Over the weekend the Boston Globe's Greg Bedard noted that the last three Super Bowls champions had only one unrestricted free agent starter in his first year with the team -- combined.
(I'd embed the link but the column is behind a paywall so if you want to see it, go get it. I recommend you do).
Anyway, while that is a very interesting and consequential fact that suggests Super Bowl teams typically grow a majority of their own talent and need their imported talent to adjust for more than a year before succeeding at the highest level, I can see the fact also has the potential to be misunderstood.
Just as what the Dolphins are trying to do this offseason will likely be misunderstood.
The fact suggests rightly that free agents don't immediately bring Super Bowl titles in tow when they sign. Fine. I think everyone gets that. But the next assumption -- that the Dolphins will fail miserably in 2013 because they added eight free agents so far is ridiculous.
Look, Jeff Ireland has spoken to the media multiple times this offseason. So has owner Stephen Ross. And coach Joe Philben spent an hour on the record only two weeks ago.
None have uttered the words, "We're adding free agents this offseason to win the very next Super Bowl and if we don't we're total failures."
The Dolphins aren't adding free agents to win the next Super Bowl. That's not the immediate goal. They're adding free agents to help them win. Period. It's something that hasn't been done in Miami for quite some time and the Dolphins are doing what they can to change course.
The last time the Dolphins put a winning team on the field was 2008. That's a president ago. That's a whole different economy ago. It's been a long time, folks.
And so to criticize them for trying to add talent to a team that desperately needed the infusion is akin to criticizing an athlete for practicing his craft because he might not immediately win a title as a result.
Winning a title is the ultimate goal, yes. But there are goals lower down the ladder of accomplishments the Dolphins will happily chase and consider 2013 a success if they meet -- even if they don't win a Super Bowl.
How about turning in a winning season? How about making the playoffs as a wild card team? How about winning the AFC East? Relevance doesn't just come after winning the Super Bowl.
All of those are viable goals short of a Super Bowl win that would likely feel good to the fan base by the time 2013 comes to a close.
And, unlike that ominous stat about first-year starting UFAs on Super Bowl winners, I can report UFAs do indeed help their teams turn it around fairly quickly when the measure of that turnaround is not a Super Bowl win.
Drew Brees went to New Orleans as a UFA and turned that team, indeed that city, into a winner.
Michael Turner went to Atlanta in 2008 as a UFA and helped that team make multiple playoff appearances. Atlanta, by the way, has no problem adding talent by any means necessary -- trades for veterans, trade ups in the draft, unrestricted free agency, you name it.
When the Giants won the Super Bowl in February 2008, the player who caught the winning TD was UFA Plaxico Burress.
The Arizona Cardinals went to the Super Bowl in February 2009 with UFA quarterback Kurt Warner leading them there.
Jacoby Jones was released by the Houston Texans on May 1, 2012 and signed as a free agent seven days later with the Baltimore Ravens. And that was him making multiple big plays for Baltimore last postseason, including a 70-yard touchdown catch against Denver with 30 seconds to play to tie the game and a 108-yard kickoff return touchdown against San Francisco in the Super Bowl.
By the way, Denver was 13-3 last season and won the AFC West. I'd say UFA quarterback Peyton Manning had something to do with that.
So what about those facts suggest adding free agents is a bad idea?
Oh yeah, nothing.