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6 posts from March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013

Brent Grimes visits the Dolphins

That stuff about the Dolphins slowing in free agency because they were waiting on Jake Long? No.

After signing both TE Dustin Keller and receiver Brandon Gibson today, the club also announced it hosted a free agency visit by cornerback Brent Grimes.

Grimes is a six-year vet who has spent his entire career with the Atlanta Falcons. He made his way onto the team as an undrafted free agent and made the Pro Bowl in 2010. He has played 59 career games and has 13 career interceptions but last year played only one game due to injury.

Grimes tore his Achilles' tendon in the season opener and missed the rest of the season. It is unclear whether the 5-10, 183-pounder is fully recovered from that injury but it must be said the full recovery time for such an injury is usually more than six months.

Grimes, 28 in July, is the first cornerback visiting the Dolphins following the departure of cornerback Sean Smith.

Smith signed with the Chiefs after the Dolphins showed little interest in retaining him. Little interest is defined as the Dolphins didn't offer him a contract.

Cornerback is considered a deep position in this year's draft.

The Dolphins need help at cornerback and will get it either in free agency or the draft or, more likely,  a combination of the two. The only cornerbacks the Dolphins have on the roster with starting experience are Nolan Carroll, Richard Marshall, Dimitri Patterson and Jimmy Wilson.

Carroll started last year but lost his job late in the season. Marshall spent most of the season injured nursing a bad back that required surgery. Patterson was a late-season addition who started one game and promptly got injured. Wilson made one emergency start in 2011 but is considered mostly a nickel or dime player.

This has been a terrible year in the free agent market for corners. Grimes would be a good pickup as a stopgap or on a prove-it contract.

Gibson is a Dolphin, raises Bess questions

Brandon Gibson will be a Miami Dolphins by the end of the day, a source is telling me. He has agreed to a three-year deal, according to the Herald's Adam Beasley.

Why?

Gibson had 51 catches for 691 yards and five touchdowns for the receiver-starved Rams last year. Obviously that team is going in a different direction as Danny Amendola went to New England and Gibson will end up in Miami.

But is Gibson, 26 in August, a fit?

Obviously the Dolphins believe so. He is not a speed receiver as Miami has been chasing. He is 6-foot and 205 pounds so he's not small.

This immediately raises the question how adding Gibson affects Davone Bess. Well, I am trying to get the answer to that.

At best, Bess is going to have some competition. So is Brian Hartline, by the way. But as the Dolphins have already shown this offseason, they are adding but also subtracting talent when the upgrade is made. Hartline is not going to be cut as he just signed a new deal with guaranteed money.

Consider Bess at risk until we hear otherwise.

Bess caught 61 passes for 778 yads in 13 games but finished the season on the injured reserve list.

What would fake GM Salguero do in this situation:

I keep Davone Bess for now. He only costs $2.6 million against the cap. He's well-liked in the locker room. I let him go to camp and compete and if he's one of the best three receivers he plays a lot. And if he's one of the best four, he's a great insurance policy.

And if he isn't any of the above I trade him for a sixth or seventh round pick.

By the way, Gibson no doubt impressed the Dolphis when they played the Rams last year. He caught seven passes for 91 yards and that was his second best game of the season. But perhaps he left a lasting impression based on the 22-yard catch on the video below:

 

Dustin Keller: Dolphins over the Jets

Dustin Keller just spoke with the South Florida media and the most interesting things about his 10 minute chat follow:

That Jets versus Dolphins rivalry everyone of you pour over?

"Once we got to free agency all that was out the window," Keller said. "I just wanted to check the market and see whre everything was. Coming into the Dolphins and speaking with all the coaches, it was a good fit."

Keller says he had interest from multiple teams but ultimately his choice narrowed to the New York Jets or the Miami Dolphins.

"It was really between those two," he said. "Other teams were talking but there really those two teams that came down to and once I made the visit it made my decision pretty easy."

Why?

"We had talked to New York as well but what it came down to was it was a better fit for me. I had a great time in New York but it was time to move on for me. I see my future here in Miami. I see a bright one. I feel like I'm going to be surrounded by a great lockerroom and just great guys and coaches that are going to help me thrive."

I understand that you'll read that quote and perhaps wonder why Keller is talking about a future in Miami when he only signed a one-year deal. Look, that deal gives Keller an opportunity to prove what he believes is his true value.

If he somehow finds great chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and catches, say, 60 passes for 800 yards, the Dolphins will obviously want to keep him in the fold and could easily do that before he hits free agency.

Keller, being a competitor, is thinking that will be the case. He's not meditating on the possibility he'll get injured again or will simply be overshadowed in the Miami offense. He's expecting big things.

Keller met with multiple coaches including position coach Dan Campbell, who he apparently has great respect for. He also met head coach Joe Philbin.

"They're all about winning and winning now," Keller said. "I know they've had some rebuilding years. But this is the time for them to win and that excited me more than anything."

 

Long leaves St. Louis, Dolphins 'encouraged'

Jake Long may still join the St. Louis Rams someday. But probably not today.

After three days of dining and meeting and poking and prodding and, yes, negotiating, Long left the Rams facility earlier without a contract from that team. That is a blow of sorts for Long who expected he'd have a deal with the team once his medical exam checked out.

It's also a blow for the Rams who wanted Long as their blindside protector of quarterback Sam Bradford.

The Rams did offer Long a contract, according to a league source. But it wasn't for the terms the Long camp want.

Meanwhile, as I've been reporting for days including today the Dolphins continue to want Jake Long back in the fold. They have continued to try to get him back throughout this process.

Now, keep yourself from making the leap that Long leaving St. Louis without a deal and Miami pushing for a deal means it is a certainty Long will return to the Dolphins. A league source told me today Long has multiple teams interested in him and that he is willing to explore those interests.

But, on the other hand, I'm told the Dolphins are very encouraged by today's happenings. The last time the Dolphins told me they felt things were looking good was earlier today and then the club agreed to a deal with TE Dustin Keller.

A reminder: The Dolphins have a Plan B if Long bolts, I am told.

But it is not correct to believe the Dolphins cannot continue to do other work while Long hangs in the balance. The team obviously already disproved this by getting Keller. The Dolphins are also hosting wide receiver Brandon Gibson and want to get him signed as well at the right price.

Free agency has not stopped because of Jake Long. 

Dolphins agree to deal with TE Dustin Keller

The Miami Dolphins and tight end Dustin Keller are closing in on a deal that would bring the prospective New York Jets free agent to Miami.

According to league sources the sides are in the final stages of getting a deal done. Although there is no definitive agreement yet, both sides believe one will be done barring last minute snags.

Terms of this deal are not available.

[Update: The deal is done. It is for one year.]

Keller, 29 in September, has 241 catches in the 72 NFL games he's played the past five seasons. He was the New York Jets first round draft pick in 2008.

The Dolphins needed to add tight end help for multiple reasons including the fact they lost Anthony Fasano, the starter since 2008, to the Kansas City Chiefs via free agency.

The club also wanted to upgrade the position with superior pass catching.

Keller brings some of that. He has never caught fewer than 45 passes in a season he played all 16 games and that despite the Jets obvious troubles at quarterback.

Keller is not considered a great blocking TE. He is considered a better pass-catching threat than the Dolphins have had since Randy McMichael, who last played in Miami in 2006.

Keller visited the Dolphins on Wednesday and Thursday. He was looking for a long-term deal but his price was clearly beyond what the Dolphins were willig to pay long-term. By signing a one-year deal, the sides agreed Keller would have a chance to prove his true value in 2013 and return to free agency in 2014 for a chance to get a better deal.

The Dolphins were previously linked to Oakland's Brandon Myers but showed no significant interest in him.

Twitter gives an insight to Long, Keller situations

I love twitter.

I wrote something on twitter on Wednesday and within 30 minutes it was on profootballtalk.com and a few minutes later the Dolphins texted me to clarify their position.

Twitter on Thursday also let us know the sense of apparent frustration Jake Long is having as his marathon visit to the St. Louis Rams dragged into a third day.

Despite a Wednesday report that Long's deal was done, despite being reportedly cleared by the Rams medical staff, despite a whirlwind tour of the city and multiple meals courtesy the team, Long still was unsigned as of this writing.

"I know you guys want answers right now, we do too! It's all going to work out for the best and we'll let you know when we know!" Mrs.Jackie Long, the offensive tackle's wife, tweeted just before midnight.

Look, contracts take a while. But slam-dunk deals don't take this long. This is obviously not a slam-dunk.

The Rams, desperate to get a blindside protector for quarterback Sam Bradford, are apparently not that desperate. If they'd given Long his asking price, it would have been done already.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, continue to tell me re-signing Jake Long is currently their free agency priority. I do not know whether they have made Long another offer -- they've made at least two that I know of -- but I imagine they have parameters and I supposed they have wiggle room within those parameters.

Me, I think it's better to set an offer nearly as high as you're willing to go and if the player doesn't bite, move on and continue conducting business.

As to the conduct of that other free agency business, I see the Dolphins as wanting to address some needs on offense. They brought in tight end Dustin Keller for a visit Wednesday and Thursday and hosted Rams receiver Brandon Gibson Thursday and part of Friday.

That's a good idea because, as I say in my column today in the Miami Herald, addressing the offense should remain the priority this offseason.

Offense.

Offense, offense, offense, offense, offense.

That last sentence, by the way, was more offense than the Dolphins showed in most games last season.

But I understand sometimes that adding players on offense is a matter of timing. The Dolphins can't go full in for some players when they've got the Long decision (and his contract) hanging in the balance.

And sometimes a deal is hard to strike early in free agency when a player has delusions of financial grander. And this is where I introduce you to Damien Keller. He is Dustin Keller's brother. And, God loves me, he has a twitter account.

And on that account on Wednesday just before Dustin arrived for his Miami visit, Damien tweeted: "If Jared Cook is worth 5 yrs, 40 million... How much more does that mean Dustin Keller should be getting?"

Two things:

Cook actually got a five-year, $35.11 million deal from the Rams. It has $19 million guaranteed. He's getting $21 million the first three years. The contract is a legit $7 million per season deal.

So it is a huge deal for a tight end of Cook's past modest production. No wonder the Dolphins didn't get this done.

Yet the thinking from the Keller family is that the prospective New York Jets free agent is worth "more," as Damien tweeted?

Really?

Dustin Keller is a $4 million a year tight end all day. He's a very nice complement on a team with other weapons. But he is not elite. He is not $7-million-a-year good.

Do you understand why he left the Dolphins without a deal Thursday? He will continue to look for more money. He will not get it from the Jets. My understanding is he might try the Giants, or the Buffalo Bills. His agent reached out to the Denver Broncos.

I don't think any of those teams will pay his price either. Actually, the Bills, the hot mess that they are, might do something for him because they're desperate and stinky and dumb.

But if not, Keller's price will drop. And if it drops to more palpable levels, the Dolphins should still be interested.