The Dolphins have traded wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears for two third-round selections, according to Jay Glazer of Foxsports.com.
[Update: The Herald has confirmed this move.]
The move clears salary cap room and could signal a precursor to the Dolphins landing Peyton Manning as well as several of his former Indianapolis Colts teammates, including Reggie Wayne. That is my hope.
The more likely scenario?
This move does not show intent to get Manning and is instead a move to protect the next quarterback the Dolphins bring to town -- anyone that is, including a lesser player such as Matt Flynn -- because Marshall has had a history of feuding with his QBs in Miami. This move is a way for the Dolphins to begin what will be a total revamp of the offense under new coach Joe Philbin.
[Update: Club source says this trade is independent of Manning chase. Manning didn't request it or anything such as being speculated. Been in the works since the NFL Combine in Feb. But, I'm told, if Manning comes it would mean other moves would be necessary.]
The trade reunites Marshall with former quarterback Jay Cutler which is great for the Bears. But does this make the Dolphins better?
Only if Manning and another player is coming or the Dolphins are somehow adding a bigtime playmaking wide receiver in free agency or the draftis this a net plus. This much is certain: If the Dolphins are not working on or ready to pull the trigger on a follow-up move, this shows the Marshall move two years ago to have been a bad move.
The Dolphins yielded two second-round picks to Denver for Marshall. They are not getting the same value in return. Yes, Marshall was a Pro Bowl player in 2011, but he was also often a problem in that he feuded with Chad Henne and made no bones of the fact he wanted a franchise quarterback.
Oh, by the way, NFL free agency arrives ... now!
It is 4:01 p.m. on March 13, 2012 and so bracketology schmacketology. The news at this hour?
Say good-bye to nose tackle Paul Soliai. The Dolphins do not expect to re-sign their 2011 Franchise player. Not only have the two sides failed to come to an agreement on a long-term contract the past two years but the Dolphins, apparently intent on making a quarterback splash in free agency and knowing Soliai won't come cheaply, haven't made the nose tackle any contract offers in recent weeks.
There has been no movement on this front whatever. Barring a major MAJOR change, Soliai is gone. So where is he going? Soliai will have suitors. The teams expected to show the most interest in Soliai include Kansas City, Denver, Atlanta, Indianiapolis and perhaps San Francisco.
[Update: The Dolphins have in the last hour reached out to Soliai and are talking. So there's still a chance he stays.]
The Dolphins have another starter on the open market in defensive end Kendall Langford. The sides have been in relatively frequent contact the past week or so. The Dolphins want Langford back. Langford wants to return. But Langford wants the most amount of money possible. The Dolphins want to re-sign Langford at a number that shows they like him very much but don't necessarily love him.
What a shocker: It's a money thing.
On the chase front, the Dolphins are obviously still hoping to land Peyton Manning. But, as I reported earlier today, they will move on to Matt Flynn if the Manning chase fails. A source tells The Herald's Barry Jackson that Flynn will be patient in free agency unless someone throws a huge offer on the table for him immediately.
Yes, Seattle and Cleveland could have interest. But the Flynn camp understands the Dolphins being in the chase would drive up interest and potentially drive up Flynn's price. And since money is the thing, patience will be something Flynn shows.
He's looking to go deep on this contract rather than get a check-down deal.
I am not certain the Dolphins will be major players in free agency -- at least not early on. The club is approximately $11-$12 million under the NFL's $120.6 million salary cap before the Marshall trade. Obviously that is more now, but I have to figure out the ramifications.
Miami's needs include pass-rusher, right tackle, and cornerback. Of all those, the cornerback market seems expecially rich this free agency period. Yes, right tackle Eric Winston and outside linebacker/defensive end Mario Williams are the prizes on the market, but they will be so expensive I cannot see Miami chasing or landing either. (Wrote about it anyway because I'm a dreamer and anything is possible.)
[Update: I have confirmed that Eric Winston will visit with the Dolphins. This doesn't mean he's signing. A lot of teams are interested -- up to a dozen -- and he is not going to sign a bargain contract. But he is scheduled to visit at this time.]
[Update: Eric Winston said on Sirius radio that he will fly to South Florida tonight and visit the Dolphins Wednesday.]
The Dolphins today did some minor contract laundry with their restricted and exclusive rights players. The club tendered RT Lydon Murtha with a second-round tender. The club tendered defensive end Phillip Merling to an original round tender. Both have signed their tenders, costing the Dolphins a total of $3.1 million.
The club did not tender either running back Lex Hilliard or defensive lineman Ryan Baker.