If you've been reading me via this blog or my columns, if you've been listening to my radio show, Armando and Perkins on 640Sports in South Florida, you know I am uneasy about Miami's wide receiver situation.
It really isn't anything new. I've been uneasy about Miami's wide receiver situation since, oh, about 1995.
But as these Dolphins have zero to do with those issues dating that far back, let me explain why I'm uneasy with this administration's wide receiver situation -- the current wide receiver situation.
Let me start with history.
Frankly, this personnel department has been hit-and-miss with its wide receiver transactions. Yes, there have have been some notable successes, such as the uncovering of Davone Bess as an undrafted free agent.
But there have been some unprofitable transactions as well.
And the unprofitable stuff has seemingly out-numbered the successes.
Ernest Wilford is signed as an unrestricted free agent: The Dolphins gave Wilford a $6 million guarantee. The guy was a presumed starter the first day of training camp. And then practices began and he started dropping down the depth chart. And then he barely made the team his first year. And then he couldn't get on the field on game day -- he was inactive nine games and caught only three passes. The next year, the club tried him at tight end. It was another fiasco and he was cut as a free agency bust.
Signed Davone Bess as an undrafted free agent. Outstanding acquisition. Bess was on the receiving end of more passes at Hawaii than a hot gal at a Luau. But his lack of speed got him overlooked in the draft. The Dolphins took him, used him immediately as a returner and slot guy and developed him into a solid team contributor and weapon. Bess eventually was given a contract extension and remains to this moment Miami's finest receiver transaction.
Extended the contract of Greg Camarillo. Camarillo was alread on campus when the current administration arrived and he was excellent in 2008 because he simply didn't drop passes. He was dependable, a good route-runner and very smart. So the Dolphins gave him a contract extension as he was leading the team in receptions. But one week after getting that contract extension Camarillo blew out his knee and went on injured reserve. Never a speed merchant, Camarillo didn't regain the explosion he had before the knee blew out and he was traded the following summer for Benny Sapp. It was nobody's fault. Sometimes stuff happens. But obviously, this is not a positive result.
Drafted Patrick Turner in the third round. Turner looks the part. And in practice he sometimes played the part. But he didn't learn very quickly. He didn't progress. To those who watched him at USC, this was not a surprise because he only had one good season there. In other words, he was a one-year wonder and he wasn't truly a huge wonder at that. The following year Turner came back stronger, bigger, faster. And he still wasn't good enough. He was cut as a draft bust. By the way, general manager Jeff Ireland recently mentioned him as a good player he drafted because Turner is still in the league with the Jets. Sorry, players no longer on this roster don't qualify as good acquisitions for this team. Just being real, here.
Draft Brian Hartline in the fourth round. The Dolphins doubled down on receiver in 2009 as they have done at other positions. Smart thinking because while Turner flubbed, Hartline flourished. He was immediately able to learn not one but several WR spots. He showed ability to get deep. In 2010, he earned the starting job and still has the job today. No, he's not a star. But this year he'll be given a chance to take a leap to being an impact player. I doubt he'll take a step backwards, although his durability is a question. There is also the chance he is what we've seen so far and only that, which is to say he's a complementary player. At any rate, a fourth-round pick who is a complementary piece is a successful acquisition.
Traded for Brandon Marshall for a second round pick in 2010 and a second round pick in 2011. It was controversial when the Dolphins added Marshall based on his history with domestic violence and other locker room issues. It was controversial when Marshall continued to have domestic violence problems and other locker room issues, including feuding with quarterback Chad Henne. And it was controversial when the Dolphins decided to trade Marshall for a couple of third-round picks this offseason. Was this acquisition a net plus? Absolutely not. It was a mistake that cost the team tons of cap space, multiple second-round picks, multiple dropped passes, including touchdowns, and more drama than anyone would ever want.
Signed Marlon Moore as an undrafted free agent. Moore came from Fresno State skinny and raw and fast. He didn't exactly wow in college. And with the exception of a 54-yard TD pass against Oakland in 2010, he hasn't wowed in Miami. This is his make-or-break training camp and season. He's either going to show he belongs or the experiment ends. Having said that, I cannot condemn the acquisition because, again, he was an undrafed free agent.
Signed Roberto Wallace as an undrafted free agent. See Marlon Moore. Same story except for the long TD pass and the fact Wallace has been a more consistent special teams contributor. Regardless, it's put-up or shut-up time. We'll see.
Traded Ted Ginn for a box of yummy hot doughnuts: The Dolphins felt compelled to do this because they decided Ginn needed a change of address and scenery. I get it. I do. I also get that Ginn is still better than any return option the Dolphins have had since he was dealt. He's never amounted to much as a wide receiver. But as a return man, he's always been good for a couple of timely touchdowns per season. In hindsight, it can be argued the Dolphins should have kept him in that capacity.
Drafted Clyde Gates in the foruth round. Gates was picked as the speed on the outside. His job is to blow the top off the defense. Yeah, well, he caught two passes for 19 yards as a rookie. But it was a redshirt year of sorts. He gets more chances this year. The club is working him with starters early this offseason. Everyone wants him to succeed. Will he? No idea. The jury is still out on this one.
As you can see, Miami's recent history with wide receiver acquisitions is mixed at best and unproductive under a more critical microscope.
And as past performance is the best predictor of future performance, I am simply skeptical about the addition of receiver talent in the sixth and seventh rounds this year. I'm not buying anyone's word that either Rishard Matthews or B.J. Cunningham are going to solve the voids Miami has in the receiver corps.
I'll believe it when I see it.