshall told Darlington through a big smile.

Marshall should be happy. He's from Orlando and he's now rich, having agreed to a 5-year, $50 million contract.

"I'm thrilled. This is home for me," Marshall said. "I'm right up the road from Orlando. I'm a Florida boy. We're finishing the process now. Hopefully it all goes as planned."

With that, Marshall got in the SUV that is transporting him around town. He was headed for the Dolphins facility to sign his new contract.

The fallout from the Marshall trade (incl. contract)

First, I want to congratulate the Miami Dolphins for doing the dynamic thing, the difficult thing, the courageous thing in acquiring Brandon Marshall today. Only time will tell if it is the right thing but we'll get to that in a bit.

Marshall is scheduled to arrive in Fort Lauderdale this afternoon. The Dolphins finally announced the trade was made at approximately 11:22 a.m. They are saying the trade is for undisclosed draft picks. Those picks are a second-rounder this year and a second next year.

[Update: The Denver Broncos also confirmed the trade and confirmed the parameters. It is indeed for two second round picks, one in 2010 and one in 2011.]

"I'd like to welcome my new teammate to Miami," receiver Brian Hartline said on his twitter earlier.

This is on, its face, a big-time get for the Dolphins. Frankly, there is no second-round pick this year that would have brought the instant productivity that Marshall is going to bring. Did the Dolphins pay a steep price? Sure.

But Ferraris are expensive, folks.

You will learn just how expensive when Marshall agrees to the details of an already set five-year contract worth $50 million. Details of that deal are not yet available but I'm told they've been agreed to.

The basis for the contract talks that happened the last two days between Marshall's agent and the Dolphins was simple: Marshall wants to be the highest paid WR in the NFL. This contract probably accomplishes that.

[Update: Adam Shefter of ESPN.com reports the deal is a four-year extension added to the one-year restricted free agent tender Marshall signed Tuesday and includes $24 million in guaranteed money. The deal is indeed for five years and $50 million.]

Marshall is not a speed receiver and has averaged only 12.1 yards per catch over his career. But he is dependable, he forces defenses to account for him, and he is a huge target for young quarterback Chad Henne. He is a red zone nightmare to match up with. He opens things up for other receivers on the field.

In short, Marshall on the field does everything the Dolphins offense has lacked in a wide receiver for many, many years.

Does Marshall make the Dolphins the favorite to win the AFC East? No.

Remember the team still has significant and worriesome holes to fill at outside linebacker, nose tackle, free safety and left guard. Also remember the Broncos never made the playoffs despite having Marshall on their team the past four years.

So don't buy your tickets to Dallas, site of the next Super Bowl, just yet.

But this does give the Dolphins a chance to be competitive in a division where the Jets will have Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards, and the Patriots offense comes with Randy Moss. Do the Dolphins now go into games versus the Jets believing at least one of their WRs can get open against Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie?

Absolutely!

This trade gives Fins Nation hope.

This trade will have a bigtime ripple effect on the Miami receiver corps -- you know, the one coach Tony Sparano said he was pleased with.

The Dolphins keep five wide receivers. And they now have 10 wide receivers on the roster. Somebody is going to go. Ted Ginn Jr. is on the trade block. He may have played his final game for the Dolphins. Second-year wideout Patrick Turner was billed as a Marshall clone at 6-5 and 220 pounds. But he has not produced and unless he has a very good training camp, he may never play a game for the Dolphins

Marshall is estatic with this trade, according to one former teammate. He wanted three things this offseason: He wanted to marry his fiancee, he wanted to sign a contract that paid him what he believed he's worth, and he wanted, if possible, to play closer to his home state of Florida.

Marshall was willing to live anywhere and play for anyone to accomplish the first two goals. He hit the jackpot in that the Dolphins wanted him and now he's coming back to Florida, a rich, married man.

This moves comes with responsibility. He must continue to produce at a high level. He's going to be paid like the best wide receiver in the NFL, the Dolphins expect him to play like it.

He also has to stay out of trouble. Marshall has a long record of arrests and run-ins with the law. There are multiple handfuls of domestic violence and other violence incidents and reports in which he was involved.

He has already been suspended by the NFL once for breaking the league's conduct policy. The next offense would bring him a four-game suspension or more.

In that regard, Marshall is a risk. He cannot be a great player if he's not on the field. He cannot be on the field if he's suspended or in some sort of trouble. So the risk exists.

But the rewards? The Dolphins are banking those will be fabulous.

[BLOG NOTE: I will be on here live starting at 1 p.m. for a live chat with you. Be here at 1 p.m. and we'll break this thing down.]

Dolphins set to acquire Brandon Marshall

The Dolphins are in the process this morning of acquiring wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

The Dolphins will trade their second-round pick (43rd overall) this season and another pick for the player who is among the NFL's best but most enigmatic wide receivers.

ESPN.com's Adam Shefter is reporting the Dolphins could also send a second-round pick to the Broncos next year but The Miami Herald has not confirmed that yet. [Update: The trade is indeed for two second-round picks, one in 2010 and one in 2011.]

The trade is not yet complete and not yet announced. But it is happening, folks. Marshall is set to fly to South Florida as early as today (Wednesday) to take a physical. The NFL has not yet approved this deal.

The trade is a jaw-dropper on many levels.

Marshall is not, shall we say, typical of Dolphins wide receivers under Bill Parcells. He is 6-4 and 230 pounds of physical playmaker. He is also a guy with a troubling history for domestic violence and being suspended by his own team.

And he is a great producer.

Marshall, 26 years old, has caught over 100 passes for over 1,000 yards each of the past three seasons.  

Last season, Marshall caught 21 passes in one game against the Indianapolis Colts. The entire Dolphins wide receiver corps -- all five guys -- did not have a 2009 game in which they combined for 21 catches.

Only last month Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Marshall was not a fit for the Dolphins and, well, everyone believed him. This offseason the Dolphins have acquired Marshall after Sparano said he wasn't a fit and cut Gibril Wilson after general manager Jeff Ireland suggested he would be playing well for the team in 2010.

The Dolphins have wanted to upgrade at wide receiver since last season and began focusing on Marshall at the beginning of this offseason. The club asked defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who was the Denver defensive coordinator last season, for his opinion on Marshall.

I am told it was an honest report that included facts of Marshall's warts. But Nolan also shared that Marshall is the best wide receiver talent his defense faced last year -- that in practice.

This actual deal has been in the works for only a matter of days. But the possibility of it leaked out Tuesday. As reported in the previous blog entry here, Marshall told at least one Denver Broncos teammates yesterday that he was headed to the Dolphins.

A side note to that report, the teammate told Marshall he wished he was coming to Miami, also.

Once this trade becomes official, the Dolphins and agent Kennard McGuire will finalize a new contract for Marshall. It will be an enormous deal.

I'm told the sides have already set parameters on a deal that will make Marshall the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. The highest paid WR in 2009 was Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, who earned $10,893,332.

Marshall's deal will average at least $10 million per season and also could include guaranteed monies exceeding $30 million.

"Brandon Marshall is a friend of mine," Buffalo safety Donte Whitner said on his twitter account moments ago. "About to sign one of the most lucrative deals for a WR in NFL history. Congrats, bro!'

On the field, this get is a slam dunk.

Off the field, there are questions.

Marshall obviously wore out his welcome in Denver despite his supreme gifts. He was suspended once by the NFL and once by the team. He has a history of domestic violence -- with at least seven known instances in which police have been called or women have alleged he was violent against them.

In the locker room, Marshall was often engaging with the media but displeased with his coaches or the organization. To be fair, there were times Marshall was a coach-favorite also, probably coming on the heels of great performances.

But Marshall was unhappy because he deemed himself to be under-appreciated by the Broncos. Under-appreciated is defined as under-paid. The Broncos were reluctant to invest big money over a long span on the player because of his enigmatic history.

It will be interesting to find out if Marshall's contract has a behavior clause that would force him to forfeit or give back any money if he is convicted of any crime or suspended by the NFL.

The Dolphins officially have zero comment on this matter. Unofficially I'm told there was a great amount of debate about Marshall and, initially, there was no clear consensus on the matter. Eventually, however, that consensus was obviously reached.

Once official, this deal will give quarterback Chad Henne his best opportunity to become an elite quarterback. The Dolphins recognize they have an elite left tackle and a very promising signal-caller, but their offense was not dangerous for lack of a downfield threat.

Marshall, who has 25 TDs in four seasons including catches of 68, 71 and 75 yards, is set to become that threat.

Interesting stuff on Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall

There are two players that tingle the toes (as Jim Mandich would say) of Dolphins fans as our team looks to checkmate all the moves the stinkin' New York Jets have been making and the evil New England Patriots are about to make with their 18 four picks in the draft's first two rounds. 

Dez Bryant.

Brandon Marshall.

I write about Bryant in today's Miami Herald and I share with you not only the sad circumstances of his upbringing but also what he's trying to do to overcome what he recognizes are maturity issues.

People close to Bryant tell me the wide receiver has hired a "life skills coach." Read the column to see what this person is charged with doing because it is interesting. Meanwhile, I asked if this so-called coach is traveling with Bryant as he takes his various visits to different teams around the league.

The question drew long pauses. "I don't want to confirm or deny that is happening," I was told.

Interesting. I make the case that Bryant having a "life skills coach" is a good thing. It shows he's being proactive in trying to address the issues some teams are worried about. But I've also heard some teams have been turned off when learning that this person is constantly around Bryant.

And yes, I've been told the "life skills coach" has been taking Bryant to some visits.

Regardless, I know the Dolphins have done extensive work on Bryant, trying to learn the truth about him and not just accept what is rumored. I think the truth about this kid paints a much more positive picture than the rumors.

As to Marshall, you know I hate rumor-mongering. I either tell you what other reputable sources are reporting or tell you what I have learned myself. When I don't know something I tell you.

I'm here to tell you that contrary to every instinct in my being and going against everything the Dolphins have said both privately and publicly, I keep hearing Marshall is indeed a possibility in Miami. (I cannot believe I just wrote that sentence.)

I got a call from an agent Tuesday night who wanted to know what I thought about Marshall coming to Miami.

"Isn't happening," I responded.

"What makes you so sure?" he asked.

"What do you know," I asked.

Well this agent represents a player on the Denver Broncos. And he tells me his client told him Marshall said the Dolphins are the other team -- along with Seattle -- interested in him. So the agent said Marshall was being traded to the Dolphins.

That is not exactly straight from the horse's mouth. That is not even from the horse's brother's girlfriend.

But this is a serious agent I've known for years and he doesn't call to waste his time or mine. I am therefore passing it along to you.

Is it 100 percent? I still have my doubts. I find it hard to believe the Dolphins would be willing to give up multiple high picks (perhaps a second and third rounder) for the right to Marshall, whom they would then have to turn around and pay between $8-10 million per year on average.

It is just not a Dolphins type move. This team is supposed to be trying to add draft picks, not lose picks. It would also go against what coach Tony Sparano said at the NFL annual meeting when he said the Dolphins were interested in neither Marshall nor Terrell Owens.

But I pass it along to you nonethless because it comes from a credible source. If nothing else, I've given my boy Joe Rose another entire show this morning -- just like I did Tuesday morning. You're welcome, Joe!

April 13, 2010

Add Ginn to Dolphins on trade block (with video)

Coach Tony Sparano has often said the Dolphins are happy with their wide receivers. Well, I guess one would have to define happiness if, as I suspect, the report Ted Ginn is on the trade block is correct.

NFL.com's Jason LaCanfora tweeted minutes ago that Ginn is being shopped by the Dolphins.

My question is who would buy and for how much?

Ginn is coming off a year in which he regressed in 2009. He caught 38 passes for 454 yards and one touchdown. He also dropped eight passes, which was among the NFL leaders in that category.

In 2008 Ginn caught 56 passes for 790 yards and two touchdowns. Not stellar, but there were still hopes Ginn could continue to improve. Those hopes took a significant hit last year.

At one point, Ginn lost his starting job before regaining it late in the season.

So where does this leave us?

One might assume the Baltimore Ravens might be interested as Cam Cameron is their offensive coordinator. Cameron was the one who drafted Ginn's family in 2007. General manager Randy Mueller drafted Ginn.

But let's face it, in a league where Brandon Marshall is available for less than a first-round pick and Anquan Boldin was traded for a third and fourth-round pick, Ginn's value cannot be very high.

The Dolphins might be lucky to get a low fourth rounder for Ted Ginn Jr. And that might be based on his promise as a good return man.

[Update: One NFL personnel man has returned an email on the topic and he confirms Ginn is on the market. He also said Ginn would have different value for different teams, with most showing no interest. He said someone might, might give up a fifth-round pick because Ginn's only 26 years old and has elite speed that is "tempting."]

In recent days it has come to light that Miami is willing to consider trading Ronnie Brown, Tyler Thigpen and now Ginn.

We'll see.

The Sparano-Taylor meeting off on wrong foot

Tony Sparano called Jason Taylor in recent days and with all the charm and charisma that convinces so many Dolphins to play hard 100 percent of the time, the coach told Taylor the two of them needed to meet this week.

Man to man. Coach to player.

Nobody needed to know about it, Sparano told Taylor.

And so Taylor didn't tell anyone about the meeting.

Taylor didn't tell his agent Gary Wichard. He didn't share it with any of his close confidants, either. So on Monday afternoon when ESPN senior insider Chris Mortensen reported on NFL Live that the meeting was coming this week, everyone connected with Taylor denied they knew about it because, well, they didn't.

But obviously someone inside the Dolphins organization told Mortensen. So the same organization that swore Taylor to secrecy leaked news of the meeting to the Worldwide Leader -- a figurative national bullhorn.

What is the deal with these Miami Dolphins? On the one hand, they're asking players to keep in-house matters in-house. On the other hand they're planting stories in the national media.

And what is the point? On the one hand, they seem to be reaching out to Taylor. But, in fact, by leaking the story, they have actually done damage to whatever they might be trying to accomplish. Taylor was disappointed with the team late Monday night when he learned news of the planned meeting leaked from the team after he was told to tell no one.

The Dolphins have been in lockdown mode on the Taylor issue for weeks. General Manager Jeff Ireland calls Wichard regularly every time facts about the Taylor-Dolphins negotiations -- or lack of negotiations -- get out in the media.

But Ireland is working for the very organization that slips ESPN interesting little notes -- like Ronnie Brown being on the trade block or Joey Porter not playing the rest of the season after his 2009 suspension. Granted, sometimes the information is flawed, but apparently the tuna can that is the Miami Dolphins isn't very well sealed.

The greater point is the Dolphins work in unorthodox ways. They have asked players to betray their agents -- as with the Ricky Williams contract extension that excluded agent Leigh Steinberg. And they betray their players -- as in leaking news of Taylor's private meeting with Sparano.

Weird.

The now well-chronicled meeting, by the way, is still scheduled for the next day or so. Taylor is scheduled to go out of town with his wife late in the week. (No, he isn't going to New York to sign a contract.) At least that wasn't the plan late Monday before Taylor found out the meeting was all over the Internet.

So where does this meeting go? What purpose does it serve?

It should probably start with Sparano apologizing to Taylor. The coach put his reputation on the line in asking Taylor to keep things private, but his team instead turned around and opened its information pipeline to ESPN. That cannot help the Dolphins' agenda unless the agenda is to simply make a public relations move -- one the Dolphins want publicized on national TV.

Maybe the meeting is meant to tell Taylor to go quietly into the night -- or in this case to simply take an offer from the New York Jets.

But if the point of the meeting is to be sincere and try to convince Taylor to be patient with the Dolphins, to wait until after the draft and hedge his bet Miami might want him back, this definitely is a strange way to go about that.

Strange and wrong.

April 12, 2010

Tony Sparano to meet with Jason Taylor?

The Jason Taylor saga is taking another turn this week as the Dolphins may be putting on a last-minute effort to keep the veteran outside linebacker.

NFL senior insider Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Taylor and Sparano are scheduled to meet in person this week.

"I've been told Coach Tony Sparano and Jason have a pretty good relationship and will meet sometime this week and then Jason will make a decision," Mortensen reported on NFL Live.

I have not been able to confirm this report yet but decided to share it with you for the sake of giving you the latest on the matter. Mortensen did not say who told him this meet was planned, but everyone knows Mortensen is tight with Bill Parcells.

I'll update as details become available.

[UPDATE 1: A source close to Taylor tells me news of this planned meeting is news to Taylor himself.]

[UPDATE 2: Mortensen texted me to remind me that he is close to "eight other members of the organization" and that I'm a dummy and he can squash like a bug at a whim.]

[UPDATE 3: Mort didn't really say I'm a dummy. But ... well, you guys read the blog. You listen to me on radio. The dummy part is assumed.]

Jets acquire Santonio Holmes: The fallout

This thing with the Jets adding players almost every week is starting to get a little irritating.

Rex Ryan's team is limited by the "Final Four Rule" that says they cannot add a free agent unless they lose a free agent and cannot pay that player more than the player they lost gets from his new team. And despite this limitation the Jets have added LaDanian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie and on Sunday night Santonio Holmes.

Cromartie and Holmes both came via trade, with Holmes being added for a modest fifth-round selection.

There is little doubt Holmes brings trouble with him. It is no secret league-wide that he will be suspended for four games in 2010 for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He also has some legal issues to clear up in connection with him allegedly throwing a glass at a women at an Orlando club.

But have you heard? He was also the Super Bowl MVP in 2008-09, and caught 79 passes for 1,248 yards with five TDs in 2009. When he's playing football, he's pretty darn good.

Obviously, the Dolphins must have been aware of Holmes being available and didn't pull the trigger. No, they don't have a fifth-round pick this year anyway, but they have three sixth-rounders and they have their fifth for next year. Obviously, it could be argued the Dolphins shy away from troubled players that are about to be suspended and this was no exception.

But the fact of the matter is Holmes will be suspended for four fewer games than the league suspension Miami's Jason Ferguson will serve for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy. And the Dolphins re-signed Ferguson this year, knowing he was going to serve the 8-game term.

So what gives with the double standard?

A fifth-round pick is nothing. Statistics prove players selected in that round rarely factor much in the NFL and rarely play more than three years. (Spare me the Zach Thomas reminders. That was almost a generation ago.)

Miami's fifth rounders the past decade were John Nalbone and Chris Clemons in 2009, none in 2008, none in 2007, Manny Wright (supplemental) in 2006, Anthony Alabi in 2005, Tony Bua in 2004, J.R. Tolver in 2003, Omar Lowe and Sam Simmons in 2002, Shawn Draper in 2001 and Arturo Freeman in 2000. In other words, Nalbone and Clemons have to be golden for Miami to show anything for a decade of fifth round picks.

So if the Jets lose on this gamble for Holmes, what have they really lost? A fifth-round selection that probably wasn't long for the league anyway? It's a good gamble for them. And for others, I suspect.

There are interesting side notes to this trade that affect Miami:

The Steelers are now in the market for a wide receiver and their need probably extends early in the draft. They have the 18th overall selection in round one, and that could mean one fewer WR will be available to Miami when the Dolphins pick in round two. The Steelers also have the 20th pick in round two (52nd overall), meaning one less WR might be available to Miami in the third round.

In other words, Pittsburgh now-obvious need for a wide receiver could decrease the Dolphins' choices by one player after Miami's first pick.

Another interesting side note to this is whether the news of the Jets acquiring a weapon that could help their playoff cause would sway Jason Taylor with his pending decision about going to the New Yorkers or not.

Finally, the hope here is that Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland wake from their wide receiver slumber and realize it is a passing league. They need to find a star wide receiver, maybe even two, in this draft. Dez Bryant, Golden Tate and Demaryious Thomas are good places to start.

I hope they've done their homework and are ready to go hard after a receiver.

Everyone else is.

[Update: Holmes is flying to New York for a physical today. Am I the only one that is rooting he fails the physical because they find drugs in his system?]

Is Ronnie Brown likely to get traded?

Adam Schefter, who covers the NFL nationally better than anyone, reminded everyone on this twitter posting Sunday that Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown has been available in trade for over a year and so the implication is don't be surprised if he is traded.

Frankly, I would be surprised if he's traded, but not for the reasons you think.

The truth is the trade availability with Brown has been an on-again, off-again thing dating back to 2008.

The Dolphins were willing to let Brown go for the right price prior to the 2008 regular-season when the player was recovering from reconstructive knee surgery. There simply wasn't much of a market for him. Even at the start of that season, Brown wasn't really Miami's best back which is one reason Ricky Williams started.

But then Brown improved and impressed. As he got healthy he became the biggest offensive playmaker on the team and so Miami suddenly wasn't very eager to get rid of him. He was, at that point, off the market.

The Dolphins took calls about Brown last offseason. But at that point, with Brown coming off a Pro Bowl season, the team wasn't going to give him away and no one wanted to pay a high price for Brown.

So RB continued to be a Dolphins RB.

But in 2009 Brown got hurt again -- this time suffering a Lisfranc injury in his right foot. The fact Brown continues to border on being injury-prone troubles the Dolphins. His DUI incident in March also is a concern despite the fact he's never had any other off-field issues.

The bottom line is Ronnie Brown is today available to any team willing to part with a high draft pick. The Dolphins would love for someone to offer a first-round pick for him. The fact the Dolphins have not to this moment given Brown a long-term deal should also give you a clue the team is treading very carefully on the Brown matter as a long-term answer.

But what is Brown's worth in trade? He's had a season-ending knee injury and a season-ending foot injury the past three years? What team is going to give up significant assets for a running back with that kind of history?

The Dolphins, meanwhile, aren't simply going to give Ronnie Brown away. Yes, he's probably available but Bill Parcells doesn't run a thrift shop. If someone wants a bargain, Miami isn't the place to get one.

The bottom line is Brown seems more valuable to the Dolphins than he is on the trade market. No one is likely to give up a first or even a second-round pick for Ronnie Brown. The Dolphins are not likely to think a third or fourth-round pick for Brown is good return.

So does he get traded? It's possible. But it's not probable.

Remember, it takes two teams to make a trade.

Oh, by the way, Brown has still not signed his restricted free agent tender. He cannot be traded until he does so. 

[BLOG NOTE: Speaking of trades, the Jets actually made one Sunday night for wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Come back here at 10:30 a.m. for a post on how that trade impacts the Dolphins. It will also give you a chance to weigh in on what you think of that trade relative to Miami's decision to stay clear.]

April 11, 2010

Sunday morning happenings in Dolphins country

A couple of interesting things this Sunday morning:

First off, Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post is saying that based on his conversations with other teams, it seems to him the Dolphins are looking to trade down from No. 12 in the first round. Perhaps the trade down I proposed last week isn't so crazy after all.

Bottom line here? Teams call other teams before the draft and talk about trading up and down all the time. Doesn't mean they're going to do it. Doesn't mean it is what they want to do. They are testing the waters so when they dive in on draft day, it isn't a shock to the system.

Having said that, every player the Dolphins seemingly have locked into -- Dez Bryant, Earl Thomas, Dan Williams -- seem to be rated slightly lower than at No. 12 by all the so-called experts. Maybe the Dolphins can gain a pick by moving down and still land their guy.

Next, Jason Taylor continues to be an issue because, well, because I choose to make it so.

In my column in today's Herald, I make the point that Taylor should just go ahead and call the Dolphins' bluff and go to the Jets.

If you are now aghast at the thought, get over it.

Man's got a right to work and the Jets are offering a job.

If you would consider J.T. some sort of turncoat if he goes to the Jets, let me pose a hypothetical question to you.

As much as you hate the New York Jets, what would you do if you were unemployed and Rex Ryan called you tomorrow and said, "The New York Jets will pay you $1.5 million to come work for them this year and $1.95 million for next year." You know that you'd hold your nose and take the job. If you say you would not, you're probably lying.

The amount of the deal isn't actually that important. A job is a job and you take it.

It's a business decision and you'd make it.

Jason Taylor is also entitled to make a business decision -- even one he doesn't necessarily want to make.

And if the Dolphins don't like the idea of that decision, they should step in and stop it. They have not done that so far.

April 10, 2010

Deadline approaching for Miami RFAs

On the day after the 2009 season ended, I spent a few minutes chatting with Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano about the coming offseason. At the time, Fasano was still optimistic the NFL and the NFL Players Association would resolve their labor differences and somehow avoid an uncapped year.

"I''m still optimistic," Fasano said at the time, a big grin on his face. "I have no choice."

He had no choice because Fasano recognized an uncapped year would thrust him into a contract limbo of sorts. As a veteran with four accrued seasons, Fasano would have ordinarily been eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason.

But the uncapped year raised the requirements necessary to become a free agent to six seasons. So Fasano is a restricted free agent.

That means no movement for him or Miami's other two restricted free agents -- Ronnie Brown and Quentin Moses.

That will become official Thursday (April 15) when the the deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets with new teams passes. I can almost guarantee you Miami's restricted free agents will not sign with other teams.

We are only a couple of weeks from the April 22 draft and at this stage, most teams are hording draft picks rather than planning to give them up. So it is very unlikely anyone will give up a first-round pick for Brown, or a second-round pick for Fasano or a third-round selection for Moses -- the respective compensation levels the Dolphins placed on each player.

Thursday will likely come and all three players will be tied to the Dolphins despite not having contracts. None of the three has signed their restricted free agent tenders yet, either. That could change soon as it makes sense for the players to lock something up. A total of 73 restricted free agents have already signed their tenders around the league.

The tender for Brown pays $3,969,239, which is 110 percent of his 2009 base salary. The tender for Fasano pays $1,759,000. The tender for Moses pays $1,101,000.

Of course, all can still sign long-term deals but I don't think that's prudent for the Dolphins to offer right now. Brown is coming off another significant injury so why would Miami commit to him long-term without seeing how he's recovered. Moses isn't assured of making the team, and Fasano followed one good season with an off year in 2009. So it seems wise to hold off on making a long-term commitment to any of these guys, particularly with the labor rules being so murky beyond this year.

One more thing: Many of you have run to and fro on this blog with trade rumors, particularly for Brown. A player cannot be traded unless he has signed his tender.

April 09, 2010

Randy Starks in the clear from 2009 arrest

As the media is always quick to publish loud headlines when athletes get into trouble, I am today trying to give balance to that fact and tell you when the trouble is resolved at a volume that doesn't blare quite so much.

Remember the Randy Starks arrest last May on Miami Beach for aggravated battery on a police officer?

Today it was resolved in Miami-Dade traffic court as nothing more than a moving violation.

Starks pleaded nolo contendere (no contest) to failing to use due care and was found guilty. His sentence? A $219 fine which is due by June 8th (I get the feeling a player who signed a $25 million contract will be able to come up with the money by then) and Starks must also complete an 8-hour traffic school course within 120 days.

The whole issue with Starks allegedly resisting arrest and using his truck as a weapon on a police officer? Those charges were dropped last July. So not proven, not an issue.

Go on your way Randy Starks. You have been completely cleared.