After yesterday's press conference to announce the modernization of Sun Life, I was talking to a some Dolphins officials when one of them brought up the point that the push to get the public funding portion of this deal would have been much, much easier if the team on the field was better.
No doubt about that.
The 49ers won an ballot measure for funding of their new stadium right after going to the NFC championship game last year. The Heat got their new arena on the heels Pat Riley coming to Miami, promising a parade down Biscayne Boulevard, and trading for Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway. Yeah, the team was in the middle of a 61-win season when the measure was approved so nice timing.
The Jets and Giants got their new digs amid multiple AFC Championship game appearances by one and a Super Bowl title by the other.
The Atlanta Falcons, by the way, are really good these days so they're going to get a new stadium.
Good things happen off the field when good things happen on the field, folks. Politicians are more prone to jump on bandwagons. Fans are more apt to accept team requests for, say, a bed tax increase that doesn't really affect them anyway.
Unfortunately, the Dolphins are making this request right smack in the middle of the team's worst four years. Ever.
The team's current four-year string of losing seasons and failure to make the playoffs is the worst in club history.
And that brings me to this:
I just found another reason the Dolphins should be aggressive, big players in free agency and alike this offseason.
Look, I know it's bad policy to make football moves for the sake of helping the business side of the organization. But the truth is the Dolphins football moves have been hindering the business side for years now.
Why do you think the stands haven't been full and owner Stephen Ross has had to swallow hard and pay for his own tickets the last few years?
This offseason, which starts in mid-March, is an opportunity to help both the football side and the business side. If, unlike the past two years, the Dolphins can identify two, perhaps three bigtime free agents that are worthy of rich contracts instead of shopping for bargain basement dolts that end up cut or on the roster's margins, that might also help the effort to get the stadium modernized.
I grant you the tether between both issues is frail. The Dolphins need action from the Florida legislature and Miami-Dade government before the South Florida Super Bowl bid goes to an NFL vote in 18 weeks.
But free agency begins in nine weeks.
If Miami can play big and play to win the first few days of free agency when the prized players go anyway, that might sway some elected officials while also, you know, improving a roster that sorely needs the upgrade.
Understand me. My priority is the roster. That was proven Monday when I didn't ask any questions at the stadium presser. Even Ross kidded me about how quiet I was. I was quiet because I'm more a football and big picture guy than a micro stadium question guy.
I care about the product on the field more than the field itself.
But I've also seen how the stadium doesn't help deliver any sort of homefield advantage. I've seen how uncomfortable the place can be. I travel around the NFL and understand Sun Life is aging compared to other facilities that have come on line.
So I make room for the idea that success on the field can lead to success off as well.
By the way, Ross also busted my, um, chops about telling him which free agents I want signed. He apparently read my GM Salguero plan and wanted names.
I told him I would get him names of guys I want.
(Yeah, that will get tossed in the garbage).
Names not withstanding, I want to remind you of the philosophy I believe the Dolphins should follow this offseason: Go big!
Don't shop at K-Mart. You get marginal guys looking for bargains. The past couple of seasons have proven that. And the last thing the Dolphins need to do is add more marginal talent to a 7-9 team. The club would be better served not adding free agents than signing cheap, broken ones that will be competing to play special teams.
The Dolphins need difference-makers, folks. Yes, find them in the draft, by all means. That should be the nucleus to the team. But please, please, please don't avoid them like the plague in free agency or if they become available in trades.
Premium players cost premium money or picks. Anthony Gonzalez did. Robert Griffin III did. Peyton Manning did. Pierre Garcon did. Brandon Carr did. Aqib Talib did. And that was just last season. The NFL is filled with players acquired through free agency or trades that made a difference for their new teams, contrary to what the Dolphins said last week.
Wes Welker, Anquan Bolden (which I advocated for over Brandon Marshall in 2010), Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, John Abraham, Drew Brees, Vincent Jackson (another one I advocated for), Greg Olsen (another one I advocated for), on and on. All went to new teams as free agents or via trade and made an impact.
The Dolphins need to identify two or three such guys this offseason and do work.
Hint, Mr. Ross: WR Mike Wallace. DE Paul Kruger. TE Martellus Bennett (yeah, how about signing a former Cowboy that can make some plays). This off the top of my head. And assuming they're available, which is still to be seen.
I say identify two bigtime signings. And go get them. And then add somebody else that maybe thought himself a big-money guy but whose market has come back to earth. I believe Greg Jennings may find himself in that market.