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No. 1 Dolphins free agent must re-sign? Brian Hartline

The most important Dolphins free agent for the team this offseason? You could argue Randy Starks. Some believe it is Jake Long, although I totally disagree there. Other think Sean Smith, although I see him as very inconsistent and wonder how he'll react to getting paid.

Nope, I believe it's receiver Brian Hartline.

As I write in my column in Sunday's Miami Herald, the Dolphins cannot have a second consecutive season in which they lose wide receiver talent. They need to add at that position and, frankly, Hartline is a certainty while players such as Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings are not.

The fact is neither we nor the Dolphins know exactly what will become of Wallace and Jennings before free agency begins. Yes, they're slated to be UFAs. Yes, they would add talent to Miami's needy offense.

But we cannot be certain they'll be available because free agency doesn't begin until the middle of March. And teams have a window during which they can sign their own free agents. And most good teams don't lose their good players.

So no one knows if Wallace or Jennings will be availabe. The Dolphins do know Hartline is a good player and is available now. My column lets Hartline talk about his feelings on returning to Miami and how he'd feel if the Dolphins don't re-sign before the start of free agency.

Hartlne, by the way, agrees with me that Miami can't be losing WR talent and hoping to get better. 

“As a football guy, to get rid of your leading receiver in back-to-back years. I think that would be tough," he told me. "It’s tough to do. And I understand, they’re in a tough situation and I’m not in a position to say how to do it. I don’t do that. That’s not my job. But that’s hard to do as a franchise if you want to build something. If it costs a little more than you expected, well, that’s the nature of the NFL sometimes.”

A lot of fans often get caught up in the free agency trap of arguing about what a player is not. We all know Hartline is not a No. 1 receiver.

But good teams focus on what players are. Hartline is a good No. 2 wide receiver and if he's you're No. 3 you have a stellar WR corps.

What else is Hartline?

He can play any WR position because he knows them all. He's good in the locker room. He isn’t high-maintenance. Yes, he had one instance where he got frustrated with a coach who was asking him what he saw on the field and because he had already explained himself previously and still the ball wasn’t coming to him, Hartline shut down and simply didn’t talk.

But that was one passing moment this year. He doesn’t jack up the quarterback on the sideline. He doesn’t threaten to punch coaches if they don’t get him the ball, as one previous Dolphins receiver did in 2010.

“I was wrong but you have to let how to handle it,” Hartline said. “I understand now that  I was acting hard-headed because it was a game situation. I was frustrated. It happened once because it’s a passionate sport. But it won’t happen again. It was wrong because you need to learn how to handle it. I didn’t blow up on anybody but wasn’t helping anybody so I’ve learned from that.”

Hartline wants to be signed by the time free agency opens. The ball is in Miami's court. Once free agency begins the ball is in Hartline's court.

“You know, I tell you what, if I do go elsewhere, I’ll tell you what I told Jeff [Ireland]: If we get to free agency, as much as you guys interview me, I’m going to be interviewing you," Hartline said. "Like we’re 7-9. How do you see us getting better? I want to know, too. I want to win. I need to win. That’s what I’d do with other teams, too. I’m going to interview them as much as they want to interview me.

“I want to see myself buying into wherever I see myself at – here, there, wherever. Once I buy in, I’m all in. I want don’t want to be doubting people. I know there are trusts that build over time. But as much as they’re buying into me, I’m buying into you.”

Whatever happens -- whether Miami signs Hartline before free agency or not -- the receiver understands the next couple of months will be busy.

“It’s going to hectic," he said. 





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Mando, I agree with you. Miami can't continue starting over with their skill position players. That's not how you create consistency on offense. Miami needs to re-sign Hartline, then go HEAVY on other WR weapons for Tannehill. Add to that a pass-friendly TE and now you've got some explosiveness to utilize. Jeff Ireland, you are now on the clock. No excuses.

Dolphins management has deservedly earned a reputation of keeping underperformers too long (Henne, Jerry, Clemons, Misi, Ginn, White, Odrick, Sparano, etc) and letting winning players go to other teams (Marshall, Davis, Welker, etc). I don't see how on their sixth year they suddenly have an epiphany, and then instantaneously become competent.

I hope we get Hartline signed up at #2 WR price. If he wants #1 $$ then he will be gone. If gets to the interviewing Ireland part...He will be gone..Ireland will tell him we will win, because I'm great at finding acorns.

Anyone having the recurring nightmare of hartline in a patriot uniform?? Just Kidding but with this GM anythings possible.... I dont trust the man AT ALL!!!! Really hope im wrong!!!!

If Miami doesn't resign Hartline, I will never purchase another Miami home ticket again. Period!

Hartline says "once he buys in, he's all in". What? Wrong #2 receiver. When you sign the contract that pays you millions a year, you have bought in. Your all in or your all out. The one pet pieve I have with you so called athlets is you believe a team cant get along with out u. The media worries weather or not you have "bought in". I say when u sign the contract to play for pay, you have already bought in.
Get with it dude.

Thats why i asked the question on a previous blog about should jennings and wallace not become available what do we do? who do we get to upgrade now?
allowing hartline to leave would not be a wise move if we don't have 2-3 instant replacements(of better quality)
I believe a lot of players who are not stars are happy to stay with the team that drafted them if they are treated fairly. So to me that means a decent payday but not a bankbusting deal, which allows the player to get paid and still gives the team enough money to pursue missing pieces.

Armando writes
“As a football guy, to get rid of your leading receiver in back-to-back years. I think that would be tough," he told me. "It’s tough to do. And I understand, they’re in a tough situation and I’m not in a position to say how to do it. I don’t do that. That’s not my job. But that’s hard to do as a franchise if you want to build something. If it costs a little more than you expected, well, that’s the nature of the NFL sometimes.”
OK Armando you make a decent point. The Dolphns unloaded Wes Welker and Chris Chambers years ago and have not recovered since. Years of not drafting a receiver early and not making the correct decisions on free agents has left the Dolphins without playmakers. The M.O. has to change. Obviously Bill Parcells had it wrong in his recruiting. Skill players have become a huge commodity in the NFL and a team can not have enough due to possible injury. Pay the man, NOT $8M but pay him to stay a Dolphin.

Ireland will screw it up, no bush or hartline next year

I think signing Bush is way more important then signing Hartline.

rbs dime a dozen

Right on Mando. Hartline has been solid for us and to lose him would be very disappointing.

Everyone else i'd let go because none of them either deserve the $$$ (Bush,Long,Smith) or we could replace them with someone else on the roster (Odrick for Starks)

That would save alot of dollars then we can potentially sign...

1) Mike Wallace ($9 mill)
2) Jermichael Finley ($8 mill)
3) Derek Cox ($6 mill)
4) Andy Livitre $7 mill)

Then once the Draft begins we focus on...

2 x WR's
2 x CB's

Job Done,hello playoffs...

Hartline is currently the best WR on the team. Resign him.

Finman, running backs are a dime a dozen, WR aren't. If Bush is gone, he's gone, and that's fine. But you have to sign Hartline.

Mark, 7 mil is a whole lot of money for a guard.

i think we n eed to resign smith and hartline.

Letting either go makes near impossible we could fill 2 or 3 cb AND wr spots in the same season.

Both are solid #2 guys

Jeff Irelands words...."we have a bunch of 4s...5....and 6s"......

Then he continued Miami WR try outs until the final game of the season....

Ireland believes that the CEILING for Brian Hartline is that of a # 4 WR.....@ BEST....and for ONCE in 2 years...I agree with him.....

Hartline was the DEFACTO #1...so he was targeted more frequently.....and he had a the best year of his career.....he cracked a thousand yards.....good for him....he won't/can't do it as a #2 or #3 option....which he almost certainly will be if he is in a FIN uniform to start the 2013 season.....

SO what are we gonna pay for.....

Pay Hartline like a #1....and then run plays for him like a #3......

it doesn't make sense......

Hartline has earned the opportunity to hood-wink another franchise that hasn't done they're homework.....sucks to be them....

Ireland KNOWS Hartline...and knows what he is capable of....I believe Ireland wants to pay Hartline like a #3 WR....as it should be....and if Ireland lets him walk......I won't have one bit of HART-BURN about it......

The Phins have to add to their WR corp not take away from it. I agree resign Hartline... as the #2 then add FA Wallace or Jennings as the #1. Then Draft another early. That is a pretty impressive WR corp for Tannehill to grow with and take the next step.

Don't forget about the TE...They must get a pass catching TE to get open down the middle of the field. Not sure if Egnew is that guy or not but why take the chance? Draft another one and create some competition in any case. Resign Fasano but at the price for 1-2 years.

did ANYONE expect more production than 2000 yards rushing and 600 receiving and 15 td's in 2 years from Bush?

Then why are we acting like we can easily replace him?

Bush is only 27 and we know what we got. In fact hes even been more durable since coming to miami.

For what Bush produces we would be morons not to pay the guy what he got last year, and hes probably going to get less for falling a few yards short anyways. The guy is a team player and a good leader.
Cut thomas i say

"Dolphins management has deservedly earned a reputation of keeping underperformers too long (Henne, Jerry, Clemons, Misi, Ginn, White, Odrick, Sparano, etc) and letting winning players go to other teams (Marshall, Davis, Welker, etc). I don't see how on their sixth year they suddenly have an epiphany, and then instantaneously become competent.

You want them to cut draft picks after 2 seasons? Wow, your a great GM, they should hire you since you got the gift of the eye

"rbs dime a dozen"

People keep on saying that but most of the consistent ones were drafted.And we already have one that gets at least 8 td's and 1300 yards a season and ISNT OVERPAID. Why waste a draft pick on a guess when you have one you can sign at a decent salary already?

"Finman, running backs are a dime a dozen, WR aren't.


Kind of a silly comment considering how many people play wr. Usually only 1 rb. Just the available pool of wr's makes this comment wrong. Everyone wants to be a wr and score td's.

Most of the late rb draft picks found are usually lucky with the production they produce.

Kind of like giving the pats credit for finding tom brady.Of course we all know brady would have rotted on the bench if bledsoe was never hurt.

I don't know why we are even teasing ourselves, we all know that Ireland is going to waste our first round pick on an O-lineman that will under perform, then in the second round he will go after projects that will be projected to go in round 3 or 4, all this will happen while other teams are grabbing up the good skill players, then all of a sudden Ireland and his yes men will realize they need to pick a WR just to appease the fanbase. It's been the same story yr after yr with just different characters, look at last yr he didn't even address the WR issue till round 5, I think, and that's even after he knew he didn't truly have a #1 WR (Marshall to Chi), how many decent WRs did he pass up, just to take players that wouldn't even make a practice squad on other successful teams, no friends this will be another yr where come late April we all will be frantically searching for the silver lining in Ireland's 2013 draft class. I honestly can't understand why Ross doesn't see how inept Ireland is, it's truly amazing and frustrating at the same time. One last thing, don't count on any big FA signings, Ireland and his arrogance will push all the real playmakers to other teams. I hope I didn't bring anyone down, but in my opinion what I just described is already a foregone conclusion.

The following is from a blogger that calls himself TECATE that posted this under Armando's column....

I predict: Miami signs Hartline to a 5 year 25 million dollar deal (18 mil guaranteed), declare him Brandon Marshall 2.0. Hartline catches 44 passes for 612 yards and a touchdown as Miami goes 6-10. Stephen Ross renews Jeff Ireland for 6 more years and to celebrate they share a Porterhouse steak at Shula's.

Its funny...and I am sure he is being sarcastic....but in ALL honesty...what do you guys expect Hartline to sign for......Hartline and his agent have already told the WORLD (Armando) that they felt insulted by the last offer....not a good way run a negotiation.....this is IN-HOUSE stuff that is now PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE.....

I don't think Ireland and FO personnel will take kindly to this being spread thru the press.....

I respect Rosenhouse....and I expect him to fight for his client....but history show (with Ireland) if you pick a fight with Ireland over money....you just fought the wrong man..... Ireland doesn't seem to budge much when he has placed a DOLLAR amount to you're production.....

and that is NOT to say that this FO is cheap...we TOP DOLLAR for Brandon Marshall and Carlos Dansby....so Ireland will spend if he thinks you are WORTH it.....but he won't be suckered...or bullied into paying more than that # he has in his head....

and if the above statement hold true.....Hartline will be in another uniform next year.....



I agree, $7 mill is pricey for a Guard but we have to find a replacement for John Jerry,who in all honesty stinks like a 2 week old dead rat.

Andy Levitre is a quality Guard and if we can sign him for cheaper,then happy days :)

Sign Brian Hartline, sign a free agent WR and Draft Zach Ertz TE from Stanford. SIMPLE....

With Hartline and Bess you have two thirds of a great receiving corps.In my opinion we need to add another potential or existing star,not lose one of the pieces we already have in place.Keep what we have and add another piece to the offense.I like Keenan Allen from Cal.He is a natural receiver and tailor made for the west coast offense.

Why not sign em all? We certainly have the cap space!

John Jerry is really ANOTHER IRESCUM BUST!

You have o throw Eifert from Alabama into any TE discussion.

PA Finfan, you're wrong about what you wrote, first one thing Ireland doesn't do is over draft. Most of his drafts he under drafts. last year Martin was project to be a 1st rounder, Ireland landed him in the 2nd. Miller was considered a 2nd rounder, Ireland drafted him in the 4th, Odrick was projected as mid 1st rounder, he was drafted in the latter part of the 1st. You really ought to take a look at the Ireland drafts, the only O-linemen drafted in the 1st were Pouncy and Long. I mean before you post garbage, do your research.

.I won't have one bit of HART-BURN about it......

Posted by: Kris | January 06, 2013 at 09:57 AM

The level of illiteracy of the typical football fan is dismal. What a shame. I guess dumb athletes attract dumb fans.

If Brian Hartline was worth keeping.....he would have had his "career years" during the the time he spent playing 2nd fiddle to Brandon Marshall.....

That was the prime time for Hartline to show he was "wes welker" like.....

but he didn't.....

during that time he had years of.....43 and 35 receptions (respectively)......

not exactly "wes welker" like.....

a lot of work to be done and we have the resources to do it, sad ireland will be in control

they'll re-sign Hartline, because Ireland knows his butts on the line and that he needs to add WR talent, not lose more--he has no choice-also agree, strongly, that Fin fans need to pull back their FA expectations because to assume ANY of the top FA WRs will be available would be foolish--possibly, but dont count on it (ie. dont be too disappointed if they're not)-re-sign Hartline, sign a top FA WR if possible, draft a TE in Rd 2 and another WR in Rd 3.......thats the plan.

Have to resign Bush. He is the entire offense. Another priority is drafting a franchise QB because Tannehill is not it. A WR would be helpful also. But we've already learned that Ireland cant do it.....Ross, take some action!

be interesting to see if they want finley after gb cuts him. id love to see hartline,bess, jennings, bowe or wallace here. why not make a crazy spread offense with 4 very good wrs. finally some life would be back in s fla

.I won't have one bit of HART-BURN about it......

Posted by: Kris | January 06, 2013 at 09:57 AM

The level of illiteracy of the typical football fan is dismal. What a shame. I guess dumb athletes attract dumb fans.

Posted by: Cey | January 06, 2013 at 10:29 AM

What is REALLY a shame...is that you are to DUMB to get it....

bu whats REALLY funny is that in you're mind....you THINK you took a shot @ me.....lol.......

How pathetic it must be to be you....I wouldn't wish you're pitiful existence on my worst enemy....


You make a lot of sense this morning (not the first time, btw).

Hartline's not a #1, so what is he? Well in my books he should be a number three, because I want Jennings signed and I want a kid like Hopkins drafted. HE may be better than Hokins to start but that won't last long. So what are guys looking for from Ireland? Are they looking for this guy to get a 3 or 4 year deal at $6-7 million a year? Not sure I would do that. Yeah there's always the risk that we won't be able to get Jennings or Wallace to come here but like last year when it didn't work out with Flynn or Manning or Smith, we went with another plan and drafted Tannehill. To me, if it doesn't work out with FA WRs we draft TWO WRs in the draft and a TE. We can always find another vet if need be, if the kids we draft aren't ready. There's always back-up plans.

To me, I don't see Hartline as a 'must-sign'. A 'nice to have at the right price'....YES. There's other ways to get this done.

Hi Kris: from yesterday on Tannehill, those were Pro Football Focus rankings that Miami Herald's Barry Jackson had cited. Seemed a bit generous to me, also.

I understand your point on Hartline but this is the wrong time for you to be agreeing w/Jeff Ireland. :) Hartline may produce better next year with an improved version of Tannehill and additional pass receiving threats. Probably no DB in the NFL lost Saturday night sleep when thinking of facing the Dolphins on Sunday in 2012 but could be much different next year. Also, the guy produced this year and deserves the raise. I don't think it should be a repeat of the Vernon Carey thing, though.

I also like Fasano to return. I know it won't be popular but with a question mark over Clay -and especially Egnew -why not? Fasano caught 41 of 41 catchable balls thrown his way this year, according to PFF, yet he was only targeted 60 times or so. This was less than half of what the more popular tight ends saw this year. If you are throwing to flypaper, why not do it more? Coaches or Tannehill sure missed on him this year.


Posted by: PA Finfan | January 06, 2013 at 10:12 AM

splitting hairs maybe but 'd consider Hartline a good #3, a weak #2 (on a good team)--valuable and important for Miami, no doubt......I also think its silly to get too worked up about "who is the #1, the #2, etc"--Packers make it work with a bunch of very good WRs that all contribute, but hard to say which is their 1, or 2, etc......Miami needs to upgrade/keep WR talent, period.

Tell me how well Welker did when he was here?

Tell me how well Welker would have done under the Sparano offense run by the Henne arm protected by the famous Sparano line. LOL!

Not even Megatron would have looked like a #1 on that team.

Some of you have no sense of perspective.

Great QB's make great WR's...

Hartline sounds like he wants to get paid. I'd pay him similar to what nelson got in GB. This is the best hartline will be. Bringing back all the mediocre players on a mediocre team is not always the best idea.

I expect more from #1 RB than what Bush did in 2012. The guy had less than 1,000 yds rushing and only 5 games over 100 yds rushing and passing. If you look at his game logs there were huge chunks of the season he disappeared. Now he maybe a 3rd down back but that doesn't hold the same value as a #1. That position has to produce to take pressure off the passing game.

1966finfan , It's Eifert is from Notre Dame not Alabama, he's a reshirt JR who may not come out. Or did you mean Ertz not Eifert, and he's from Stanford not Alabama, and he's a Jr eligible who may not come out. Look up your fact GOD.

One has to consider an individual within the framework of the team around him. It is a team game.

Marshall had his worst years here. So has every wide out since Marino retired.

Mathews will be as good as hartline in a year. And he's bigger and faster.


I'll stand by my theory that this was a CAREER year for Hartline in Miami. Comes at a very convenient time for him. Yeah the TDs should have been better but that's not all on him.

If he stays here I don't believe he'll surpass what he did this year. If he ends up in NE all bets are off. I look forward to people continuing to tell me I was wrong on here, five years from now.

Finman, you contradict......above you say that Tannehill is not a franchise QB, but then say "great QBs make great WRs" (which I mostly agree with)......but considering Hartline had a good to very good year (everybody agrees), doesnt that imply that Tannehill is good to very good too?......which is it?

We have a finite number of holes if we do not create new ones in FA. Definitely re-sign Hartline, he is not a #1 but is a reliable #2. Re-sign Long or franchise him as he is good enough. Past Bess and Hartline the rest of the WR should go. Unless the coaching staff knows something that was not obvious on the field drop Egnew and Thomas as well as neither looks to ever be starters.

Meanwhile use the top 5 draft to fill our huge holes on offense - #1 pass-receiving TE, #2 WR, #3 WR, #4 OG, #5 OG or FB.

Cey, Hartline is Jordy Nelson. He's a good #2 as was written, good #3's don't catch 1,000 yards. Period.

Sell the team, put up a parking lot

BoulderPhinfan, he's not faster than Hartline, Hartline is a 4.45 40, and Matthews isn't look it up.

agree Boulder, that we may have seen the best of Hartline, and thats why I consider him a good #3/weak 2.....but thats ok because thats pretty darn good, even if he can come close to matching this years production going forward--he's already good, can hopefully become very good and even if he steps back a bit, he'd still be solid/important--that works, as long as they can add a top tier WR--also agree that Matthews has potential as well

Agreed they should keep Hartline. Hopefully he will not look for a ridiculously high contract. He deserves to be paid, but not overpaid.

Sometimes, as I've argued before on here, it's not only the moves your GM makes but the moves he doesn't make that you want from your GM. Orton was one. There have been others. To me, going over what you value Hartline to be worth, because you have cap room and because you have need at the WR spot, is move you don't want your GM to make.

Happy to have the guy back, but I have the feeling, as a 4th round draft pick, not making that much on his rookie deal, his agent is going to try to make break the back on this contract. As Kris said, I'd be fine of some other team makes that mistake. Good player....but I don't see this guy as 'must sign'.

Not long ago star WR Cris Carter didn't think Megatron was an elite receiver. He had to later eat his words, but the point is Megatron didn't look elite until his QB played like a pro-bowler.

One has to consider everything and not just the stat column.

Hartline has played well enough to keep him at a position we are already very thin at. Not every WR on the SB teams is a #1, #2's have their place.

We also can't assume any FA we bring in will play up to expectations. Haven't we learned that lesson?

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