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Dolphins history with free agency? Not great

I did an impromptu live chat on twitter today during lunch. If you are not following me, please do so now to add to your Dolphins fan experience.

Anyway, during the chat someone asked me my opinion of the best unrestricted free agent the Dolphins ever signed.

So I went to my trusty media guide and looked at the names through the years starting in 1992 and was honestly saddened by how few truly impactful players this team has signed in free agency.

Now, there have been some good ones. There have been guys signed that started for several years. But great additions?


Far between.

Before running through the names, let me identify what an unrestricted free agent is. We're not counting street free agents because that's another category altogether. Cameron Wake would be classified as a street free agent because he was in the CFL and then made his services available to all NFL teams.

We're also not counting undrafted rookie free agents. Those are another classification separate from unrestricted veteran free agents.

I'm talking about players whose contracts expired with their NFL teams and now are free to shop their services with the remaining teams around the league -- a system that started in earnest in 1992.

Oddly, Miami's first dive into free agency was among its best. Tight end Keith Jackson signed in '92 and was a good player. But his time with Miami lasted a mere 42 games. Three seasons from October of 1992 through the '94 season made Jackson stay all too short. By the end of '94 he was talking about retiring and so Don Shula traded him in the offseason to Green Bay.

Granted, Jackson was better than any tight end Miami has had since that time. But his best season came in 1994 when he caught 59 passes for 673 yards and seven touchdowns. So he was very good, but his Miami time was shortlived.

He was replaced by another free agent tight end signing. Remember Eric Green? Yeah, terrible. He lasted one season in which he missed 39 practices. Yikes.

Keith Byars was solid, but again, he only lasted three full seasons.

Gene Atkins was a nightmare, Fred Barnett was a bust, as was Charles Jordan. Other WR busts in free agency? James McKnight, Derrius Thompson, Az-Zahir Hakeem (aka Az Hakeem), and Legedu Naanee.

Now, some good players did arrive. Don't think I'm saying free agency has been worthless.

Brock Marion and Kevin Donnalley were the only two signed in 1998 by Jimmy Johnson and both started and played well for a few years. Rich Owens came as an afterthought of sorts in 1999 and led the team with 8.5 sacks that year before falling off the map.

Jay Fiedler was a hard-nosed, hard-working, smart quarterback. But he was a game-manager. Can't say he was a bad addition. But you can't say he was the answer.

The 2008 free agent class brought Randy Starks and he's been excellent. But that class also included busts Keith Davis, Sean Ryan, Chris Crocker, and Justin Smiley. A pause here: I know many of you will say Smiley was not a bust. You'll contend he simply got hurt.

Well, the facts are Smiley signed a five-year contract and lasted only two. And he finished both those years on injured reserve. And he came to the Dolphins with an injury history and that history got longer in Miami. And I remind you, as I always do, that durability is a key critical factor in judging players.

So the Dolphins didn't get the length of years or durability they wanted out of Smiley. He didn't solve their problems for the time they expected. And the shoulder that was a problem in San Francisco was not surprisingly a problem in Miami.

Meanwhile, Jake Grove came in 2009. Same issue. Same result. Came with injury history from Oakland. Everyone pointed it out. Dolphins said it wasn't an issue. It became an issue.

Karlos Dansby and Richie Incognito came in 2010. Both good starters. Good job.

Kevin Burnett came in 2011. Another good starter signed for much cheaper than what Dansby got yet plays at about the same level. Very good job.

Then 2012 was worthless. Gary Guyton. Cut. Artis Hicks, Cut. Tyrell Jackson. Cut. Richard Marshall. Injured. Naanee. Cut. Jamal Westerman. Cut.

I can see why many of you are leery of free agency. I can see why many doubt this front office's ability to significantly improve the team in free agency. But ...

I remind you the players the club signed last year were basically stopgaps. None were expensive. So the Dolphins basically got what they paid for -- not much.

If the club dives into free agency this offseason, It'll be going into the deep end. That means Miami will be trying to add legitimate playmakers such as Mike Wallace. He won't be cheap. But his price won't be, either.

What happens as far as landing him or not? Well, the club's history for getting the player it really wants needs a reversal. The Dolphins really wanted Peyton Manning. Didn't get him. The club wanted Ryan Clark. Didn't get him.

I'm told the Dolphins will try to land Wallace.

We'll see.



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It's a dud draft. Trade your picks for next year if you can.

In the case of Wallace, I believe the Steelers want him but their already paying one WR $10 million a year and their over the cap.

Dolfan Rick | February 14, 2013 at 06:48 PM

Not exactly the case if you read the deal he signed, it is a 6Yr./42.5Mil deal but is heavily backloaded to help the CAP strapped Steelers.

Remember signing bonuses are spread out through the life of the contract so the 8 Mil. he got when he signed is spread out getting $540K in base in 2012 with an actual base of 4 Mil. with about 2 Mil of his signing bonus in 2013 making him a CAP friendly number.

It escalates to around 10 Mil a Yr. in 2016 with an average of 6 per till then. The Steelers offered this deal originally to Wallace and he turned it down wanting more up front Cash. They played hardball with him and decided to go with Brown but I feel Wallace is better.

I do however agree with you 100% about some CAP casualties not being necessarily problems as much as business decisions.

That LB we signed Today, training camp fodder.

sad part les is it really is a very bad draft

For our No 1 I am leaning toward Oregon OLB Dion Jordan, not sold on Barkevious Mingo.

Dion Jordan a great Athlete a la JT they use him everywhere, rush, pass , very strong also. Maybe,dave, but we would prefer some help for RT.


Im back.

I would sign Jennings and draft a wr 1st or 2nd rd to be my future #1 wr. I would start him rightaway at the #2 wr. Jennings gives me a reliable true #1 wr for a couple seasons while my rookie is gaining valuable nfl experience.

Then next year(2014) I would draft my #2 wr going forward into the future. Using no less than a 2nd rd pick on him.

Then 3yrs down the road both my drafted #1 ad #2 wr's should be ready to explode. Jenning will have finished his 3yr contract I signed him to.

thanks fin4life,

I was actually going by what a friend who's a steeler fan told me. He actually thinks the Steelers may be heading for somewhat of a rebuild mode. Their front 7 is aging and their O-line has been injury plagued.

I'm not sure how much they would try to match on Wallace although they did match our offer on Ryan Clark a few years ago.

I understand Oscar but I think if we can grab a good PR we need to. In concept we won't have this chance again assuming we win more games. We passed on JPP two years ago. I believe WR and OT in round two and address CB and WR1 in free agency.

All I'm saying is that whomever we pickup in FA, we have to make triple sure that he's a salary cap casualty and not a discard.

i can agree with that oscar


We cant draft olb's unless we're looking to replace Misi or Burnett. We changed to the 4-3 defense remember?

So if drafting a pass rusher, we need to look at drafting true pass rush DE's, not olbs. Olbs are primarily run stop ad coverage guys in the 4-3 defense.

And yet the Ireland FanBoyz refuse to even modify their absurd defense - - nay, love - - of Water Boy.

No, no, YG, Dion is a DE, he just drops back in coverage on occassions as they have assigned him. He can rush the passer. 6'7", 245.

Of course, there are great DEs this year in the Draft, even a guy from Estonia, shotput, discus champion who appears to be a total Beast.


Even though it would be great to have another pass rush beast to Wake right now. We only averaged 19 ppg scoring last season.

Even if we had 2 great pass rushers, exactly how does that help us:

A.) Greatly Improve Our Scoring?
B.) Greatly Points Allowed?

This years playoffs greatly showed 2 things:

1.) Playoff offenses can easily score 30pts Or More.
2.) Even against Defenses With 2 Great Pass Rushers

So what does drafting a pass rusher 1st rd really solve when the playoffs proved it really doesnt matter?

However, this year's playoffs and sb did prove in today's nfl you had better be able to sore points and score them in droves. Right?


Cam Wake is 260lbs and 3 inches shorter than Dion Jordan. 245lbs is very light for playing DE even in the 4-3 defense.

If Wake is 6'3 260lbs, then at 6'7 245lbs Jordan looks like a beanpole in comparison. Nfl olines would have a field day running the ball right at him. That would tire him out an begain to effect his pass rush ability too.

It really doesnt matter what they do. As long as Ireland is the GM, ... next year they'll stink again.


Ideally, in the 4-3 defense, you want your pass rush DE's no lighter than 260lbs and no heavier than 280lbs.

Any lighter or any heavier, he had better be on helluva gifted super athlete.

It probably wouldn't hurt to mention that even though Ireland said we need to improve our pass rush he also said he expects big things from Vernon next season.

They may not have any intention of adding a DE in free agency or high in the draft.

I'm not a big stats guy but I don't believe we were terrible in the pass rush department. Better than middle of the pack i think.

Boy, can Vaccaro hit and has tremendous range. A smaller Kuechly at S. However no supergreat ball-hawking skills. Still, if there is not a big playmaker for T-Hill available, I would take him at #12. Instant impact Player.

I'm not sure how much they would try to match on Wallace although they did match our offer on Ryan Clark a few years ago.

Dolfan Rick | February 14, 2013 at 07:19 PM

I believe they are in re-build mode, the Clark thing was a different situation with them still in perennial contention before age and the CAP finally got them.

You know an interesting player to me they're cutting is Mendenhall who I feel still has alot of upside. They went this Yr. with some kid who runs like a battering ram and a burner named Dyer in their run game burying Mendenhall but he could be a nice addition going with Miller next Yr. as well, just spit balling but I wouldn't mind giving that a try with Thomas probably on his last legs with us and Reggie looking for his pay day in an O he doesn't seem to fit.


Jason Taylor was 6'6 245lb DE, but he was a special-special player.

Now, ontherhand, because of his side coming out of college. JJ drafted Taylor 3rd rd. Taylor lasted that long, not because teams doubted his talent, it was his smallish size. If he didnt quite pan out because of his smallis size, the risk was tempered by selecting him 3rd. Pretty much the same with Zach Thomas.

Now with Dion Jordan, you draft him first rd and he doesnt pa out because of size, then Houston you have a grave problem.

Major problem with Dion is he still raw in his pass rushing tecnique, YG, he was a TE 2 yrs ago, however, he is very strong. Huge upside for whoever gets him.


All I know about Vaccaro is the offseason stuff coming in on him. However, if he hits loke a Mack truck, at times that results in fumbles.

It also results in some incomplete passes because the cowardly wr's coming over the middle will be looking for him. Especially if he's already laid the real wood to some wr coming over the middle during that game.

Vicious hit6ting free safeties make wr's think twice about catching the ball coming over the middle. Even if they dont get a ton of ints.

If Wake is 6'3 260lbs, then at 6'7 245lbs Jordan looks like a beanpole in comparison. Nfl olines would have a field day running the ball right at him. That would tire him out an begain to effect his pass rush ability too.

Yesterday's Gone 4Ever! | February 14, 2013 at 07:40 PM

It depends on the athlete and commitment, JT was a 6'6"/245 Pound DE out of Akron when JJ drafted him. If you remember he did get run over early and was prone to injury but worked his weight into the 260-270 range and NEVER looked back. There was a time Kenny Mixon and Lo Bromell were the run DE's and he was strictly pass rush. I've seen Jordan sparingly but seems the type of athlete who could put on the 25 to 30 pounds and play not saying he's the answer and agree with you about the pos. in list of needs but we've seen this type of athlete before blossom with time.

Posted by: fin4life | February 14, 2013 at 07:48 PM

I've been saying before we let Bush walk we better sign a veteran of some sort for depth. Thomas hasn't shown he can be dependable at all.

Their saying that Mendenhall isn't the same since his injury but sometimes it takes time for them to get past the mental part of a serious injury like that.

Posted by: oscar canosa | February 14, 2013 at 07:55 PM

Right now we're developing Vernon at pass rush DE. He was only a 3rd rd pick. So we dot need to develop a 1st rd pick(Jordan). If we select a pass rush DE at #1, he had better have a pass rush impact right away.

We dont need to talk him up to the ceiling, if anything, talk him down.


I'm not understanding why you say drafting Dion at 12 and not having him turn out is a 'major problem'. It no different than whoever we draft at 12. No guarantee any of them work out. The money teams have to play their first rounder is WAY, WAY less what it used to be. Dion at 12 is WORTH the risk, assuming that's the direction they want to go. Pass rusher at 12 is most definitely still a need, with Starks moving on and Odrick moving inside.

YG, take a look at Kenny on you tube. If you like hitting you'll enjoy Vaccaros play.


I would hate to spend a 1st rd pick on a situational pass rusher either. Thats just not good value.

If I need a situational pass rusher I would sign Dwight Freeney in fa to a mid-level fa contract. At this stage of his career he may be perfect for it.

You know, they said a lot of that kind of stuff about JPP before he came out. 'Too raw', 'not strong enough'.

Jordan at 12 might turn out to be a great pick. There's not a person on here who wouldn't like to have JPP on their team today.

Who on earth said draft Dion at #12? I only answered dave that I think he will be a good Player. My pick, up to now, is Kenny Vaccaro.


Jason Taylor is Jordons physical clone cming out of college. JJ didnt draft Taylor 1st rd because of size. Even 2nd rd. But when Taylor was still there with our "13th pick" of the 3rd rd. JJ had a woodie and it wasnt because of "EXTENDS".

At least knowing Taylor was smallish for a pass rush 4-3 DE, JJ waited 3rd rd to draft him to temper risk. Just becase Taylor turned out well at that size doesnt make Jordan an automatic.

Also, if you drafed a true size 4-3 DE 1st rd and he didnt workout, at least it was justifiable suicide. Gambling on that size 1st rd isnt.

I'll be surprised if a 4-3 team takes Jordan 1st rd. Maybe a 3-4 team will. At his size, he makes far more sense as a pass rush olb in a 3-4 defense.

Did you see Kenny hit, YG? He hits almost as hard as I virtually hit you here.


WTH? JPP? He was 6'5 280lbs and rated a "superfreak" athlete coming out of college. I have no idea youre using him as an comparison to Dion Jordan.

They are so totally 2 different conversations and weight classificationa.


Im going to google Vaccaro youtube right now ok?

How about Vaccaro, YG. Yes? No?

ok. I'm glad.

"Nah, oscar, he's too small and slow", YG.

No other posters here while YG looks up Vaccaro?



Looked at his senior highlights and he's the kind of guy an offense feels every game.

Then, played his junior highlights, he had a play he totally leaped over the the bloking rb to sack the qb.

At that point, I just had to turn the damm tape off, lol. Vaccaro is a f u c king beast!


Thats the kind of guy every defense needs. A guy you feel his presense every f u c king game! LOL...


Count me in on the Vaccaro bandwagon. You have completely sold me. LOL...

Glad you liked it. Now, is he worth our #12, YG?

Jordan at 12 might turn out to be a great pick. There's not a person on here who wouldn't like to have JPP on their team today.

Craig M | February 14, 2013 at 08:08 PM

Watching the HEAT game and just caught this and your comparison is off. For starters JPP was all of 6'5"/280 Pds. running a 4.6/40 His bench reps were low but the upside was there big time and after watching his freakish 50 yards worth of non-stop backflips at the combine down a football field I was thinking Jevon Kearse before the injuries.


I'll put it this way, I would like to trade down with the #12 and pickup another 2nd rd pick. But if Ireland used it on Vaccaro I would not be mad at all. LOL...

Posted by: fin4life | February 14, 2013 at 08:38 PM

I told CraigM the exact same thing you just told him. I'm also watching the Heat/Thunder game too. LOL...

He might be there at #12, YG, he might not. Other People are not blind. Like you said, not too many receivers like to go against the Pollards, do they?

Now they just signed CFL Lee Robinson.

OMG, it's gonna be another long off season, scraping the bottom of the barrel.

New management is the only hope, and I mean ONLY hope.


Actually there are maybe about 3-4 players tha wouldnt anger me with the #12 pick. Vaccaro is the first defensive player on that list.

The others are Hopkins, Eiffert, Patterson. They are reaches at #12, but I dont think any of these guys will be close to bust.

I dont want to reach at #12 for a pass rusher. Especially a pass rusher that was undersized coming in. Not with the 12th pick when we could have had a very good offensive player or Vaccaro.

Every player looks great on youtube highlights. Its highlights. LOL. You dont see the bad plays the guy made. Youtube is a terrible way to pick players.

Heat 32 Thunder 17, end of 1st qtr. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!

Ross loves cheap scrubs.

To me, Vaccaro is the closest of not being a reach, YG. At #12, you must select a Star or close to it.


So true. But what I was looking for was voracity of his(Vaccaro) hits, angles taken, and does he seem to be in good position to make a play even when the reciever catches the ball.

He has ability to separate the recievers from the ball on hits to cause incompletes. Also, when he hits the reciever or ball carrier's foward progress seems to stop.

Those are what I primarily look for in safety play. Not just the ooo's and ahhhs.


Like I saod, I would not feel disappointed if we selected Vaccaro at #12. I feel Ireland wont because its reported Hartline and Clemons are the only 2 of our fa's Ureland's trying to sign before they become available to hit the open market.

Ireland loves .500 non-championship, non-playoff teams.

I could see Vaccaro is not a great ball-hawk, Sense, but as YG said, he causes separation in WRs and RBs, from the ball. Jesus.

Like I saod, I would not feel disappointed if we selected Vaccaro at #12.

Posted by: Yesterday's Gone 4Ever! | February 14, 2013 at 08:56 PM

This is coming from the same guy who only two weeks ago made a mockery of anyone suggesting not drafting an offensive player with the first two picks.

YGerkoff has gone from endless Teo love, to saying drafting anything but offense was plain stupid, to now say he is good with drafting D first.

What a head case. If he was a girl he'd change his hair color every day!

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