The Dolphins will address their need to add a quarterback to the roster once the league year begins and free agency and trades are allowed. That isn't speculation.
The Dolphins will do this because they could not find a quarterback in the draft they were willing to take when they were on the clock.
“Well I think we’ll have to look in free agency if we’re going to do that," general manager Jeff Ireland said. "Certainly we’ll look at all the quarterbacks in depth and (you know) the board didn’t fall right for us to pick up a quarterback. I didn’t feel like we were desperate for one and so we didn’t adjust our board to try to go after one. We stuck with our board and let it fall as it did.”
In a perfect world, the Dolphins would be able to find a player that could be a franchise caliber quarterback. there is really only one of those in the group that is likely to be available. His name is Carson Palmer. If Palmer doesn't become available, and the chances are good he will not, the Dolphins have to get creative and lower their expectations all at once.
What follows is an extensive look at the quarterbacks who are likely to be available and what their situation looks like. I present to you the signal-callers in order of how likely each player would be the answer for the quarterback-hungry Dolphins.
Carson Palmer: I told you in mid March that Dolphins sources were telling me he would be their No. 1 option if he becomes available and at the right time. The Cincinnati Bengals own his rights. He hates the idea of going back to Cincy to a degree that he's promised to retire if he's not traded. The Bengals have said they will not trade him, but they also have obviously moved on -- picking Andy Dalton in the second round of last week's draft. So perhaps the Bengals stick to their word. And perhaps they try to get something for Palmer. It could be nothing. It could be everything! If the Bengals put Palmer on the market, I report to you the Dolphins will be in line to get him. But even if that happens, other teams might also be in line, including Seattle and Arizona. Palmer has stated he'd like to play on the west coast. Seattle coach Pete Carroll coached him at USC. One small bit of trivia: Palmer's agent was also Dan Marino's agent back in the day. Don't know what that means, or if its too much information but I want to share as much with you as possible.
Marc Bulger: He will be starting his 11th NFL season in 2011. He was once considered among the most accurate and most-gifted quarterbacks in the NFL. That was circa 2004-2006. That was also when he was playing behind a solid offensive line and with some talent around him. But the Rams declined as the talent around Bulger aged and disappeared. So he declined. He got beat up and seemed beat down when I saw him play against Miami in 2008. He was bailing out of the pocket. He was rushing his throws. He had happy feet. Bulger was injured in 2009 and then signed a one-year free agent contract with the Ravens in 2010. He did not throw a pass in a game. Some people believe that year off served as a rehab of sorts for Bulger -- a time to heal and find himself again. He will be on the market. And there will be takers because Arizona, for one, might see him as a reclamation project similar to the one they undertook with Kurt Warner -- which worked out pretty well. I believe if the Dolphins cannot get Palmer, Bulger will be their second target. Not anything anyone has whispered to me. Speculation. But it is logical. The Dolphins can sign Bulger for a year or two and offer him a chance to win a starting job. If he beats out Henne, so be it. If he doesn't, he sits. Arizona might be able to offer him the starting job outright. We'll see.
Kyle Orton: He is limited. He is also under contract in Denver. This would have to involve a trade. That would mean the Broncos would have to be willing to get rid of a security blanket. It would signal that club president John Elway is handing the keys to the franchise to Tim Tebow. I don't know that Denver would be ready to do that in the offseason. Elway might want to wait until a training camp competition decides matters. If Elway is convinced Tebow is going to be his quarterback, he might want to get rid of Orton to avoid a QB controversy and also to save Orton's salary and and get compensation for Orton in return. That's not really a situation the Dolphins or any other outside team can really drive.
Matt Flynn: He is never, ever, ever going to play in Green Bay unless something happens to Aaron Rodgers. So the Packers might be willing to part with this youngster (and winner) for the right draft pick compensation. He played when Rodgers was injured last season. He had a nice performance (3 TD, 1 INT) versus the Patriots in a 31-27 loss. It was his only start of the season. The case for Flynn is simple: He played collegiately in the Southeastern Conference and helped LSU win the national title. He's been very well coached in Green Bay. He's only 25 years old which suggests he could be part of the future. But ... He's unproven and moreso than Henne. He has played in the West Coast offense and the Dolphins don't run that. If the Dolphins are looking at the QB spot with a view of the future, this might be a good move. If they want someone for right now, and aren't eager to give up even modest draft picks, this isn't the move.
Kerry Collins: If this was 2001 instead of 2011, Collins would make great sense. But Collins is 38 years old now and there is no knowing how much he has left in the tank. I'd say he's a good option as a veteran backup that can pick up a game or two in a crisis. But compete to win the job? that is seriously hoping against hope. So why is Collins on this list? He's still got a great arm. He's good in the locker room. He's a professional. He has no off-the-field issues. To me, he makes perfect sense back at Tennessee where he can tutor Jake Locker. I assume that will be his preference. But you never know. He's one of the few guys on this list that isn't exclusively a West Coast offense quarterback.
Matt Hasselbeck: He was amazing in the postseason, throwing seven TDs and and only one INT. I don't know if he was finally healthy. I don't know if he was playing for a new contract. I don't know if the 35-year-old took a drink from the Fountain of Youth. Whatever, Hasselbeck positioned himself into being valuable to someone in free agency. Don't get too excited. Before he played a Pro Bowl player in the playoffs, Hasselbeck was bad in the regular season -- throwing 12 TDs and 17 INTs. That's really no upgrade in stats over what Henne offered the Dolphins. Hasselbeck is and has always been a classic West Coast offense guy, which is not a great fit for Miami's offense. Can the old dog learn a new offense? Will he want to? And would he want to come to a mediocre team in Miami for what might be the end of his career?
Kevin Kolb: He lost the starting job to Michael Vick last season and could now be expendable. The Eagles are expected to entertain trade offers. There are rumors the San Francisco 49ers covet Kolb. There are other reports the Arizona Cardinals will be players in the derby for his services if and when the Eagles open the market for him. I see Arizona as his most likely landing spot. I don't see the Dolphins participating to any degree because the price for him will be higher than any other QB on the trade market -- higher than Palmer, if Cincy budges -- because of his age. But that high price comes with limited experience. He has played 19 games in four years. He has 11 career TDs and 14 career INTs. There are NFL people that see him as a sure thing. There are NFL people that see him as a question mark. The detractors also say Kolb is more suited for a West Coast offense. It's what he knows. It suits his skill set. The Dolphins do not use the West Coast offense.
Vince Young: The Titans are parting ways with their former first-round draft pick. That should give you pause. It would be the second Titans coaching staff that would be comfortable with the idea of getting rid of Young. That should give you pause. And, ultimately, the separation is not really a matter of performance on Young's part but rather because of his locker room and off-the-field and personal dealings with coaches and teammates. That, again, should really give pause. Finally, on the field, Vince Young has been a winner but not really spectacular. Young has played 54 games. He's thrown 42 touchdowns. And 42 interception. I don't see how this makes sense.
Donovan McNabb: What happened? Two years ago he was a really good player. But much like other Philadelphia quarterbacks that go to other teams, McNabb suddenly stunk, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns for the first time in his career. Should McNabb become available, the Redskins will probably try to get something in trade for him. I don't see his trade value to be very high. Maybe a fifth-round pick. The Dolphins and Redskins have a relationship in that they made a trade in the most recent draft. (Maybe TMI again on my part.) I must tell you McNabb was excellent in Andy Reid's west coast offense but he didn't seem to take a shine to Mike Shanahan's run-heavy version of the offense. He also didn't seem to particularly endear himself to Shanahan behind the scenes so that raises red flags as well. Don't see him as a fit.
Kellen Clemens: He's a free agent. He's been with the Jets since 2006 and was once considered the future starter until Mark Sanchez came along. He has a nice arm, a nice disposition, and a history with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. No, he's not the answer to the quarterback question. He's a possibility as a backup. He would be a guy to remember if the Dolphins fail to find a veteran that can actually go toe-to-toe in a legitimate competition with Henne. Failing that ... Clemens is a possibility. Not possible, you say? Dolphins don't sign good guys when they cannot start in the NFL, you say? Two words: Josh McCown.
Brett Ratliff: You've never heard of the 6-4, 224-pounder from Utah. Neither had I until I started doing some homework. Ratliff played for Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in New York. He was traded to the Browns when Daboll came on board in 2009. Somehow he ended up on the New England practice squad. I assume the Browns cut him. And then the Browns signed him off the Patriots practice squad last season. No, he didn't start. He hasn't ever thrown a pass in a game. But if you're looking for a name that Miami might be interested in as a third QB toward the end of training camp, this is the one. Ratliff signed a future's contract with the Titans so he belongs to them right now. (Hey, we're talking QBs here. Everyone's important.)
Yeah, that's about it at the moment. Maybe somebody loses their mind and becomes suddenly available. Otherwise, maybe Dan Marino is itching for a comeback.