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Will stadium vote cause the Dolphins to have more urgency this offseason to impress fans, voters?

This morning the Dolphins will make official what the Miami Herald confirmed on Saturday, namely that the team's attempt to secure hotel bed tax dollars and other tax breaks to help finance half of a $400 million upgrade to Sun Life Stadium would be put before the voters of Miami-Dade County in the next few months.

It's a gutsy move by the team. It's also something of a Hail Mary because even though local taxpayers are not generally having to fork over the money themselves, asking voters to  approve any tax increase of any kind (even when it's on tourists) is often not a winning proposition.

And it doesn't help that the county's elected officials did such a horrible job vetting the Marlins and dealing with that rogue organization as they negotiated a deal for the new Marlins Park. Public monies beyond bed taxes were used in that deal because the Marlins were losing money and promised to field a great lineup in exchange for their deal.

Except it was eventually learned the Marlins were making money. And the politicians never got the team to open its books before or after that fact came to light. And after one season of upgrading the roster, the club conducted a fire sale and will field a glorified Triple A team lineup this coming season to save money.

So the Marlins and the politicians that voted on their behalf screwed Miami-Dade.

And the fallout from that bomb threatens the Dolphins in this upcoming vote.

But ...

This vote also offers the Dolphins a grand, awesome opportunity. And, if embraced by the club, it can mend the recent narrow but apparent fissure between the team and its fans.

As you know, Dolphins' fans have not been thrilled with the recent direction of the team. The last four years of 7-9, 7-9, 6-10 and 7-9 were not great, but this break was coming well before that with Nick Saban lying and Bill Parcells splitting and Cam Cameron stinking.

So the love affair has been a little rocky and the historically low attendance last season was proof.

But, as I mentioned, this offseason, this vote, this time in team history is a grand and golden opportunity. Think of it, if the team reaches for greatness and that lights a fire under the fan base to turn out to the polls, we could go to August with:

1. A better team filled with promise and some actual proven stars.

2. A team whose house will be modernized.

3. A team that actually seems exciting to its fans.

4. A team that will remain in South Florida for a long, long time.

5. A team whose fans backed it at the polls.

And all this without winning a game. Indeed, all this without even playing a game.

So how does this happen?

Remember right after the season when I suggested the Dolphins handle this offseason in the fashion the Miami Heat handled the offseason in which they got Dwyane Wade re-signed, and added Chris Bosh, and LeBron James and Mike Miller?

Remember the offseason the Heat went big?

That's what the Dolphins have a chance to do this offseason with $46 million or so in salary cap space and five draft picks in the first three rounds.

And so that is the opportunity. The Dolphins can tilt the offseason, the roster, the fan base and the vote in their direction if they simply have the, um, fortitude to go big this offseason as the Heat did three years ago.

Get a bigtime playmaker or two in free agency. In other words, win in free agency. Then add talent in the draft that doesn't suggest you're going to be the same team you've been for a decade. Get that seam-threatening tight end. Get a promising safety to team with Reshad Jones. Get us some corners that knows how to do this thing recently foreign in Miami, what's it called? Oh yes, intercept the football.

Add a running back if you have to.

Hey, how about checking out the trade market, too. Percy Harvin might be out there. Explore, it! (I'm not ready to push for that move per se. But at least explore. Don't sit in a dark film room studying tape of the right guard from New Mexico, when freaking Percy Harvin is dangling out there.)

Dare to be great. And let your fans know as much.

Now, all this sounds like fanciful sportswriter mumbo jumbo, right? It's just a columnist with a vivid imagination sitting at his computer, eating twinkies and filling space.

Well, it would be that if I was lazy.

I'm not lazy.

I texted several of my Dolphins sources about this very subject Sunday. I asked if the team welcoming a vote would cause greater urgency to do something exciting?

The resulting answers were mixed.

First, the topic has not been discussed internally. Remember, the announcement is today. So there has been no grand strategy session within the organization to see if football operations can be helpful to the business side.

This, by the way, has to fall at the feet of owner Stephen Ross. He knows the business side has agreed to take the issue to the voting booth. He had to approve such a move. So once he got done with that conversation, why didn't he pick up another phone (my understanding is billionaires often have multiple phones) and call the football side and say, "Hey, general manager Jeff Ireland, we're doing this presser on Monday. We've got $200 million on the line here. The vote will likely be in May. I want to hear what you're going to do to help. And, you better help!"

That's the owner's job. He has business interests that represent $200 million dangling on a vote, it should automatically dawn on him to rally every asset within the organization to make sure the team does what most professional sports teams are in business to do: Win.

Win the offseason.

Win the fans over.

Win the vote.

(Peanut gallery speaking: "But, Mando, we want a team that wins during the season, not the offseason.")

Shaddup, ya foofs.

There are no games available to be played now, okay? And to win in the regular season, you have to build a team successfully in the offseason.

Anyway, I call on Ross, the head of the Dolphins organization, to get his business side hand and football side hand to speak to each other -- one hand working with the other -- and come up with a strategy that willl make the entire organization emerge from this victorious.

Is the business side into the idea?

Heck yes. In talking to a couple of people on that side, they completely agree that if football operations makes some significant advances or moves that convince fans the team is clearly going to be better, they are more likely to win the election.

"This would seem to be the time to make a statement," one source texted me.

That same source asked if signing a particular player would get fans fired up. I cannot divulge the name of the player used because my job is not to get sources in trouble for tampering. But suffice to say the player is a looming unrestricted free agent who makes plays.

I told the source it would help. But I believe it will take more than one player to light the excitement flames for Miami fans. Also, and more importantly, it's going to take adding more than one player to make the Dolphins much, much better. That's the beauty of all this. The business side would love signing several talented players because it helps them. The football side should love the idea of adding gobs of talent because it helps them.

Synergy!

So the business side would be pleased if this was the approach.

But, and here comes the newsy part of this post, the football side doesn't seem too excited with the idea at this point. I texted a couple of folks on that side, too.

I asked if the vote would bring greater urgency to get bigger name players.

"Nope," was one response I got.

"Doubtful," was another response. "We make football moves for the longterm well-being of the franchise, not to please fans."

Alrightie, then.

So, the football side is not on board at this time. It is going about things like this is another offseason that brings opportunities to improve. But it is not approaching this like it's make-or-break and $200 million and the long-term viability of the team in South Florida are at stake.

Do I agree with this?

Yes. And no.

I agree that winning rather than pleasing fans should be the goal. Always. But some people act like winning and adding bigtime players are mutually exclusive. BREAKING NEWS: Adding great players is what brings winning.

Also, if you're telling me that despite the need to please fans with a big name addition you would, as a hypothetical example here, refuse to pay Mike Wallace $15 million per year, I agree with you.

But, on the other hand, if you're saying you'd refuse to go to $10 million per year because you want to also add the $4 million per year guard, I'd think you're a certifiable dunce.

Deep threat. Imperative.

Guard. A grunt that isn't going to win you games.

(Peanut gallery speaking: "But Mando, you need good interior players too to win big in the NFL.")

Shaddup, ya twits.

You can't name the four guards that started in the Super Bowl and even if you could, you can't name one occassion when a guard scored in the NFL this season. And teams must score points to win. Also, the Dolphins have guards on the team already.

So where does this all leave us?

We have one side of the organization hoping the other side gets on board while the owner is in the middle having not yet broached the topic with either.

Let's hope this changes. There is still time before free agency. There is still time before the draft. There is still time before the NFL trade period opens. There is still time before the Miami-Dade County vote.

Most importantly, there is still time for the Dolphins to become a synchronized organization with all sides harmonizing toward a common goal. 

 

Comments

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Phins78,

I've heard Jennings mention a couple of times that he'd like to play in Miami. I believe I've heard some of the same from Bowe. I believe we'll end up with a top FA before it's all said and done. Hang on....

Phins 78 and Craig M....

Headed tp Crossfit (3:30) so I will keep this short....

I'm not saying sign him for a billion dollars...i'm saying let the guy know he is wanted and apperciated....Bush is SPECIAL in a SPECIAL role....

kill all that feature back stuff..and communicate the most EFFECTIVE way he canbe/should be/WILL be used....

Keep the door open....don't close it before FA starts....make Bush feel that he CAN come back....and will be treated fairly....

The NFL is about collecting talent....the MORE...the BETTER....the LESS = 7-9 or worse....

treat these players (especially LEADERS) with respect....show the NFL that you are a CLASS ORGANIZATION....and we will not only get MORE Bush type players...but we will get the Wallace's...and Ed Reed's as well....without breaking the bank.....

its all about respect...

"Last payday can be best defined as "being on your 3rd and final contract. These are players in year eight or more and it greatly depends on position they play and current level of performance."

YG, I had a feeling someone would say this I just want to answer to it before I read the rest of your post.

I consider the second pay day their "last big pay day" because that is usually the time players are in their prime. They're leaving a team they have been with for 4 or 5 years and are looking for a big raise.

The third contracts, if they make it that far, are what I consider Jennings type contracts. A little older, maybe some injury concerns, not going to command the money he did when being resigned by the Pack the first time.

So I don't see their third and final contract as a big pay day only because their last pay day was the biggest they will ever see. I see the point you're making, to us signing a 1 year contract at 5 mil seems enormous but considering that will be a pay cut for them I don't put it in the category of big pay day in NFL terms.

YG....

how did you know....did I type that already....I was saving that quote for AFTER the SB win...lol....

i'm out....

Kris,

I'm missing your point here. How is this any different than what the Ravens are doing with Flacco or any other team is doing with any other pending FA. It's all about negotiation. We know that. Posturing.

I don't believe the Dolphins have closed any doors on anyone but they also need to proceed with caution. Bush would be a good resign but I don't see him as a MUST HAVE.

LOL ! Sorry YG, I just read the rest of your post and you said the same thing I just did. It seems we are in agreement on the pay day thing. ;)

Craig that was the point I was trying to make, as bad as my points are sometimes.

I don't see Jennings as a top tier free agent considering age and injury concern.

I'm quite confident we can land him especially considering his apparent interest in playing for the Phins and his ties with Philbin. Don't get me wrong, I like a Jennings signing IF, we also draft two young WRs. I like that he could help get the young guys up to speed in this offense and be a kind of on the field coach much like Wayne was in Indianapolis. There's a right way to sign Jennings and a wrong way.

Bottom line Ross, do something really big, or you had better have a very large family and friends circle to fill the stands.

Ross will make the improvements himself. He shouldnt have bought the team if he was gonna cheapout on repairs.

Phins78,

We MOSTLY see it the same way. Not sure you'll see the team draft TWO young WRs but you never know with Ireland sometimes. A WR and a TE in the draft high is more what I'm looking for. I think we'd be fine with Jennings, Bess, a young guy, young TE and hopefully a FA TE. Then you've got guys like Benns and Matthews who you'd look to see growth from. I could be wrong but I'm not sure Ireland will draft TWO WRs. Hasn't been his pattern.

Kris I know you left, perhaps you will see this later.

I'm all for reaching out to Bush, but only in a 'we really want to keep you and will talk to you after the market is established' way.

They can't offer him anything at this point because they have no clue what he is worth to other teams. Seeing how he isn't worth as much now (to us) with the expected emergence of Miller I'm scared of low balling him and really alienating he AND other free agents.

If he is such a great leader than certainly he can see all of the teams needs. Being a professional he should understand that the best way for his team to win would be for them to have an extra million or two in the wallet to spend on other players. You offer him 6 million right now what's to say other teams weren't going stay at 4 mil for an offer? Now you have wasted 2 million dollars when you didn't need to.

If he wants to stay in Miami and wants the team to win then he will accept a fair offer based on what the market is set at.

If he only cares about himself and money then he will try to force Miami to make a blind offer in an effort to get payed more than he is worth.

I'm wondering what type of team leader he truly is.

The problem is Ross wont pay for top talent and Ireland cant find any.....

DC, understand I can't throw names out there without mentally attaching price tags to them. The Dolphins realistically are not going to spend themselves into oblivion, nor will the cap allow it.

To make the money go as far as it can AND get multiple upgraded players, the Dolphins should get the best value they can this year. That would be moderate money spent on TEs, because Jeff can get really good TEs cheap as compared to WRs. Then CBs in FA and WRs in the draft. Think "upgrades" on the CBs rather than "fixed." This would leave FA money for the OL, too. And it's not necessary to get a blue chip. The west coast offense and zone blocking scheme partially offsets the need for great talent along the o-line.

Yeah, no Julio's this year. But the WRs available in the draft and the amount of high picks the team has, guarantees getting better talent than what the team had in 2012.

And, I don't think Jennings goes for under $5M but neither do I think Hartline does.

The Canes are now #3 in the nation. In basketball! If that can happen surely we can get out of this mediocrity funk.

#3! Incredible.

There's a lot of talk out there that Harvin will holdout unless he gets a new contract. It looks like a similar tactic to what VJax did with SD. Apparently he can hold out for up to ten weeks without losing his right to be a FA next year (same as VJax). This to me sounds like a guy who just wants to get paid. It's wrong on SO many levels. Move on....not interested.

Phins78,

Like I said i previous post, Jennings is definitely a guy I would like to have around while revamping and building a youn wr corps. His knowlege of this offense to show and teach the young wr's would absolute invaluable. Plus he offers 2-3 more years of nice production too.

He also brings with him the knowlege to teach the new incoming wr's how to be professional. He's pretty much been a class act his entire time in the league.

So you see, Jennings brings far more to the table than just what remains of his skill set alone. That's why overrall, I view him as far more valuable on the whole than Wallace or Bowe.

He still has some valuable talent. Knows the wco from the wr standpoint like the back of his hand. Particularly this version. Plus the young wr's can learn to become consumate professionals just by watching the way he handles his business alone.

Not to mention he's probably far more young qb friendly than Wallace or Bowe.

Yo Ross,


It wouldnt guarantee success but you'd get a lot more votes if ya FIRE IRELAND!!

resign bush hartline and starks sign free agents jennings wallace and ed reed kruger too maybe...draft cornerback or pass rusher in round 1.

Craig I keep forgetting about Matthews and Binns.

One solid wr pick would be fine but it has to be top end if we are signing Jennings. Then they can grab an undrafted guy or two for a look see.

The problem I have with Matthews, and we sparingly got to see him so I'm not positive, but the guy looked like he was running in quick sand. I didn't see any speed at all. Was I not watching closely enough? This guy seems super slow and reminds me of Wilford.

As much as we need it I feel very skeptical with Ireland's track record with offensive players. So, with that, I feel like it will be impossible to improve the offense and won't feel confident until I see it on the field. Then again, he did pick Bush over the DeAngelo Williams and Ahmad Bradshaw's of the world (+1), attempt to go big and failed with Marshall (+1 for trying to go big, -1 for failing), and he has passed on ruining our team with the likes of Palmer, Orton, etc (+1)

Problem is, as I've always said, Ireland's best moves are the ones he doesn't make. Which means he's smart and knows what he's doing but may be afraid to pull the trigger again on something big after the Marshall debacle. Or may be afraid of doubling down on say a WR or CB again because of the David/Smith double-down failure.

Ross,

Fire Ireland and show you care!

YG, 100% absolutely agree with everything you just said at 3:05. It's as if you were reading my mind because every point you just made I have made in lots of separate posts dating back to December! I love Jennings ability to be that mentor and NOT be a diva expecting a certain amount of catches. YES! He will not only help the other wrs but the QB too.

I'm sure Irescum will find us another D. Thomas or M Eggnew.


Posted by: Our Draft Picks Are Useless | February 11, 2013 at 03:03 PM

Guess you still havent gotten the memo. You can only pay what your salary cap situation will allow. Just because is a billionaire doesnt mean he can pay a guy $100 million dollars to play in Miami.

Its not called cheap, its called cap. If you have $50 million in cap room and and only spend $10 million of it, then you can call an owner cheap.

We've been so close to the cap limit after paying our own fa's since Ross has been owner. I dont remaber much of a time we were in position to get into bidding wars for top fa's. We're usually one and done. Just like our lone playoff appearance 5yrs ago.

Great plan. Fire Ireland now right before the draft and free agency. That will certainly make free agents feel comfy and stable.

Seriously, why are some of these posts written?

Great post @ 3:08 MiamiD20.

Hey, the FA"s know Irelands getting fired. AT least they'd know who the nes GM will be. And the draft picks have no say.

Phins78,

Agreed on the idea of drafting a WR near the top of the draft. Matthews is fine as far as speed is concerned. He's not a burner but neither is Jennings. Sometimes I think people over-rate speed (not directed at you). The best to play the game, Jerry Rice, was never a speedster either. We've had guys like Gates and Ginn in here and they were useless. Matthews I think will be fine and actually has a chance to develop into a pretty good WR, I think. I like what I saw of him in pre-season and in the little bit we got to see him last year.

YG I've been asking him to explain his Ross is cheap comments but he keeps ignoring me. I suspect he's trying to be funny or just trying to get attention. Don't bother trying to educate the irrational, it's not worth your time.

Phin78,

On Binns and Matthews, I dont want to sit around and hold my nuts on hoping a couple 7th rd wr's will become stars. Sign Jenneings, draft 2 wr's early.

Binns and Matthews are cheap enough to keep if they make the cut after doing what I suggested above.

Reality, join us here would ya?! lol what in the heck are you talking about bud?

I can't f*&^ing (sorry ALoco) believe I just got pulled into another free agency discussion! hahahahaha Yes, I'm bored.

Phins78, you're a grown man, you should know that "reaching out to Bush" is a tactic that seldom works. bush always needs to feel that Bush needs you more than you need Bush. let the Bush come to you!

Posted by: Phins78 | February 11, 2013 at 03:16 PM

Maybe mommy keeps his crib in the basement next to the computer keyboard. LOL....

MiamiD20,

I think there's SOME validity to your point that some of Ireland's BEST moves are the ones he hasn't made. There have been MANY, including not handing out $9 mil a year to bench-warmer Matt Flynn. To me this is PART of the job. No Albert Haynesworth contracts to speak of and NO Marshall and Dansby moves aren't even close. So I give him full marks for that.

However, the time has come to make his mark in FA and the draft. No more excuses. I'm with you on that. We need some stars this offseason, so let's see it.

None ofr the gm are reaching out to their fa's right now. If they were, these guys wouldnt be on the fa list. LOL...

The 1st offer given is always the lowball offer. Thats sales 101. LOL...

Dont forget. Lots of FA's done want to join the Dolphins because of Ireland's racist reputation. A new GM would attract more FA's.

Incidentally, George Wilson released by the Bills today. He's more of a SS but he's yet ANOTHER guy who could help this secondary and he was only making $2.9 mil a year.

You pro-Clemmons guys keep defending him. There's better options out there and I want this team to get better.

Craig I tend to lean more on YGs side of the fence on this one with one caveat.

Draft a te (I want them to draft Ertz if people don't know!) in the second and I'll stick with the one wr draftee in the first and then maybe some undrafted guys to look at.

But if they aren't going to do anything about the TE position because Ireland thinks Clay, Fasano, and Egnew (God help us) will get better they absolutely HAVE to draft a couple of wr's early. I think where YG and I differ is I want to see a CB drafted early as well. I have my list of top three at CB,WR,TE, in that order. I'll let you guys argue over the who's as I don't follow much college football. But I did get to see Ertz play a lot which is why I'm high on him.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | February 11, 2013 at 03:19 PM

LMAO! Nice.

Kris isn't here anymore, but if the coaches don't use Bush's strength (out of the backfield as a receiver) than why pay him at all? And I love Bush, probably my favorite player on the team as of now. Playmaker, hardest worker on the team, good character guy. I don't know why it took to the end of the Season to realize he's really special when he's used as a receiver.

I'm of the belief that there are some good athletes on that defence and that Wannstedt just didn't get the most out of them. The defence underachieved BIG TIME this year. There'll be some good bargains there if Ireland does his homework, Byrd being the prize. Jsut not sure he'll ever make it to FA.

Like that E-trade baby? I can see it, but even that baby understands what a salary cap is!

The Packers would love to get Reggie Bush.

Well, there are many other gm's that dont have "supposedly racist reputations", but fa's are not joining those teams either.

Their are only 2 main attractors for top fa's signing with a team:

A. The Money has to be fair.
B. The team needs to appear to be heading in the right direction.

It's been more the team didnt appear to be heading in the right direction than Ireland's racist reputation. Players dont deal with Ireland on a daily basis.

Hell, if I were a fa a few years back, all that I would need to hear was 1 Tony Sparano news presser and I wouldnt want to come to Miami. LOL...

Reggie Bush would be a good add for the Lions, Packers or Chargers. Maybe even the Steelers. There will be SOME market for Bush. He has skills teams would be interested in.

The reality is we let him go we'll have to fill the hole somehow. You can't rely on Miller and Thomas to get it done. Now does that mean the draft or a vet like Bradshaw or McGhee? Maybe.

Guys I have to go. It was fun talking Dolphins with my fellow sadomasochists but I have some things to do! Talk to everyone later. ALoco, I hope you had a great night at work in case I don't get to say hi. Peace

PS, Any Dade county residents who pop by,,,VOTE YES YOU IDIOTS!

CraigM,

I rather take my chances on drafting Matt Elam than signing George Wilson right now. This guy will probably be without a team ito the preseason.

Craig, 2 words for you...Jonas Gray! We might have the next Adrian Peterson just sitting on our IR.

Yeah, no Julio's this year. But the WRs available in the draft and the amount of high picks the team has, guarantees getting better talent than what the team had in 2012.
And, I don't think Jennings goes for under $5M but neither do I think Hartline does.
Posted by: billcale | February 11, 2013 at 03:03 PM

I will admit I'm not the X's and O's guy like some of you informed folks on here and I really enjoy reading your post.

Having said that though you can't seriuosly think we will go into the season next year with Bess, Binns, Matthews, and a couple of rookies and expect to contend. Free agents are a risk but this is the position we're in. Gotta take a shot at one of the 3 top guys.

Jennings does seem to make the most sense if he can stay healthy.

Its his stadium. Why doesnt Ross fix it?

Again with this Jonas Gray. Who is this guy, I feel like he's our Kaiser Sauze!!

go finssssssss go canesssssssss

I have educated you all. There is nothing left for me to tell you.

LOL Mark, no one knows. He's just a shadowy figure on our IR. I keep hearing about what he COULD be, but never even seen the guy's face once.

Plus, it goes with the Dolphin way. We replaced Marshall with...Hartline and Naane. We're replacing Long with...Jonathan Martin. Makes sense to replace Bush with...Jonas Gray.

Then next year we'll have 70mil to play with. Let's just stack money and never use it on talent.

dc u have to use the money starting this year, league rules

We make football moves for the longterm well-being of the franchise, not to please fans."

This guy Ross has some balls. He wants to enrich himself using tax dollars and to hell with everyone else. Hey Ross, the longterm well-being of the franchise has been a flop so far, 7-9, 7-9, 6-10, 7-9. I say vote NO! Give the fans something to be hopeful for, first.

Haha, DC, sweet. I had to look up this Jonas Gray. Undrafted free agent ... which is not unusual for a RB. 5'9, 230 lbs ... built a little like Ray Rice. he also averaged almost 7 ypc his SR year at Notre Dame. 7 ypc at any FBS school is impressive. Runs a 4.58. This guy may be something ... who knows?

anythings possible after c.wake mark

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