Whatever you think of Brandon Marshal.l or the trade Tuesday to Chicago, or the current wide receiver market, or what is left of that market, or the amount of wide receiver talent in the draft, there is no denying one thing:
The Dolphins have wide receiver issues now.
And in this case we can define the word issues as problems.
To recap, the Dolphins rid themselves of Marshall pretty much because he got in trouble again and the team is obviously tired of his foolishness. Fine. But in getting rid of the foolishness the Dolphins also unfortunately had to part with their best WR.
And because the timing of the foolishness came just before the start of free agency, the Dolphins either didn't have time to plan or simply didn't plan well enough for replacing Marshall. So now the Dolphins are now diminished with few prospects of getting, um, minished.
(No, minished isn't a word. I mean the Dolphins have little chance of doing the opposite of what getting diminished is. Whatever. Work with me, here!)
Miami's first 2012 free agency move might have helped the team's chemistry and helped in keeping the team off the police blotter. But it also hindered in that it subtracted rather than added talent.
The Dolphins pulled the trigger on Marshall but by that time other No. 1 WRs were already spoken for because Vincent Jackson was already in Tampa talking to the Bucs, Pierre Garcon was already locked into Washington and other WRs were set up with visits elsewhere.
Fact is even Laurent Robinson, who the Dolphins view as an avenue for increasing the club's wide receiver talent, was already booked to Jacksonville. And although Robinson appreciates the attention from Miami and isn't eliminating Miami, he was not about to cancel his earlier Jacksonville plans. The way I understand the dynamic here is Robinson is only coming to visit the Dolphins if something goes wrong in Jacksonville.
Again, the Dolphins couldn't shoehorn themselves ahead of the Jaguars. It was apparently too late. And Robinson, it must be noted, was the Cowboys' third-best wide receiver and a luxury that team might not be able to afford keeping. He has never been a No. 1 WR.
With teams swallowing top flight WRs quickly, all that the market has left is No. 2 caliber talent. Mario Manningham is now on Miami's radar. He was the third best receiver for the Giants. Yet he's about as good as it gets on the remaining free agency market.
Indeed, the point here is Miami's wide receiver options are limited. They got rid of their No. 1 receiver and we should get used to the idea that they aren't getting one back in free agency.
So what does this mean?
First, it cannot help in the chase for Peyton Manning. That's right, the Dolphins are still hopeful of landing Peyton Manning even if signs point to him not coming here. The club is still in the sweepstakes and conducting financial business with an eye on not abdicating its opportunity to sign Manning unless he picks another team.
But it seems to me that when Manning finally sits down and weighs his options and looks at the Dolphins, the Marshall trade cannot possibly be considered a plus by him. He cannot believe that losing the best receiver talent on the team is good.
Oh, and please don't even suggest Manning will think better of the Dolphins because he sees one less troubled soul at wide receiver. To Manning, Marshall was an asset, a target, YAC (yards after catch) and touchdowns waiting to happen.
Unlike other QBs, Manning doesn't worry about prima donnas at WR. He eats prima donna WRs for lunch. Ask Marvin Harrison.
They fall in line.
I can see it now: Manning sits down and looks at Miami's current WR talent and sees Brian Hartline and Davone Bess and Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace and Clyde Gates. Two of those guys are coming off injuries. One is coming off an unimpressive rookie season. With all due respect to these men, not impressive.
The Marshall trade and Miami's apparent late jump into the WR market also puts draft pressure on the team to add at least one receiver. Suddenly a receiver in the second, or perhaps even first round has to be considered an option where it probably wasn't before the trade.
Things have changed. Everything has changed.
And from a purely talent level ... not for the better.
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