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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?

Few.

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.

 

Comments

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Oscar,

You still up? Go to sleep bro!!

All I know is this, Uncle Jeffy needs to have multiple back-up plans between FA, the draft, and signing back our players.

I really hope that when the draft ends and these so called experts grade Miami out to an A+ plus draft. Even though it means nothing, it still would be nice to hear some positives.

With the 2nd youngest team, we still need to build through the draft. Add a few key pieces in FA and sign back our guys, we should be fine.

The development of Tannehill is the most important. Being able to block for him, and WR getting open. I was sick all year of hearing about Luck, RG3, and Wilson, and nothing about our guy. He should be pissed too.

Tannehill should have a chip on his shoulder about not being in conversation with those guys period!! If he doesn't, then we have a problem. PRIDE!!

KC is now seeking a deal with Bowe. Which means if he signs with them the market for #1 WR's is going to shrink and the Wallace price tag will go up. Who's ready to pay Wallace more than the 55 mil that Jackson got? I'm beginning to think this isn't going to work out.

Kris, what are you saying, I don't think you know yourself. Facts are indications of performance. If you catch 74 passes for over a thousand yards, that's your performance, and you should be able to maintain that performance until you physically decline. if a receiver averages 13 yard/reception it's worse than 14.6 yard/reception. That's why we keep stats. And yes stats are predictor of performance. Like it or not.

Let's face it fans,the NFL draft, as well as free agency, is a "crap shoot" at best.Players that have had great careers with other team that becme free agents are not always great when they get the big bucks from a new team. ie; Mario Williams was great in Houston and was horrible last year with the Bills after signing a 100 mil. contract.How about Albert Haynesworth? grat in Tenn.,and look what happened after the Redskins gave him all of that guaranteed money. He was cut, and then signed with the Pat's and was cut!! So the signing of any free agent does not come with a sure fire guarantee. Just sayin

I'm guessing that if Jeff Ireland has a "PLAN," like he recently said he was working from, that his earliest target year for a Superbowl would be 2015. Working backwards, that would allow the team to get deep into the playoffs in 2014 and at least have the team make- or strongly contend- for the playoffs in 2013. A Superbowl team targeted for 2016 instead allows for a little more breathing room and places the Philbin/Ireland team on a 5-year plan.

For a moment, forget the talk- including his own ambiguous comments- about 2013 being a make or break year for Ireland. If he is working under a 5-year Philbin/Ireland plan, he has the time to steadily build the team. I'm not saying he has a long leash certainly, his history doesn't justify that kind of support.

But if he has the time to truly build the team, why would he take big risks in FA in 2013? To try and put fans in the stands? -to get stadium upgrade funds? -to try and please fans by making a big leap from 2012s team to 2013s? None of this seems reasonable enough to encumber a team's GM, who's primary function is simply personnel acquisition.

That said, wouldn't foundation pieces rather than facade upgrades be the way to go in FA 2013? Football is still man-on-man, where my guy beats your guy. My team needs to be filled with players like that if I am to be comfortable about winning a championship. These are the guys that the Dolphins have been so sadly lacking over the years.

Putting all your eggs in the Wallace basket? Not so fast. There will be quite a few teams looking for a #1 WR. So money is going to talk. Wallace isn't going to come here just for the warm weather and state taxes. Maybe Jennings will be the only option we have unless the team is ready to pay a record breaking deal.

Lotta love for Brock Marion but the guy I thought was the mad dog was Brian Walker -- that guy was a play making machine and hit like a mack truck.

Think he came from the Lions \.

THE PROBLEM WITH THE WR IN THE FA ARE SIMPLY THIS.

HARTLINE IS THE BEST OF THE WORST.

SOME MAY LOOK AT HIS YPC BUT FAIL TO LOOK AT HIS YAC OR TDs.

HE GOES TO THE GROUND FASTER THAN GINN GET OUT OF BOUNDS.


WALLACE IS A DEEP GUY.

BUT SEEMS TO BE MOSTLY THAT.

HE's FAST BUT I DON't SEE HIM GO ACROSS THE MIDDLE MUCH.

JENNINGS IS THE MOST COMPLETE WR OF THE BUNCH.

HOWEVER HE's 30 AND COMING OFF A GROIN INJURY.

NO WAY THAT CAN BE GOOD.

BOWE HAS DONE MORE WITH LESS.

HE WAS THE BIGGEST WEAPON IN KC AND PRODUCED.

BUT HE SEEMS REALLY SLOW HOWEVER HE DOES GET OPEN.

SOME SAY HE's A HEAD CASE BUT HE CAN JUST BE GETTING TIRED OF LOSING.

WHAT TO DO WHAT TO DO.

THE BEST THING I THINK IS TO GET RID OF ALL OUR WRs AND START OVER WITH A FRESH GROUP.

YEAH AS ROOKIES THEY WILL STRUGGLE BUT THEY WILL COME TO AND WE WILL BE BETTER FOR IT IN THE LONG RUN.

I STILL LIKE GETTING 3 WRs WITH OUR FIRST 3 PICKS.

ALLEN HOPKINS HUNTER

ALLEN PATTERSON AUSTIN

PATTERSON HOPKINS HUNTER

ALLEN HUNTER ROGERS.

SO MANY OPTIONS.

THERE ARE ABOUT 10 WRs THAT ARE REALLY GOOD.

5 OF THEM THAT CAN BE GREAT AND MAYBE EVEN PRO BOWLERS.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS WE UPGRADE AT OUR BIGGEST NEED AND AT A CHEAPER PRICE.

WE GET ALL 3 LESS THAN 5 MILLION CAN't BEAT THAT.

I KNOW IT SOUNDS CRAZY AND IT NEVER BEEN DONE.

BUT IT SOUNDS SO CRAZY IT MIGHT ACTUALLY WORK.

Wallace, meh. Not impressed for the money he's expected to want.

I really want to see the team put the full court press on Michael Johnson from the Bengals. He'd immediately bolster a pass rush that is sorely lacking.

It does sound a bit nuts, the 3 WRs with the first 3 picks. Though if needs were taken care of in FA it might not be that far out there.

Though needs at OL and DB will probably command at least one of the top 3 picks. I could see them making a run on WRs in the second round.

If they told Armando they will try to land Wallace, then, It's true, or, It isn't. As simple as that. You find out.

This team was a couple plays away from the playoffs and to be in the same position next year with these draft picks and money for FA's would probably cost Ireland his job. This is now a what have done this year league and save the excuses with rookies playing so quickly now and the quick turnarounds teams make in todays NFL.

It does sound crazy but imaginative. This Offense has to be fixed and loaded with weapons in any case. Give me 2 WR and a TE though.

JCRED...you're promoting the idea of scrapping our entire WR corps and replace with 6 new guys.

That plan seems both drastic & desperate to me and one that would disrupt any team chemistry that was formed last season between Tannehill and his receivers.

We all know the timing between QB & WR is key to a successful aerial assault. Tannehill seemed to have good timing with both Hartline & Bess so you need to keep a stable group of receivers for your QB to rely on.

Do we have holes to fill...for sure! But don't toss out the baby with the bath water.

Do not overlook Matt Elam from the S position, also a vicious hitter(to the point of dirty) but also with ball-hawking skills. These rookie Ss this year, man, I'm telling you...

Still need a QB.

There will be a big run on all those Beastly DEs this year and that's where the Ireland Man will step in and draft a big time play-maker for Us. Expect it.

We also have Pat Devlin, Zonk. More accurate than Flacco while at Delaware.

Where is Craig Miller, where is Craig Miller.

Right here, oscar. What's up?

Good. So, what do you have to say about my comments this morning? Agree, disagree, neutral?

So Goldson might actually hit the market. If so I think he should be a target. Jones/Goldson would be a pretty good combo.

Sorry oscar, I missed what you were saying. DO I like a DE beast in the first round? Yeah I do. Do I like Elam? Yeah, I like him a lot. To me that would be a GREAT start to the draft for us, as well as a WR in the second. Great start, IMO.

We have plenty of Weapons this year, plenty of weapons, Craig.

oscar, we have ZERO playmakers if we let Bush leave.

Look it dat!, they are restoring the Maine Monument in Havana Harbour built in thanks to USA for helping us Cubans get rid of Spain's domination of the Island. Pretty soon, We, will be able to return to our Origins. In any case, solid bases are being set up for this Dolphins Franchice which will last many years.

Btw Oscar,

I live Vaccarro a lot too. Great hitter like you've mentioned. I just wonder if he isn't more of a SS than a FS. I'm not sure he catches enough balls to be a FS. But I like the kid an awful lot and I think he's going to be a good pro. Is he the RIGHT pick at 12? He should be in the mix, yeah.

you need at LEAST 3 playmakers to be a top team.

NHFINSFAN:

YES GET RID OF THEM ALL.

NO YOU DON't THROW OUT THE BABY WITH THE BATH WATER.

BUT IF THE CAR HAVE PROVING NOT TO WORK GET A NEW ONE.

HARTLINE IS NOT A PLAYMAKER.

WELKER IS NOT A PLAYMAKER.

BESS IS NOT A PLAYMAKER.

IF ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IS THE CATCH THEN ALL 3 ARE GREAT.

HOWEVER I WANT MORE.

CATCHING THE BALL IS THE JOB NOTHING GREAT.

WHAT THEY DO AFTER THAT IS WHERE THE MONEY's AT.

I'm ONE OF THE FIRST TO ARGUE STABILITY.

BUT NOT WITH B PLAYERS.

YES I'm CALLING WELKER A B PLAYER.

HANDS ARE RELIABLE A+

BUT WHAT HE DOES AFTER THE CATCH C-.

SAME GOES FOR HARTLINE AND BESS.

I LIKE ALL 3 BUT LOVE NON.

I LIKE WALLACE. JENNINGS AND BOWE BUT LOVE NON.

I LOVE MARSHALL, JOHNSON AND JOHNSON,(CALVIN AND ANDRE)

RICE, T.O., OCHO CINCO, CARTER, DUPER, CLAYTON, JULIO JONES, CRABTREE, RODDY WHITE, CRUZ, DEZ BRYANT, MILES AUSTIN, HERVIN, DENVER's THOMAS MACLINE AND JACKSON, VINCENT JACKSON,

WHO ON THIS LIST WILL YOU PUT HARTLINE OVER.

SHOULD I SAY MORE.

We have Wake, Zonk. Then, maybe Reshad. But yes we need, ?, maybe ? also.

But, yes, we need more O firepower. We absolutely need to determine who is the best O Playmaker in the Market OR in the Draft, then go and get him.

Wallace scores touchdowns...enough said

Zz

Wake doesnt score TD's, silly.

You certainly need somebody to shave the top of the D. May it be.

So you have to score TDs to be considered a playmaker? HUH? Who says that? So Aldon Smith isn't a playmaker? Ed Reed hasn't been a playmaker?

Wow....last I checked they play offence AND defence in the NFL. You're dead right, wallyfin, the Ravens didn't make any plays with the ball at the six yard line and the Niners having four cracks to score. What was I thinking?

HoHo!, NoSense.

Ed Reed does score some TD's and makes lots of INT's. Wake, not so much. But the Fins need playmakers on offense. Guys that can score TD"s . Take it to the house. The great majority of playmakers are on offense. The offense MAKES plays. The defense prevents plays for the most part.

Craig M, Vaccaro should definitely be in the mix. I also would have no problems with a DE or CB if we can't clear one in FA and lose Sean Smith. I think a WR is a reach during Round one.

craig why you addressing me, i wasn't addressing your post at all.


we need playmakers on both sides of course, but our wide outs scored 3 touchdowns las year.

wallace scored 8 himself....

wallyfin,

Sorry man....wrong guy.

GetSense, not sure if you're new to football or not, it's not JUST about scoring TDs, it's about preventing them too. I used the SF/Balt game as an example. I gave you Aldon Smith as an example. Add to that JJ Watt and Von Miller if you like. These guys 'make plays'. Doesn't have to be a TD. Can be a stop on 4th down. Can we sack on 3rd down, taking the other team out of field goal range. These are ALL important plays in a game.

Nobody is saying we don't need playmakers on offence but Cam Wake is ABSOLUTELY a playmaker on defence and one of the best in the league at what he does. You don't need to only score TDs to be a playmaker.

Craig M is for MORON

Thanks for yout input, Bacon. Always refreshing to see your intellect or lack thereof on display.

The Fins need TD's. Guys that SCORE, period. Thats on offense, kid.

Wait, wait a minute here. If a Player like Wake can force at least a 3 and out, not even a turnover, then we have an O opportunity which is where the most TDs are scored from. We get 1 or 2 of those opportunities from the same Player during the Game, I call him a play-maker.

Craig, stick to ice fishing ......or bowling....

The point of the game is to score the most points, the defense is top 10 and many of you want to spend a first rounder on defense. The offense is bottom half of the NFL lacking guys who can take it to the house on 1 play. Easy math upgrade the offense first

Err, it's a Team Game.

Clue EXACTLY!!

Clearly the Fins biggest need is offense.

I agree, Clue. The problem Isee that there are no O Megatrons either in FA or the Draft.

Clue this defense is not a top ten unit ... no way no how. No turnovers, and gives up a tonne of yards.

Wake is a great player but no more a playmaker then Jake Long. Is Jake Long a playmaker? nah

HoHo! They only shade a 4.2 Safety on Wallace, let's say like Polamalu, he won't get open deep. And then what?

Mark, the only reason the D gave up a lot of yardage is because Tanny led the league in 3 n outs. That puts tremendous pressure on any D. I think our D is really good.

hey we need alot,

wr, te. de, ss, cb, ot, og

but we have the money and draft picks to do it.

Trade for Larry Fitzgerald.

This Defense isn't even close to top 10 unit. We are clearly lacking a playmaker opposite Wake and guys who can cause turnovers. We get killed on slant passes. Yes, we need receivers and a TE. We need offensive playmakers but to ignore the Defense would be a huge mistake

I agree that the defense is very good and young and one player away from being a legitimate top 5 defense. I would gladly spend a 1st rounder on a stud DE or CB if we addressed our offensive needs in FA (which seem much easier to do due to the talent available up and down the board compared to defense)

We have enough ammo to do damage in both departments. Which makes me excited for this offseason. But Ireland's track record suggests we may completely fail and set ourselves up for another 5 years of distraught failure. And for that reason I am equally as apathetic about our offseason

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