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3 posts from March 26, 2013

March 26, 2013

Mike Dee takes on Norman Braman head on

The Dolphins have been negotiating with Miami-Dade County in an effort to get $389 million worth of upgrades to Sun Life Stadium. The club is paying for 57 percent of the deal out of its own private funds and offering to refund $120 million to Miami-Dade County within 30 years, meaning it will give back the county's $120 million public investment that it is getting from a tourist tax.

But while this has played out, the club has fought an unseen battle with local car magnate and former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman.

Braman has for some reason become the very vocal voice of the opposition. He has also been a major funding source for those opposed to any public funding for upgrading Sun Life.

Why is uncertain. But this much is certain:

The Dolphins don't like it much. The club has been simmering privately about Braman's lobbying of politicians against their efforts and public stance against the team in the media.

Those private sentiments leaked into public Tuesday evening when Dolphins Chief Executive Officer Mike Dee took to twitter and went after Braman.

"With the offer that is now on the table, Norman Braman is frankly irrelevant to this conversation," Dee tweeted.

"When he agrees to repay the public money he accepted for his dealership, we will be happy to acknowledge his otherwise hypocritical stance," he added.

The team says that Braman, who opposes public funding of private ventures, took public money for one of his car dealerships. That is something I will be looking into the next few days.

Finally, Dee believes that whatever Braman says, the final say belongs to voters.

"Thanks for the positive replies," Dee said on twitter. "The voters of Miami Dade County should make this decision not Norman Braman."

Yup, it's on now.

DT Vaughn Martin visits Dolphins

The Dolphins spent the day visiting with unrestricted free agent Vaughn Martin today, the team announced.

The 6-4 and 308 pound Martin fits as a five-technique defensive end but also a 4-3 defensive tackle which is where the Dolphins see value in him.

Martin is not really a pass-rusher. He three career sacks in four season -- one sack in each of the past three years.

Martin, 26, started 12 games for San Diego last year and 15 games in 2011.

Sign Brent Grimes because CB is a problem

Free agency is slowing to a crawl now. The top names are mostly off the market. The Dolphins did not report any visits Monday. Things are quiet.

The club is still flirting with RT Eric Winston. There are a couple of other one-year or two-year contract type guys out there -- specifically Brandon Moore and Lance Louis.

But, frankly, I don't believe the Dolphins can affford to be done.

The team's free agency focus now needs to be cornerback. The position is a nightmare. Brent Grimes is out there and available. The only other team talking to him, other than Miami, seems to be Cleveland.

Get it done!

Why the urgency on Grimes?

The team's stated plan in free agency in it's early stages was to fill needs and upgrade as many positions as possible so that general manager Jeff Ireland could have room to operate in any direction he wants during the draft.

That's not me saying that. Last week at the NFL annual meeting both Ireland and coach Joe Philbin talked about having "more latitude" in the draft based on Miami's free agency moves. The idea, I am being told, is to go into the draft without having to select players because of need. The idea is to select the best available player (BAP).

But look at the cornerback position. You know what you see?




It's not so much that Miami lost Sean Smith because, frankly, he was not a good player at the end of the year after a very, very hot start. Inconsistency thy name is Sean Smith. It's because the apparent loss followed the loss of Vontae Davis and the injury-riddled year of Richard Marshall.

So Miami's top three cornerbacks from one year ago are either gone from the team or coming back from major back surgery.

Who does that leave the Dolphins with at cornerback right now? Let's ask Philbin:

“I think our front seven hopefully is going to be good again," he said. "I think it’s a good group. We like what we’re going to see there. We’re really happy that we re-signed Chris Clemons as well. Again, Chris is a guy that played 1,100 plays, he might have played more plays than anybody on our football team a year ago and the guy’s tough. He keeps his mouth shut. He just comes to work. He’s physical. He’s a good football player. I’m really delighted he’s back. Kelcie McCray’s a guy that we were excited about. In a limited role that we saw him, he’s going to have a chance to get to work again. I’m excited about it. I think we’re going to have a good nucleus with a good defense. The biggest thing we said we’ve got to find a way to take the ball away. After watching all of the cutups, 1,000 or so plays on defense, we can’t survive with 16 takeaways."

Understand what just happened here. Philbin is asked about the cornerback situation and he talks about the front seven, a safety, an undrafted rookie player that was injured practically the first week of training camp last year, and the problems taking the ball away last year.

That isn't much of an endorsement of what is currently going on for the Dolphins at cornerback.

So let's have another go at it.

Coach, what are you excited about at cornerback?

"Well we have some young guys on the roster that we are excited about working with," he responds. "You know (Julian) Posey and (Deandre) Presley and those guys. We’d like to see how they come along, and the offseason program is a Godsend for those guys because they get to be in the building every day and learn and compete, so we’re excited about seeing what they are capable of doing. And then obviously there are a lot of good players still available in free agency that we may or may not pursue and then there’s 11 draft picks. So I think we’re certainly not done adding to that position and we’ll see what happens."

Oh boy. Trouble.

The Dolphins need Grimes. Or they need to get an idea and perhaps look into Tracy Porter or even DeAngelo Hall. (Porter is wildly inconsistent and Hall is not my favorite because of his attitude but both still have value as a one-year stopgap). Sheldon Brown, a solid zone defender, is also avaliable.

Barring the addition of a veteran cornerback the Dolphins are going to find themselves locked into a tough situation on draft day. They are going to find themselves drafting not one but probably two corners in the top rounds

The last time the club did that -- in 2009 with Davis and Smith -- it didn't work out very well. Yet, barring that kind of commitment to the positon, the Dolphins will be picking starting cornerbacks out of a group of players -- Marshall, Dimitri Patterson, McCray, Posey, Presley -- that raise more questions than they do deliver answers.

The Dolphins need to sign Brent Grimes, folks.