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Why the wide receivers need to come from free agency

On Tuesday, NFL.com's Albert Breer released his first mock draft of the offseason (of which I suppose there will be many) and had California wide receiver Keenan Allen going to the Dolphins with the No. 12 overall selection.

Today, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper will conduct a conference call with media from around the country. On Sunday and Monday, NFL personnel people and coaches will begin their trek to Mobile, Alabama for the annual practices leading up to the Senior Bowl.

Yes, draft season has begun.

And I will be as excited as always to see what the every team does. This will be a seminal draft for the Dolphins as they have five picks in the first three rounds and those will determine the direction of the franchise for years to come. So this draft needs to be a home run for Miami.

But ...

This draft is only part of a strategy I believe the Dolphins must use. I continue to advocate and indeed demand that the Dolphins be major players in free agency, particularly as it applies to the wide receiver position.

Draft Keenan Allen if you like, Jeff Ireland. Draft Jason Allen or Armando Allen for all I care. But when you get to draft day, you better have a playmaking wide receiver or two or three (three is best) that was signed via free agency on the roster already.

Why?

  1. The Dolphins have sucked at drafting wide receivers under Bill Parcells/Jeff Ireland. Patrick Turner. Bust. Clyde Gates. Bust. B.J. Cunningham. Bust. Rishard Matthews. No idea but not a star. Brian Hartline. Good player coming off a breakout year. So one drafted wide receiver out of five has found success in Miami. Not a good percentage.
  2. Rookie wide receivers take a while to develop. And for a team that has failed to even identify good receivers, it is a leap of faith to believe this year's crop will not only buck the trend but develop instantly.
  3. I'm tired of covering a loser. You're tired of cheering for a loser. The Dolphins are on a losing skid, having four consecutive seasons in which they have lost more than they won -- 7-9, 7-9, 6-10, 7-9. That represents the four worst years in franchise history. I know you've read that last line before. I intend to write it over, and over, and over again, until it sinks in because it is unacceptable. And yet, not addressing the biggest position of need until the draft where I've already shown you this team apparently has trouble identifying talent, and furthermore doing it for a position that takes time to develop anyway, is a message that 2013 will likely be another year of waiting for better days. That is a loser approach. Not acceptable.

The winner approach is the one proven over time by multiple teams. The approach to take is if you have a young quarterback, you are better off giving him experienced, talented receivers to ease the sting of his growth.

This season, three rookie quarterbacks had greater success than Miami rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. You can argue they were simply better. Part of that is correct. But they also had experienced receivers that helped them. And not just experienced receivers but outstanding experienced receivers.

Andrew Luck did very well in directing seven last minute comeback victories for the Colts. He has Reggie Wayne he can throw to and Wayne is nothing less than a future Hall of Fame candidate.

Robert Griffin III took the Redskins to the playoffs. And he had experienced and outstanding Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss, another experienced and very solid playmaker to throw to. Moss is a former Pro Bowl player.

Russell Wilson is another rookie who was also better than Tannehill. He had Sidney Rice, a former Pro Bowl and 1,000-yard receiver and Golden Tate, who is in his third year and coming into his own. Rice and Tate combined for 14 touchdown catches. That's one more TD through the air than the entire Dolphins team managed in 2012. They also both averaged over 15 yards per catch, which is better than any Dolphins receiver had in 2012.

The point is young quarterbacks have a difficult job. But successful teams try to make that job easier by giving those QBs very good, experienced receivers.

This is not a new approach.

When Peyton Manning came into the league, he had Marvin Harrison as a three-year veteran. When Matt Ryan came into the league, the Falcons went out and got him future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez to throw to. Phillip Rivers had more receiver talent around him than he knew what to do with and that included Antonio Gates. Ben Roethlisberger had Hines Ward, another borderline Hall of Fame candidate. Tom Brady's first-year as a starter he had Terry Glenn and Troy Brown. The Giants got Plaxico Burress in free agency for Eli Manning's first full year as a starter.

Sure, there are examples of quarterbacks and receivers coming up together bursting on the scene like a lightning bolt. Dan Marino, Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. But that is the exception rather than the rule. That is a once-a-generation thing.

You have a young QB and you expect him to succeed, get him a wide receiver who is very good and very experienced.

That is the reason I say adding the wide receiver in free agency is vital. If the Dolphins do it, they'll have a young QB but he'll be throwing to ready-made guys such as Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings and Brian Hartline -- hopefully all three! -- and have a choice of open, reliable, proven, big-time receivers.

Go through the draft and Tannehill will be throwing to guys who aren't sure about the speed of the game, are learning NFL defenses for the first time, are cross-eyed about playing 16 games and might hit the wall, and are unschoold about the veteran tricks of the trade. Worst of all, he may be throwing to guys that we eventually identify as busts.

Are the proven vets going to cost a lot? Heck yes. But it will cost less than 2009 when Miami put an offensive line on the field that cost $154 million in total contracts and that group scored, let's see, zero touchdowns.

The built from the inside out approach failed. NFL teams today don't pay the grunts. They pay the playmakers.

The Dolphins need playmakers. Wide receivers are playmakers. Wide receivers make their biggest impact when they have experience. The Dolphins have failed to identify receivers in the draft. Young quarterbacks are usually more apt to succeed if they have experienced wide receivers. The Dolphins have a young quarterback.

Is the puzzle coming together for you?

The Dolphins need to address the wide receiver position in free agency to maximize their chances of success. Period.

Comments

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First!!!

Second mofo's

there is no way they can afford to sign both wallace and jennings

Exactly, plus, there are no clear playmakers in this draft. In a NCAA world full of spread offenses, we have as good a chance hitting on one in the second round as we do in round one.

Would love to see us add a TE in FA, perhaps Heath Miller if he is available.

Parcells tried to build a team to win Super Bowl XXV, but that went out the window once they outlawed touching QB's and receivers. We need to become a passing team in a passing league.

Go Phins!!!

NiggaPlease

They Must sign 2 WR free agents + 1 TE, and draft 2 more-I'm tired of hearing what we can't afford and spending all our money on OL + DL who aren't any good-learn from the winners!

Bottom line this organization is too damn clueless and behind the times, ignorant dolphins fans and most of you are very ignorant I might add, do you really trust J.Ireland with 46.5 mil in cap space and 12 draft picks 5 in the top 82 really ignorant dolphins fan really ? Good luck with that ignorant dolphins fan !!

You need to find receivers that match the skill set of the quarterback. Rookie or vet...match the skill set or RT.

Good article and i was laughing a lot thinking about your punt that we need an SEMINAL draft hahahah...you are rigth with need c...

Mando, true but i have to say they know it, they got BM in FA; the trick is in assessing how a player would fit in your team in all aspects i.e. skills, attitude, dollars, etc. I hope JP really has a big say about who to draft, he seems to know exactly what competencies each position must have in his system!

DRAFT KEENAN ALLEN FOR SURE.

SIGN WALLACE AND JENNINGS.

LIKE I SAID I WOULD LET HARTLINE GO. HE's NOT A PLAYMAKER.

YOU CAN GROOME ALLEN AND HE IS A BETTER PLAYMAKER THEN WALLACE HARTLINE AND JENNINGS.

HE CATCH THE BALL AND FIGHTS FOR A TOUCHDOWN.

I YOU TUBED HIM RIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS.

SO IMPRESSED.

I WOULD BE SO UPSET IF WE DIDN't GET HIM.

Armando,

Jennings is no longer worth paying up for now. Bowe = Marshall, Wallace is the only one I see, BUT....Wallace is no alpha receiver and never will be.

This is not the best FA for WR and it isn't the best draft to have so many picks.

Just our luck.

im all for jennings...maybe even finley...heck, lets take half the pack..lol...we really need a good DE and if any good CB's are available...grab em..sure you can build in the draft..but we need playmakers now. and i believe wallace is a waste. if we want a winning season, lets grab some winning free agents. GO FINZ.

COME ON MAN YALL ARE CRAZY NO PLAYMAKER HAVE U SEEN TAVON AUSTIN OR PATTERSON FROM TENNESSE JUST GO TO YOUTUBE PLEASE. YES ONE VET WR WOULD BE GOOD BUT THREE COME ON

If I was your g.m. I would trade for P.Harvin the second the clock hits midnight on Tuesday March 12.th. 2.nd I would sign G.Jennings 3.rd I would sign te J.Cook and 4.th I would draft the db from Alabama at 12 or trade down and take the wr from Tennessee who is climbing fast with pro scouts. Miami dolphins fans face it your franchise is very irrelevant and is a joke among the nfl community. You have no stars to speak of. Your best players are a cfl p.rusher P K a fat a**
broken down Lt that's really not saying much about your sorry a** franchise. Parcells didn't even give M.Ryan an interview that really speaks volumes how backwards&pathetic your franchise really is !! It's so comical its ridiculously sad ignorant dolphins fans !!

This is why jake long has to go. In order to free up enough cap space to sign multiple impact free agents, we can't afford to pay him 8-10 mil a year. Sign the playmakers on offense in free agency and replace long or move Martin over and replace martin with a tackle taken in the first or second round costing us a Mil or less plus bonus.

We have to get Wallace or Jennings!! No question. I would ever draft Allen if we got Wallace or Jennings in the first.

Finley, I don't see it. This is a Philbin's call!! I would rather see a top TE taken in the draft.

CB is a major position we have to take care of. I would draft 3 if we could. Sean Smith should NOT be signed back!!! Period!!

You don't pay an avg CB top money because your afraid to lose him to FA. Let him go!!

Totally agree although it failed big time with Henne and Marshall

This will be an interesting off season for sure.

I hope Ireland can execute his plan.

These scouts better earn their pay this year.

I don't know that I agree with you on this whole "The winner approach is... if you have a young quarterback, you are better off giving him experienced, talented receivers to ease the sting of his growth." spiel. The Bengals sucked for decades. They drafted A.J. Green and then drafted Andy Dalton. Dalton and Green helped put them into the playoffs in back to back years.

Now, regarding Keenan Allen, I'm not impressed. I like DeAndre Hopkins in the 2nd round a lot more.

You guys know your man K.Sims on that crap a** internet show phinsiders and claimed this team really have playmakers on this current roster. Wow you talking about getting paid to be a homer Wow !! The kid Patterson from Tennessee is the big draft day sleeper ignorant dolphins fan.

JUSTIN CREDIBLE, sign Wallace, but you can't let Hartline go. Jennings will be 30 next year and on the downside of his career. Do you even know how Jennings performed this year, probably not. This is what he did, 36 receptions, 366 yards, 10.2 per reception, Hartline was 74 receptions, 1083 yards, 14.6 per reception. Who's the playmaker, who would you take from that line.

Take the tight end from Notre Dame, he will create natural mismatches in coverage, and will make the wide receivers around him better. Do not overpay for people who are not going to be major contributors.

Clam, thank goodness someone on this blog knows something about these receivers. People don't realize that as receivers get older their skill diminish, along with their skill.

Everyone gives the Dolphins crap for having a losing season. Actually this season was alot better than expected after watching the preseason. So the Dolphins were 7 - 9, but they were 2 missed field goals from being 9 - 7. Actually, they could have been 10 - 6 if not for a dropped interception against the Colts. Russell Wilson did have a better season than Ryan Tannehill, but did he did beat the Seahawks. As for the recievers, Rishard Matthews was a 7th round pick and he did well for a rookie wide reciever. He can only get better with more experience.

Building from the inside out always works, but we still need playmakers. The dolphins were so bad it took 4 years to make the team strong enough to be a contender. We can now add playmakers and we have Philbin, who had some say over who Green Bay drafted. I think he will be a great help in identifying receivers that can help us. This is the year we take the next step. Go Dolphins

Nahh, we don't want this crap borderline pro-Bowler WRs here,we want future HOF'ers. I see no HOFer WR in this years FAs, but I see some available in this year's Draft.

Get one of the fa then get Allen and or Austin, Robinson or the kid from Texas. We need some speed and quickness to get big plays. I agree Ireland does not know how to draft receivers. He likes size or speed. We need speed and quicks with fearlessness that can catch with hteir hands not body.

Not to be one of those annoying stats guys, but these last 4 seasons are NOT the worst 4 in franchise history.

1966 - 1969 15 39 .278
2004 - 2007 20 44 .313
2006 - 2009 25 39 .391
2007 - 2010 26 38 .406
1967 - 1970 22 32 .407
2005 - 2008 27 37 .422
2009 - 2012 27 37 .422

Nothing to write home about, and your point is still valid.

mace taggart is a F%#*ing troll! Notice how I used lower case letters for your name? Little letters for a little man. Get back on your Jets website and stay the hell off ours, RETARD!

I also realize that 4 of those are heavily influenced by the 1 - 15 season in 2007. Still, they also include 2008's 1 season rebound.

Dan Marino in 1983 had veteran recievers in Nat Moore and Jimmy Cefalo plus he had Veteran Tight Ends Joe Rose and Bruce Hardy to throw to.

Plus Marino has a veteran offensive line and Tony Nathen out of the backfield.

I have NEVER seen a WR with the overall unreal ability that Sammy Watkins has. The RG3 of WRs. Too bad he's a sophomore in College.

guess u missed calvin at gt oscar. fins def should least sign one of the 3 in jennings, wallace,bowe. i prefer wallace

This guy leaves Calvin in his dust, dusty. But of the elegible ones there are 2 100m champs and one very quick WRs, with excellent separations skills, great hands and huge YAC %, of course.

Amen Armando!

I believe that, same as last year was the QBs, this is the year of the WRs(and DEs). And we have a need for both.

Armando,

Three WR's in FA would kill the cap space we have when we have a lot more positions to address. FA are usually players that are too expensive to keep or who are not pulling their load. In the later part of the year, Clay, Moore, Matthews and Binn were playing quite well, along with Bess, Hartline and Fasano . One good FA WR and TE along with a high Draft WR would be what we need for Philbin to spread the ball and find mismatches along with a lot of rotations in and out of the line to keep the players fresh for a fast paced game.

Of the elegible TEs, Ertz appears the best of them to me. Of course, as the Senior Bowl and the combine and private workouts approach, things will become more clear regarding these great College Athletes future in the NFL.

Just for the record the 49ers have 3-4 former first round picks on their OL. They did however NOT pass on Kapernick like the Dolphins did. The Seahawks did NOT pass on Wilson like the Dolphins did.

Terrible FA receivers, they are all about 55 years old.

Since Wilson was a 3rd rounder and Kap a 2nd rounder, a lot of team passed on them at least twice.

My Mock Offseason:

Free Agents to resign - Bush, Long, Fasano, Hartline, Garner
Free Agents to let go - Starks, Smith, Clemmons, McDaniel
Use $11 - $13m remaining to sign - #1 WR and #1 TE

Draft:
#1 DE or CB
#2 CB or DE
#3 CB
#3 S
#4 LB
#5 G
#6 LB
#7 OL or DL

Anyone advocating using our current crop of receivers added by a couple of draft picks are looney and committed to mediocrity. Receivers SCORE TDs. Which is the whole point of the offense. Along with TE, that's the most important positions to address which can get us over the .500 hump.

However Mando, your post, if accurate, brings up another disturbing issue (which I'm sure Kris and others will pounce on). Miami HAS been dreadful when drafting for the WR position (I'd add TE to that as well). What's that say about Ireland's ability to evaluate talent? At least in those positions? Is this the guy Ross is entrusting to bring a Playoff-caliber team here? Look, I'm the guy who wants some consistency in the front office, I don't want change. And I'm not on the "fire Ireland" bandwagon.

But posts like these make me wonder. Is this guy capable of getting us what we need?

Completely agree that getting the #1 WR in Free Agency is the priority. Followed by #1 TE.

We can debate who is the prime WR target to pursue. But lets face it...Wallace, Jennings and Bowe are all going to make our existing WR corp better. As long as we don't overpay, I'd be happy to add any of them to the team.

jeff that isnt true, every team passed on both those players

Playmakers Needed.....Playmakers Needed.....If you are a NFL playmaker please inquire here.

WR's
TE's
CB's
S's
DE's

These are the primary playmakers that this team currently lacks. We need to keep Bush and Miller in place so that we don't create a void at RB. We need to keep Bess and Hartline and add a true #1 WR. We need to keep Fasano and add #1 TE. We need to get rid of Smith, Marshall and Clemons to find CB's and S's who can create INT's. We need to move Odrick to DT full-time and add a dominant pass rushing DE to help Wake create more sacks and fumbles.

DC,

I appreciate the concern you raise around the past busts at TE and WR. Reality is though that Ireland learned from Tuna and they never liked using #1 picks on WR's. Ireland instead used #1's on Long, Pouncey, and THILL. So, now is the first time where WR is the glaring need and they have the opportunity to use $ in Free Agency and/or use #1 to pick a WR.

My strong vote is to get proven talent at WR and TE to fill the #1 positions. I do think Bess, Hartline, Bush and Fasano are very solid and proven players. But they are not dominant. So, if they stay and we add #1 WR and #1 TE we can really surround TE with a proven veteran squad and this bolstered offense would score points.

I'd like to see how they figure it all out this offseason. I am pretty excited about the potential of this offseason and I really think Ireland/Philbin are going to figure it out.

along with Wallace, take a WR in the 2 or 3 round, not at #12. We should focus on the secondary IMO. get rid of smith once and for all.

GO DOLPHINS!!!

These FA WRs all have holes and carry huge pricetags. But True, we need 1 of those. I would go after Jennings for x reasons including price.

if that corner from bama is there at 12 pull the trigger

Mando Jennings, Wallace and Hartline?

That's a terrible way to spend your cap space as far as Im concerned. I definitely want a free agent WR but just 1 of the top guys. Spend other money on other areas of need and don't spend all of the cap space in 1 offseason if you don't have to.

Pre free agency - Resign Brian Hartline. He's a good, steady, reliable WR. He's not a redzone threat but he's a good player to have at a reasonable price.

Free Agency - MIKE WALLACE! He's a difference maker without even catching a pass. You have to play a safety over the top or your asking to get burnt for a big play. He's a very good player who is a play maker.

Draft - Use an early draft pick on a play maker who again doesn't command a high salary because of the new draft salary slotting. Use a #1 or #2 on Cordarelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, Keenan Allen or a #2 on Robert Woods or TE Zach Ertz, Tyler Eifert.

This isn't fantasy and a third of your cap can't be invested in the WR position. It's bad business.

One of the reasons we got to the Playoffs in 2008 besides Pennington was David Martin stretching the Field. True.

Armando, everything you say is absolutely true...But you'll see, the usual idiots will post: "Giving millions of dollars to WRs is not the way to build a team and bla bla bla bla bla..."LOL!!

How is BJ Cunningham a bust? Spent his rookie year on the Eagles practice squad. This obviously doesn't make him a star but calling him a bust is ignorant and premature. Grant it I don't exactly have high hopes for him, but using him to make your point is grasping at straws. Davone Bess has been pretty damn good too by the way and I noticed you failed to mention him alongside Hartline.

Dolphin Montreal,

What's up bro?

Give Millions and season tickets to Mike Wallace but 2 big time free agents plus Hartline is a lot. Now if they let Hartline go and went Jennings and Wallaces that sounds good but you no way you can have all 3.

Season tickets to the Heat ^

We traded Brandon Marshall last year because our new coach HATES diva receivers...and I agree.

So, if Wallace is the best available FA/WR, how can Philbin be assured he won't turn into a diva once he arrives in South Fla?

You don't....but you take the chance anyway.

I'll take a proven commodity (Wallace)over an "Ireland Acorn" (Egnew)any day.

Armando, we can't tie up all our money on two wr's. I don't think the Fins go and get Wallace and Jennings. Maybe the Fins get 1 but I highly doubt they get both. Both of those guys will break the bank. Remember, the reason why the Fins have been so awful these past seasons is because they didn't manage the cap well. The Fins need to build through the draft. I mean don't you cover them and know anything? In 2009 Bill had a lot of cap space and screwed this team for the next 4 seasons because he over spent on bad players. C'mon man you should know that to have success for the long term you build through the draft and don't overspend on free agents. Ireland has his first chance (without Bill) to not screw it up. Miami has a lot of cap space...now let's hope he doesn't screw up. Armando...get a clue!!! Go look at all the successful teams that have had long term success...they all built through the draft. The key word is long term success Armando. Gee, it sounds like you want Miami to do the same crappy job as they have in the past of not managing the cap and overpaying for players. If they do this...you will be talking about how bad they are for another 4 seasons. Is that what you want? I applaud Ireland for NOT overpaying for Flynn...that was brilliant. He got that right...let's just hope Ireland can continue this and be on point on who to spend money on and who not to spend money on. Go Fins!!!

NHFINSFAN,

It was the crazyness not the diva attitude that turned Philbin off with Marshall. We saw it first hand on Hard Knocks when Chad Johnson was sent packing. I think any coach wants a stud WR.

As far as him getting paid and becoming a prima donna? That's a risk with every single player in the league just about.

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