April 09, 2014

Dolphins preseason schedule here

MIAMI DOLPHINS’ 2014 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

DATE           OPPONENT                  SITE                  TV           TIME*

Aug. 7-10      at Atlanta Falcons      Georgia Dome     WFOR        TBD

Aug. 14-18    at Tampa Bay Bucs      Raymond James   WFOR        TBD

Aug. 21-24    DALLAS COWBOYS       SUN LIFE          WFOR        #TBD

Aug. 28         ST. LOUIS RAMS          SUN LIFE         WFOR        #TBD

 

*Dates and Times will be announced at a later date.

#Game will be broadcast live if sold out 72 hours in advance of game time.

April 08, 2014

Hazing will be thing of the past for Dolphins

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell today will meet with the braintrust of the NFL Players Association, including new president Eric Winston, executive director DeMaurice Smith and other members of the recently elected executive committee, and one major topic on the table will be workplace conduct.

The meeting, part of Goodell's attention to fostering respect and good conduct in the workplace, is a direct result of the Dolphins 2013 harassment scandal.

And out of this and other meetings may come tangible conduct guidelines from the NFL on how players (and others) should interact in the workplace -- which includes the locker room, the practice field, and practice facility as well as the football field every game day.

(Sad it has come to this, but grown men are about to be told how to act because a handful of guys on the Dolphins and elsewhere crossed the line.)

Anyway, one area that is most definitely in the crosshairs on a league and local level with the Dolphins is the subject of rookie hazing.

The idea of older, more established players wielding power over younger, newer players is not new to the NFL. It's been going on forever. And much of the time it has been innocuous.

The idea of rookies bringing breakfast to camp every morning, or meals for veterans to team flights, or singing their alma mater in front of a team meeting hasn't really bothered too many people before -- except Tim Bowens once upon a time. (More on that later).

But when you have an annual practice, which rookie hazing is, and you have no guidelines for it and thus no limits, and then some folks get out of control, the practice often is assigned governing parameters.

Look for rookie hazing on a league-wide level to soon be governed under some parameters. And do not be surprised if those parameters include prohibiting much if not all rookie hazing altogether.

And even if rookie hazing league-wide is not severly limited, look for the Dolphins to do so going forward.

Why?

Well, the NFL believes the players should operate in a workplace environment of respect and professionalism. And hazing -- which includes practices such as  players giving other players embarrassing haircuts and forcing them to do sophomoric things -- does not outwardly portray a strong sense of respect and professionalism.

You may recall during the past two preseasons Dolphins veterans have cut and dyed the hair of rookies in all sorts of unfashionable ways. In 2012 Jonathan Martin was made to look like a monk, with his hair shaven on top and allowed to grow out on the side.

Josh Samuda's hair was sculpted in such a way as to resemble a penis. And although Samuda tried to wear a hat to cover the carving, it was nonetheless uncovered during a team meeting ... on Hard Knocks.

You'll recall the scene on national television of coach Joe Philbin smiling uncomfortably as he saw the hairstyle unveiled. And you'll recall him joking about how classy that made the Dolphins organization look.

Well, Philbin last year got a taste of what can happen when playful rookie hazing grows up, gets angry, and is put in the hands of exactly the wrong people -- people who have no barriers holding power over people who have no ability to stand up for themselves.

Philbin obviously doesn't want a repeat of veteran players forcing younger players to do things they don't want -- such as pay for trips to Las Vegas, the strip club or expensive dinners -- which were some of the allegations of what was going on within the Dolphins.

So Philbin is going to draw a line on hazing in the coming training camp even if the NFL does not.

(Peanut gallery: But Mando, rookie hazing serves a purpose. It draws the players closer. It is a rite of passage. It brings the rookie outsiders into the fold. It is a team-building exercise).

Thank you, peanut gallery for making the argument used throughout time to defend the practice.

In truth, many NFL coaches past and present would not allow hazing at all and had close teams and, indeed, successful teams without it.

Bill Walsh, who won four Super Bowls for the San Francisco 49ers, would not allow rookie hazing. Pete Carroll, whose Seattle Seahawks just won the Super Bowl, does not condone rookie hazing.

"The way Bill saw it, if you hazed rookies you might get them so scared they couldn't focus on the game," running back Roger Craig said in the book 100 things 49ers fans should know and do before they die.

"You might destroy their confidence. So Bill didn't allow that. After all they were there to help us win more Super Bowls."

The Dolphins have had rookie hazing since, well, perhaps 1966 when the team was founded. Don Shula allowed it. But Shula's pragmatism always took precedence over tradition. Yes, the Dolphins had a tradition of hazing, but Shula believed more in the idea of winning.

And when tradition threatened winning, tradition lost.

In 1994, first-round pick Tim Bowens was ordered by veterans to sing in front of the team in keeping with the hazing tradition. Bowens refused and actually started packing his bags to leave the team and head home to Mississippi.

Shula stepped in.

Bowens didn't have to sing. He didn't have to be hazed.

All he had to do was play well and help the team win. 

April 07, 2014

Burleson would have been insurance Dolphins still want

The interest in Nate Burleson by the Miami Dolphins was not so acute that they would get into a bidding war with the Cleveland Browns. Indeed, it was portrayed to me as a chance to investigate a solid veteran receiver who might be available at a relatively inexpensive price.

Burleson signed a one-year contract with Cleveland instead.

But the interest the Dolphins had raises some questions because it suggests the team saw the opportunity to purchase something that should not go unnoticed and now is unattended: Insurace for the health of Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline.

Gibson and Hartline finished last season with knee injuries. Both are expected back for 2014 and, indeed, Hartline is conservatively expected back for June's mandatory minicamp, if not earlier. Gibson, who suffered a more serious patellar tendon tear in New England last October, is expected back at some point in training camp in late July and August.

But no amount of optimism about the recovery of two-thirds of the Miami starting receiver corps overshadows the fact the Dolphins felt a desire if not a need to shop for insurance (in the person of Burleson) against the possibility one of the two receivers (more likely Gibson) might not be ready for the 2014 season.

This raises the question whether the Dolphins will continue shopping for that insurance now that Burleson has gone to Cleveland? I believe the answer is yes. If another veteran receiver who the Dolphins think can be a good locker room add at a relatively cheap price comes along, I'd expect the Dolphins to show interest.

It speaks to having a secondary plan in case Plan A doesn't play out to script.

The script the Dolphins are operating under says Gibson and Hartline will be ready to play the 2014 regular season. Look for general manager Dennis Hickey to continue looking for opportunities to hedge his bet ... just in case the script doesn't go as planned.

April 03, 2014

Seantrel Henderson unable to finish Pro Day

Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey and head coach Joe Philbin attended the University of Miami's Pro Day today and one of the players they obviously wanted to put eyes on was offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson.

Henderson, 6-8 and 344 pounds, might be a project later-round draft pick and the Dolphins are obviously in the market for young, cheap offensive tackles.

But the view the Dolphins got of Henderson was not as good as hoped. Henderson was unable to finish his workout and by several accounts did not impress in the drills he did complete. The University of Miami, unlike other universities, keeps the workouts closed to the media so this is all second-hand from witnesses and sources.

Henderson did not speak with the media after the workout. David Levine, Henderson's agent, told The Herald's Barry Jackson that Henderson felt dehydrated and sick and that was the reason he had to stop.

Whatever the reason, it is not good news for the player. You may recall Henderson was once one of the country's most prized prep recruits. He initially committed to USC and then went to Miami when the NCAA hammer came down on the Trojans.

But he never lived up to his reputation at Miami. He was suspended multiple times. He was often out of shape. And he failed to solidify himself as the dominant linemen his physical gifts suggested he could become.

Will this scare the Dolphins away? Henderson was one of the players they wanted to closely study and that review will continue, with a local visit to the team's training facility next week.

At that point Henderson will have to explain what happened today.

[Update: Henderson bench pressed 225 pounds 23 times. He checked in at 6-7 and 339 pounds. He was 331 pounds at the NFL combine.]

WR Nate Burleson visiting Dolphins today

The Dolphins have shown no intention of standing pat as the bargain-hunting portion of free agency is well underway and to prove it, beyond the signing of Jason Fox on Wednesday, the team is bringing in veteran receiver Nate Burleson today, per sources.

Steve Wyche (Miami Herald alum) of NFL AM was the first to report the story.

Frankly, this one is a little curious. Burleson is not young (32), he's not particularly fast (4.51) and he's not particularly big (6-foot). He might be cheap, agreeing to a veteran minimum salary contract because he's coming off a two unimpressive years in Detroit.

Still, I do not get it.

Burleson isn't really an upgrade over any of Miami's top four wide receivers -- Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson or Rishard Matthews. He obviously could be a good experienced backup as a No. 5 wide receiver to guard against Hartline or Gibson not being fully recovered from last year's knee injuries.

But the No. 5 wide receiver rarely makes it to the game-day roster and when he does, usually has to play special teams. I don't think Burleson would be enthusiastic about either of those two ideas because he hasn't returned a punt since 2009 nor a kick since 2010.

Another thing: This draft is deep in WR talent. Rookies cost one-third against the cap that a veteran such as Burleson costs. 

This move reeks of something else being afoot. It demands explanation.

On the other hand, Burleson hasn't exactly been in demand so maybe ....

Dolphins need to let Mike Wallace run up on safeties

The last week of seemingly non-stop coverage of DeSean Jackson got me to thinking about, what else, the Miami Dolphins.

Much like the Eagles a season ago with Jackson, the Dolphins have a lightning-fast wide receiver in Mike Wallace. Unfortunately, the Miami coaching staff failed miserably to maximize Wallace and so he caught 73 passes for 930 yards and five touchdowns.

That's good, but not dynamic player good, not $60 million contract good.

But here's the thing, if the Dolphins in 2014 apply some of the principles to Wallace the Eagles applied last year to Jackson, there is a very good chance Wallace's statistics will grow to dynamic proportions.

And, with new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor coming from his job as the Eagles quarterback coach a year ago, he is perfectly suited to apply those principles to the equally explosive Wallace that Eagles coach Chip Kelly applied to Jackson.

More specifically, I'm talking about how the Eagles moved Jackson around -- sometimes putting him in the slot -- so that he could use his speed against a linebacker or a No. 2 or No. 3 cornerback and then deep against the safety.

If you'll look at the highlights below, you'll see at the 3:30 mark, Jackson in the slot against Tampa Bay. (I'm sure former Bucs personnel man and current Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey loved seeing this). And the Bucs play a zone with a LB under and a safety over the top.

Well, Jackson runs out of the LB's zone in a blink and the safety is not nearly fast enough to pick him up over the top.

The touchdown is caused because Jackson is extremely fast. But it also happens because the Eagles gave Jackson a matchup that allowed his gifts to simply blow away the Tampa scheme.

The Dolphins didn't do that last year with Wallace. He lined up 90 percent of the time on the right side of the line of scrimmage out wide. He rarely went into the slot. He rarely motioned.

Look again at the 5:27 mark of the highlights against the Vikings. The Eagles line up Jackson in the slot and the Vikings answer by matching up with safety Robert Blanton.

How do you think that went?

Jackson ran up on the safety and left him in the dust.

Lazor saw this time and again last season. He has a player on the Miami roster that offers exactly the same kind of explosion as Jackson.

If he's smart, Lazor will give Wallace the chance to run up on safeties in 2014 as Jackson did last year for his Eagles. The results could be dynamic.

 

April 02, 2014

Dolphins add OT and WR

Busy day for the Dolphins ...

Right tackle Jason Fox, who is visiting the Dolphins today, has signed a one-year deal with the team, according to a league source. ProFootballTalk.com was the first to report the signing. I don't expect this will be much more than a minimum salary type addition.

[Update 1:44: The Dolphins have confirmed the signing.]

[Update 1:51: An NFL source tells me Fox got $795,000.]

Meanwhile, the previous blog discussed how the Dolphins are not in the market for high-end wide receiver but will be adding receivers for the bottom of the roster, for depth, for special teams possibilities and he will preferrably be a bigger body type.

Well, the Dolphins have agreed to terms with receiver Kevin Cone, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Cone is 6-2 and 216. He is what former Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland would have termed an acorn. Despite four years of experience, Cone has one career reception.

He has played 28 career games but most of the work has come on special teams.

Clearing out the notebook: Free agent Fox visits, more

The Dolphins are bringing in former Detroit Lions right tackle Jason Fox, formerly a University of Miami standout, for a visit, according to a league source.

The idea of Fox is to add a veteran presence and competition for the right tackle spot that currently has no clear cut starter at the position. If all else fails, Fox offers depth for the position, assuming he signs.

Fox, 25, has started only three games in his four NFL seasons.

This is not the right tackle answer for the Dolphins. This would be a move to shore up depth.

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The Dolphins have the second-most salary cap space in the AFC East this morning with $16,680,752. They have only 58 players under contract and that represents the fewest players under contract of any team in the NFL.

But the interesting thing is the players the Dolphins have under contract generally represent the core of the 2014 team.

Said another way, if you look at the Dolphins current roster, you can pluck out the starter or potential starter at every position except only two -- right tackle and one of the guard spots. And even at guard, the Dolphins have players on the roster such as Dallas Thomas, Nate Garner and Sam Brenner, who will likely get an opportunity to compete for the starting job.

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I care about Dolphins fans. I work for Dolphins fans.

And so I try to keep a finger on the pulse of what you're talking about and one thing that I simply cannot understand is the constant conversation about the wide receiver position.

It seems, based on some of what I've heard, that Dolphins fans think the team should add more wide receiver talent. And I'm talking serious talent.

When DeSean Jackson was cut by Philadelphia last week, fans asked me on twitter about the chances the Dolphins would chase him. A couple of bigtime Dolphins fans were discussing picking a wide receiver in the first round on twitter this morning.

I. Do. Not. Get. It.

The Dolphins wide receiver corps may indeed get three or four young players infused into it before the offseason is over. But those players will be back-of-the-roster possibilities.

I doubt seriously it will be a first-round pick.

Why?

Mike Wallace.

Brian Hartline.

Brandon Gibson.

Rishard Matthews.

Those are your four receivers on game day. And to answer the questions before they arise, Wallace is not being traded according to club sources, Hartline will be ready for the offseason camps after suffering a knee injury in the season-finale, and Gibson is on schedule to be recovered by the start of the regular season, according to a source, after blowing out a knee at New England last October.

So where is there room for a first-round pick? With the money committed to Wallace, Hartline and Gibson, where is the logic in investing more money in a player in free agency when the right tackle spot is bare and the tight end spot needs depth?

The Dolphins would like to add a bigger receiver type. Most of their receivers, outside of Armon Binns, are on the midsize body type. They'd like to add a bigger target receiver. But not at a high price. Not early in the draft, barring the dropping of Mike Evans to No. 19.

Wide receiver is a spotlight position. So I understand the attention. But the Dolphins seem to have the spotlight position covered, for now.

April 01, 2014

Shelley Smith: Line has potential 'to be really good'

Shelley Smith will be asked to both pass protect and run-block on the Dolphins offensive line -- either at left or right guard, which has not be determined yet -- but make no mistake, Smith loves run blocking over pass blocking.

"For me, a big thing is I try to play hard for a whole sixty minutes," Smith said today. "I try to be consistent with what I do. I'm sure most offensive linemen you'd talk to would say they love run-blocking and I love run-blocking."

Smith is not a certain starter, at least coaches have given him no guarantees. He'll have to earn his spot in a competition. But he's got the added advantage of being a scheme fit, according to the Dolphins.

"We had some knowledge of Shelley through John Benton, our head offensive line coach, who worked with Shelley," said general manager Dennis Hickey. "He had nothing but good things to say about Shelley not only as a player but as a person, which is always important for us. And as we watched the film and say the fit for the scheme we'll be employing under [offensive coordinator] Bill Lazor, we just like the fit."

Hickey noted Smith's "athleticism, his ability to climb to the second level and do a lot of things we're going to ask him to do." Hickey called Smith "an ascending player."

Smith, who visited the Giants and Patriots, said he believed the Dolphins were the best fit for him.

"In the zone blocking scheme, particularly how it was in Houston, they kind of looked for offensive linemen that maybe were more athletic, that can move and open up the holes on the outside zone by stretching out wide," Smith said. "I could fit there a little bit."

The Dolphins have added two offensive lineman so far this offseason after giving up a franchise record and league-leading 58 sacks last year. So far, so good, Smith said.

"There's a lot of potential," he said, "for the line to be really good." 

 

 

 

Dolphins will still be searching for an RB in the draft

Dolphins running back coach Jeff Nixon, on the road meeting with and scouting running backs, conducted a private workout with Towson's Terrance West last Wednesday.

"The Dolphins running backs coach [Nixon] likes me a lot. He told me I was high on his board of college running backs," West wrote in his draft diary for the Baltimore Sun.

"We did board work and met and talked and went over some different plays. It was a good background meeting and we got to know each other.""

And that leads me to this:

Despite the fact the Dolphins just signed Knowshon Moreno, despite the fact they like Lamar Miller, I'm told the personnel department would still like to add one more running back -- likely somewhere between the fourth-fifth rounds -- to add juice and get more talent in the backfield.

That player, from what is considered a deep running back class in this draft, must have one of the following abilities:

He needs to make defenders miss.

Or he needs to be able to break tackles (run through tackles) when the running is hard -- such as in the fourth quarter protecting a lead.

The Dolphins want a clock killer. Sure, they'd take a dynamic, big-play runner. But just as valuable later in the draft is a back who can go in with the team up a field goal with four minutes to play and run the ball against a defense that knows the Dolphins are going to run the ball ... and still gain yardage.

(Peanut gallery: But Mando, the Dolphins already have that guy. His name is Daniel Thomas. He's young, he's 235 pounds. He's relatively fast.)

Welcome back, gallery. No, the Dolphins don't already have that guy. Thomas has done little to prove he's that guy the last three seasons. He hasn't been a bull in short-yardage. He hasn't been a good pass protector. He hasn't been a break-away back on early downs.

Thomas has been Jeff Ireland's guy since the former GM traded up in the second round of the 2011 draft to pick him. Ireland is gone now. Thomas is going to have an interesting time making the team in training camp with his primary advocate gone.

Why?

Well, Thomas is a 3.6 yards per carry guy in his three seasons. And the Dolphins still have hopes for Lamar Miller. And they just added Knowshon Moreno. And if things go according to plan, they plan to select yet another back in the draft.

The numbers don't add up for Thomas.

March 31, 2014

Moreno's resurrection and one reason for success

Last August 17 was a season-changer for Knowshon Moreno. Entering the first week of the 2013 preseason, Moreno was running third-team as a Denver Broncos running back behind Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball.

But during one drive against the Seattle Seahawks, quarterback Peyton Manning attempted a pass that fell incomplete when he was trucked by an onrushing Seattle defender who was not picked up in pass protection by Ball.

Moreno didn't carry the ball at all that game. But he basically outshone Ball by simply not being there when defenders poured through to hit Manning.

Soon after, Moreno was suddenly back in good graces and in need because the Broncos knew Manning couldn't take any more hits from unblocked rushers if they were going to have a good season. Ball out. Moreno in.

The rest is history.

Moreno had the best season of any Broncos back and the best season of his five-year NFL career, rushing for 1,038 yards (4.3 yards per carry average) with 10 touchdowns and 60 receptions for 541 yards and three touchdowns, which also was a career best.

It was Moreno's excellent ability to pass protect that got him back in the Broncos lineup when it seemed the team was ready to go in another direction and it is that ability that made him valuable enough to the Dolphins that they signed him to a one-year deal on Friday.

The Dolphins acquired what seems to be a solid pass protecting third-down back.

Now, Moreno sees himself as more than that (as you will soon read) and he'll have a chance to prove he can be the starter with the Dolphins because the running back competition is likely to be wide open. But if that's the case he'll face challenges he didn't face last year with the Broncos.

The primary challenge for Moreno, indeed, any Dolphins running back, is that they often see loaded tackle boxes. Defenses the last few years, regardless of quarterback, have opted to stop the Miami running game and dare the quarterback to beat them.

So Dolphins running back see 8-man boxes with regularity.

Moreno rarely if ever saw 8-man boxes last year. I studied the cut-ups of three Broncos games last season. Moreno ran against an 8-man box exactly zero times during those games.

None. Not once.

That's because Peyton Manning, seeing a safety down in the box, would slice and dice and turn the opposing secondary into a piece of burnt toast. Very rarely do teams play 8-man boxes against Manning.

Miami's Ryan Tannehill doesn't get that type of respect.

And unless Tannehill makes defenses consistently pay for using 8-man boxes against the Dolphins in the future, Moreno is going to see more loaded tackle boxes than he saw the last couple of season when he played with Manning.

It will be interesting to see how he does.

Moreno talked to South Florida reporters on Friday. This is how the conference call went:

Dolphins General Manager Dennis Hickey introduction -  “I like to say it’s my pleasure and I’m very excited to announce the newest addition to the Miami Dolphins that’s Knowshon Moreno.  Knowshon is a very talented back and we’re very excited to add him to our team.  He’s a back that is coming off a 1,000 yard rushing season in addition to also having 60 receptions.  He’s a three down back that can help our team in a lot of different ways and he’s a tough, passionate football player, the type of mentality that we want to continue to add to our team.  We had a had a great visit with Knowshon last week and we’re very, very excited that we were able to get an agreement here and bring him on board and with that I introduce our newest Dolphin Knowshon Moreno.”

 Moreno:

What was the biggest thing that attracted him sign with the Dolphins and what he feels he can contribute to the team - “I think the main thing was just getting the opportunity to go down and meet with the coaches and meet with the different people working at the facility and just building a short relationship with those guys and coming in and having a good time.  You know when I get out there I’m going to work hard.  Do what I have to do to learn the new system and meet the new guys and build relationship and get to work from there.”

What does it takes to be a zone blocking running back - “At running back you want to be able to do it all.  Outside zone, inside zone or whatever it is, and just follow the blocks.  But in that case I think just going out and make sure I’m doing the right things at practice and just getting better each day.

How many other teams he talked to and if he feels motivated like he has to prove something being on a 1-year deal - “No, I was just concentrated on the Dolphins. I don’t feel pressure to go out because it’s a one-year deal and do anything spectacular.  I’m just going to go out there and make sure I’m doing the right thing, like I said earlier, working hard and competing, at the end of the day just going in and competing.  I’m not expecting anything.  Just go out and work and build those new relationships.”

How much does he feel the experience of getting to Super Bowl as you did last year with Denver will help bring that to a team that has a lot of young players – “I guess it will help.  That’s me coming in, just working hard and showing that leadership, the things I do on the field and off the field.  That was a special time, you know, last year but I’m trying to move on to something new and going to work and building relationships like I said earlier.”

If he feels like running backs are undervalued and that veterans are getting pinched in the situation – “I don’t know.  I know you are going to need running backs in your game so that, like it was said earlier, pass protect and be an outlet for the quarterback and run the ball. And to run the ball you have to versatile especially in this league."

Are you competing for a job or are you the starter – “Definitely competing, especially being a part of a team where anyone can be a starter and I think the same thing at the Dolphins. We are all going to go in and compete and the best man will win and get the job done. We will learn from each other, have fun with each other and at the same time go out there and compete and do what we have to do to help this team.”

What sort of adjustment do you think that means for you going from the veteran in Peyton Manning to a third year starter in Ryan Tannehill who is still learning and developing  – “Every quarterback was in their third year at one time. I am going to come in and do what I have to do and learn from him. He has been in the system and do what I have to do to make sure that I am doing the right things.”

What has he learned from the first five years in the NFL – “A lot of things, a lot of things. Things about the game, about the business and things like that and at the end of the day just learning each year growing as a person, as a man and as a football player.”

Does this have the capability to be a real high profile, high powered offense – “It is going to be whatever we put in this offseason. Going in the guys doing the smart things to work and coming in and doing the right things that we have to do. I think every team in the NFL is going in the same way, going in saying that they can be good and at the end of the day it is going to down to the hard work that we all put in.”

What went so right last year and made it all click – “Just doing the good things throughout the off-season and getting in and make sure that I am doing the right things to my body, doing the extra things after practice and before. Just to make sure that I am not going to stop those things.”

If he had talked to Bill Lazor, the offensive coordinator and what he told him about the offense and what they had planned for him – “Mostly when we met, it was just bonding with each other and getting to know each other like I said earlier. (We) did not talk too much about football, just getting to know each other in that short period of time and just chatting.”

If he is disappointed that he is not going to have the opportunity to return to the Broncos – “It is what it is, like you said, it’s a business. I am just every excited to be apart another team with a great group of guys, coaches all coming in and building for a certain goal and that goal is to work hard and win. So I am just excited for the opportunity.”

The feeling meeting with Coach Philbin and what type of coach he is going to be compared to (John Fox) who you played under in Denver – “You know what, they are both family guys. (They are) both generous, genuine guys, player kind of guys. Just good people. You really want to be surrounded by good people and it’s no different with the Dolphins.”

March 26, 2014

Evan Mathis trade will be discussed, but actually done?

Yes, Eagles Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis is available in trade, as multiple NFL media have reported today.

Yes, the Dolphins could use an upgrade at guard, as the entire Earth knows. So the issue will be discussed internally. And former Eagles assistant Bill Lazor, now the offensive coordinator with the Dolphins, will obviously be part of that discussion. Lazor knows intimately what the Eagles coaching staff thought of Mathis throughout last season.

So naturally, the question becomes would the Dolphins be interested in Evan Mathis enough to try to get him?

I do not know for sure.

But let's examine the facts ...

Mathis is 32 years old. He'll be 33 in November. That's not a good thing. That's a bad thing. The Dolphins had zero interest in 32-year-old guard Travelle Wharton this offseason despite his solid play for Carolina in 2013.

Mathis has a contract that will pay him $5.15 million this year in base salary, $5.5 million in 2015 when he's 33-34 years old and $6 million in 2016 at age 34-35 years old during the season. I understand why the Eagles are trying to trade him.

It is not a good guard contract for the team because of the player's advancing age. You can happily pay $5 million a year for a 25-29-year-old guard who is a Pro Bowl player and rated 2013's best NFL guard by ProFootballFocus.com, as Mathis was. But at age 32-33? That is something of a stretch.

The Eagles also want compensation for Mathis. Understandably so. He's really good.

But to give up a valuable draft pick -- anything between the first through fourth round -- in one of the deepest drafts in a while for a player who may not be around in two years is also something of a desperation move.

Combine the two -- paying the big base salaries and giving up a draft pick and the deal is not exactly a slam dunk.

Obviously, the Dolphins could ask Mathis to redo his contract. Well, if that's the case, he'd probably like a raise rather a trim in salary. Hard to do.

They could wait on the Eagles to simply cut Mathis, which seems like a possibility because they want to get out from under the contract, but then the player becomes a free agent and is able to negotiate with other teams.

So the Dolphins face a question. Do they solve their guard issue short-term at a very, very steep price?

Or do they go into the draft and try to resolve the issue at a much lower cap hit with a player who is young and has his better days ahead of him?

Obviously the latter includes the unknown of whether the selected player turns out to be good or not.

These are the questions GM Dennis Hickey and his team will have to answer. 

Please Dolphins, cut the PC stuff and speak plainly

Sometimes a politically correct climate forces right-thinking people to keep quiet or not act and speak as they believe so as to simply avoid a backlash from the herd.

For whatever reasons, the Dolphins have been doing some of this recently.

The politically correct issue the team is dealing with is the idea of workplace conduct. It is a pet topic for the NFL now because of the Dolphins' harassment scandal, because of racially charged exchanges between players and between players and game officials, and because of the fact a player, Michael Sam, has announced himself as being gay, and so his inclusion into a locker room without any reproach is vital to the NFL.

But here's the thing: In trying to not offend and be inclusive and embracing relativism over what is simply right and wrong, the NFL is also asking us to at times suspend knowledge of what we know to be the truth.

Examples:

The Dolphins are never, ever, ever, ever going to let Richie Incognito return to their team. He had a terrible effect on the locker room, as evidenced by the Wells Report, and he's got some sad and troubling emotional issues he must clear up.

But are the Dolphins saying this?

Nope.

Someone has concocted marching orders to everyone in the organization that rather than plainly say what is true -- that the Dolphins have decided to go in another direction with Incognito -- the team is hiding behind the veil of free agency so as to not say what is obvious.

"I only want to talk about people on our roster," owner Stephen Ross said Tuesday when asked if Incognito had any shot of returning to the team. "As you know, he's a free agent and we'll sign those people who will better our team and make us a better football team."

The craziness of this? Ross himself two months ago, at the press conference to introduce Dennis Hickey as the general manager, said Incognito wasn't coming back. (He also said Jonathan Martin wasn't coming back and he's since been traded.)

So why the softening of a stance that doesn't merit softening? I mean, is Incognito going to sue the Dolphins if they make a business decision not to re-sign him? No. Are fans going to be up in arms if the team says the man most prominently named as an antagonist in the Wells Report isn't coming back? No. Fans mostly care about who is replacing Incognito.

Yet, the Dolphins have gone limp on their response. Hickey gave the same answer on Incognito, not wanting to address the guard's status because he's no longer under contract. But in the same presser he address tight end Dustin Keller, who also is not under contract.

Why walk on eggshells?

Then there's the question of Mike Pouncey. He also is named in the Wells Report. He also participated in the alleged harassment of Martin, according to the report. Indeed, in the report Pouncey said his best friends on the team were Incognito and John Jerry, the third primary Martin antagonist named in the report.

Pouncey must also submit to that "medical evaluation" commissioner Roger Goodell talked about as being necessary before the three players can participate in the 2014 season.

Well, Jerry is gone in free agency. Incognito isn't coming back (despite Miami's newfound mumbo-jumbo on the matter). But Pouncey is definitely going to continue with the Dolphins and indeed his future with the team is bright.

Pouncey is considered a team leader. When the Dolphins signed Branden Albert, they invited two players to a dinner to celebrate the moment. Those two players are quarterback Ryan Tannehill and ... Mike Pouncey.

Bottom line: The Dolphins see Pouncey as a candidate for rehabilitation from the harassment scandal while Incognito and Jerry were as tumors that needed to be removed. Indeed, Ross painted Pouncey as something of a victim himself.

"I think everybody could look back and reflect. We all get caught up with certain things and you go with it," Ross said.

But can we get away from the PC stuff here and get to the crux of the matter? You know why Pouncey is still in good standing with the organization while the other instigators of the harassment and even Martin as the "victim" were dispatched?

Because Mike Pouncey is an outstanding NFL players. And the other guys really weren't.

Pouncey is 24 years old. He's got a great future ahead of him. He's bound to get better. And the Dolphins would be silly to get rid of him. Period.

That is the reason he's sticking around despite what the Wells Report alleged.

Yet the Dolphins are still tap dancing around this fact. When asked Tuesday if the team would excersise its option in May to add a fifth year to Pouncey's contract, coach Joe Philbin said the issue had not been discussed.

Whaaat?

You have a Pro Bowl player on the roster entering the final year of his contract and you can extend it by one year because that is your option under the collective bargaining agreement, and the idea hasn't been floated internally?

We're supposed to buy that?

The Dolphins not only will use the option on Pouncey but they're going to have to extend Pouncey's contract to keep him on the team.

But alas, political correctness prohibits the team from saying so right now as the NFL talks of "medical evalations" and locker room respect, perhaps because it might look like Miami is embracing one of the so-called bullies in the Wells Report. 

I say we cut through the PC stuff and call it how it is.

Mike Pouncey stays because he's good. Richie Incognito isnt coming back because he's troubled and caused trouble. The Dolphins will use the option year on Pouncey because, altogether now, he's good. John Jerry went because he's not that good. 

See how much easier all that is?

March 25, 2014

Joe Philbin talks at the NFL annual meeting

ORLANDO -- It was morning Joe at the NFL annual meeting today.

That's Dolphins coach Joe Philbin with the media ... And here are the highlights:

[Keep refreshing as I will add more items as quickly as I can type.]

On the status of Mike Pouncey going forward, Philbin said he has not been told that his starting center will miss time either because he's in NFL mandated counseling or because he will be suspended. But Philbin could not guarantee Pouncey will be available for every game.

"We've been in contact, as you guys are well aware, with the National Football League since the onset of this. It's been five months roughly since the onset of November 1st and we've been coordinating with them throughout," Philbin said. "This is a decision the commissioner has made so we're going to continue to work through this with the National Football League and draw this to a conclusion.

"This is where we're at today and we'll continue to work through it."

Philbin declined to say if Pouncey, on the leadership counsel a year ago and invited to the dinner to welcome new free agent signing Branden Albert, remains a team leader.

"The offseason program doesn't begin until April 21st," he said. "I have a lot of faith in the guys in our locker room. I have a lot of faith in Mike Pouncey. And so we'll see. But in terms of the leadership counsel and all those things, I've given a lot of thought to it and haven't made any commitments as to how we're going to do it next year. We'll give all that ample consideration."

Philbin also said the club has not made a decision whether to exercise the fifth-year option year for Pouncey.

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Philbin, who admitted he had a few sleepless nights as a result of the harassment scandal that plagued the Dolphins, has been doing a lot of reflecting since the end of the season.

"Let's be honest, guys, every offseason since I've been coaching and I'm going into my 31st year, you always think of ways you can do your job better," he said. "As I examined some of the things that as the head coach of the Dolphins I can do better, I think the visibility factor can be a difference. That's one of the things I'm going to do. It's not that I've never been but I think what happens sometimes to coaches is you're conflicted with, 'Should I watch that blitz tape. Gosh, I got to get that third down film watched.' And sometimes it's better use of a head coach's time to walk through the training room, walk through the locker room, walk through the hallways. It's not that I've never done that stuff, but it's fair to say I'm going to do it more."

I asked Philbin what he's going to do to make sure his players and his assistants bring their issues to him. Philbin has previously told players and others to do so but last year it was shown that Jonathan Martin chose to keep his treatment by other players away from Philbin's attention for fear of being cast a snitch. Also, offensive line coach Jim Turner basically lied to Philbin when the coach asked if certain things that were being alleged were actually happening.

Turner told Philbin they were not.

Not only were they happening, but Turner apparently was part of the problem.

"Well, I mentioned the visibility," Philbin said. "I think accessability also is important. They're a little bit tied together. In the NFL, everybody doesn't want to be the bearer of bad news. The head coach is busy. Don't bother him. He's watching film. He's doing this or doing that. We got to get away from that. I frankly have to be a little more vigilant in my enforcement of policies and proceedures that I want to have in the locker room and the program. That falls on me.

"But there has to be better communication both ways. From them to me to me to them. Players to me. Me to players. That's something I felt, as you have a little bit of time to reflect on things, certainly needs to improve."

More: "The teaching atmosphere, the coaching atmosphere, as I said many times and I firmly believe this, I'm the one responsible for the workplace conduct. When the player walks in the building until he leaves, I'm setting the schedule. So it's up to me to make sure it's done properly."

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Philbin said "injury issues" curtailed the progress of several players in the 2013 draft class. Obviously he's talking about Jamar Taylor and Dion Jordan.

Philbin said Jordan was limited because he had the shoulder surgery just before the draft, had a limited lifting program, didn't have an OTAs and missed part of training camp. But this year, "with a full offseason," for Jordan the Dolphins want to see his snaps increase.

"He's going to have to get more snaps on first and second down," Philbin said.

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Philbin said the team's focus is to keep Jordan at defensive end. And he shot down a report from a month or so ago that said the Dolphins were unhappy with Jordan's work ethic.

"I'm not sure where that came from, I've said I'm expecting him to make a signficant jump from year one to year two," Philbin said. "He's definitely a hard worker."

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Philbin showed a little sense of humor. He was asked about the addition of Bill Lazor as the new offensive coordinator and said the coach promised Ryan Tannehill would have the third-highest quarterback rating of all the rookies from the 2012 draft class.

You'll remember last year Mike Sherman promised Tannehill would be the most improved QB from the '12 class. Philbin remonstrated with Sherman about that prediction, which didn't turn out.

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Philbin said the Dolphins studied the tape "extensively" on Cortland Finnegan and "we liked what we saw on film."

But ...

"He's going to have to earn play time like anyone else," Philbin said. "One thing we do like is he gives us some position flexibility. After watching the cutups, we thought Jimmy Wilson played well. Finnegan played some inside, he played outside."

And the Dolphins have high hopes for Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.

"We expect to see progress there," the coach said.

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Philbin said Lamar Miller's pass protection improved as the year went on "but there's still room for improvement there." Where Miller must definitely improve to stay in the mix to carry the football is offering more explosive runs.

"There was definitely development," Philbin said. "As we look to year three, we want a couple of more explosive runs. I think his pass protection improved but there's still room for improvement there as well. I think he can do all three thing you want a running back to do. He's got good running skill, he can pass protect, he can catch the ball."

Philbin added "we're not opposed to adding" a running back to the competition "if that's the best thing for the team."

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Philbin said the team still isn't fully certain where home is for Dallas Thomas -- right tackle or guard.

"I really like what he's doing so far in the offseason," Philbin said.

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The Dolphins run defense has declined each of the past two years. Philbin pointed to missed tackles, fundamentals, technique, gap issues as the reason.

"We have what we call a run fit period where we practice the run defense for the various fronts we'll see," Philbin said, "and sometimes the carryover from practice to the game hasn't been good. The run-fits and the tackling are the primary culprits."

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Philbin said he believes Dannelll Ellerbe will "make progress" in his second year in the middle for the Dolphins but ... "again, we haven't ruled out any combination or possibility of shuffling guys. We'll see."

Overall, in assessing the linebacker play, Philbin used the word "inconsistency" to describe their play.

"There was productivity there but we need to get more consistency out of the linebacker position, without a doubt," he said.

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It was interesting to me that Philbin said he wanted improved play-speed from safety Reshad Jones in 2014 while also saying the play-speed and tempo and playing downhill was the most attractive thing the team saw in new safety Louis Delmas.

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Speaking of play-speed, the Dolphins like that in new guard Shelley Smith. They also liked his ability to pull and run and move and get to to the second level, Philbin said.

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General manager Dennis Hickey addressed the media for approximately 15 minutes today. Appreciate that. But he didn't really say anything notable other than ...

Recently signed Shelley Smith and Sam Brenner are among the players the team will consider as backup center options. That's important as the possibility of Pouncey missing time at the start of the season looms.

Hickey, who brought in middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson for a visit and offered him a contract, interestingly would not commit to Dannell Ellerbe as Miami's middle linebacker when asked what the Dolphins plans for him are in 2014.

"We always look at, and Joe part of his core philosophy, same with me is putting players in the best position to be successful and help us win," Hickey said. "Dannell is a great player. We really like Dannell and that's part of the process as we go through -- again, whether it's offense, defense or special teams -- putting them in position to help us win."

Time out.

The Dolphins signed Ellerbe to a five-year, $34.75 million contract with $14 million guaranteed so he could be their middle linebacker. He replaced Karlos Dansby as the Dolphins middle linebacker. And one year later neither the head coach nor general manager can absolutely, positively say he is the team's middle linebacker going forward.

If that doesn't raise some red flags and eyebrows and whatever else denotes curiousity, I don't know what does.

March 24, 2014

Dolphins ticket sales UP double-digit percent from year ago

ORLANDO -- Dolphins season ticket sales have made a dramatic jump this offseason over last year with renewals up 12 percent from a year ago at this time and new season ticket sales up approximately as much -- about 12 percent -- from a season ago, according to the team.

This is a good sign for the team that last year did not get the big ticket sales bump it hoped for after an aggressive free agency period and draft that included a trade-up to the No. 3 overall pick. This year, in the wake of season in which the team failed to make the playoffs for the 11th time in a dozen years, fans are reacting quite favorably to the team's pitch to buy tickets.

"We're pacing 12 percent above this time last year," Dolphins president and CEO Tom Garfinkel said Monday. "We actually started renewals three months later than we did last year because of our new membership program and how we're doing it. So we started three months later and in spite of that we're 12 percent higher than we were at this time last year."

The Dolphins were dealt a public relations blow during the 2013 season when the NFL harassment scandal hit the headlines. But so far the scandale hasn't adversely affected sales -- suggesting it may not at all.

Indeed, on Feb. 15, one day after the Wells Report detailing the troubles among some players in the Dolphins locker room was released, the Dolphins had a ticket sales event at the stadium.

And it was a grand success.

"We had record new sales in one day," Garfinkel said. "We sold over 1,500 new season tickets for a lot of dollars in one day because of the event we had."

Garfinkel says the Dolphins are doing business a different way in order to sell their product. Rather than sales over the phone, the team is inviting fans to come to Sun Life Stadium and experience the atmosphere of what a game day can be like.

And there are other changes ...

""We've tripled our service staff," Garfinkel said. "We've created dedicated service. We've changed the service model quite a bit.

"We're communicating with fans as much as we can. We've added dedicated service reps. We've added benefits. We've added a lot of things. So we're on top of that part of it -- touching our fans, talking to them, communicating with them, getting in front of them. That helps. There's a lot of things we changed and that helps. So far it's pacing well. We still have a long way to go."

In recent years, South Florida had turned away from the Dolphins and found other ways to spend discretionary income -- perhaps with the Heat or some other way. Season ticket sales dropped in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

But Garfinkel believes Dolphins fans are responding positively again.

"I'd say we're very fortunate to have a fan base that has a deep connection to the team," he said. "That's something I continue to be blown away by when I talk to fans."

March 23, 2014

Steve Ross: Not worried about the offensive line

ORLANDO -- Are you worried about the Dolphins offensive line situation today? Club owner Stephen Ross isn't, even though the team has obvious holes at right tackle and at least one guard spot.

"I'd be worried if it was all taken care of by now," Ross said Sunday after he arrived at the NFL annual meeting. "We know it has to be addressed and it will be addressed the right way."

Ross said the Dolphins have a plan for addressing the line and added, "We'll get a right tackle in the draft and then we'll see what else he have to get."

The annual meeting begins Monday morning. Among the major topics of discussion among owners will be workplace conduct -- that includes both on field use of the N-word and taunts of any kind as well as locker room behavior.

The Dolphins last season suffered what was recognized leaguewide as a failure to monitor and handle behavior in the locker room among players and some staff. That failure led directly the Dolphins firing an offensive line coach, the team's head trainer, and making a decision to not bring back Richie Incognito, John Jerry and trading Jonathan Martin.

It is possible Ross will be asked to give an update on what the Dolphins have done and will continue to do going forward to avoid a repeat of 2013.

March 21, 2014

Giants announce signing of John Jerry

The Giants announced moments ago they have signed free agent guard John Jerry.

Jerry, who had lukewarm interest from Oakland as well but very little (any?) from the Dolphins, has been a starter for the Dolphins the past two seasons. He actually has started 45 of 57 games with Miami.

But he's not been a good player, however.

Atop the fact Jerry has been mostly just a guy is the fact he was prominently mentioned in the Wells report as one of those harassing former Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin. Jerry faces possible sanctions for his role in the scandal.

Jerry's time with the Dolphins will be most noted for being the player the Dolphins picked in the third round of the 2010 draft instead of former University of Miami tight end Jimmy Graham.

That, folks, says it all.

Comparing strategy: GM decisions have consquences

Championships are not won in March. Everyone's heard that right?

Well, in the NFL that is true but it is also true that decisions by NFL front offices this time of year have consequences. And there is indeed much winning and losing going on right now.

As this offeseason progresses, indeed, as free agency eventually bleeds into the draft and teams morph toward improvement or decline, what is happening right now is likley at the root of that future change.

And so I present to you a comparison of multiple teams and multiple relatively new general managers.

Their decisions, in the open for all to see, will be remembered and judged in the coming year as we measure how much what happened this March affects their teams from September through January.

The GMs we look at today?

John Idzik of the New York Jets.

Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals.

Tom Telesco of the San Diego Chargers.

Ray Farmer of the Cleveland Browns.

Dennis Hickey of the Miami Dolphins.

All are in their first or second offseasons with their teams. All made intertwined decisions this offseason that will be measured against each other for the next year.

To wit:

On March 5 the St. Louis Rams did as expected and released cornerback Cortland Finnegan. The move was a no-brainer. Finnegan, who played poorly for the Rams in 2013, saved the team clear $4 million in cap space at his release.

Four days later, the New York Jets, hoping to clear cap space, cut cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The move was a no-brainer. Cromartie, who played poorly at times for the Jets in 2013, saved the team $4.3 million in cap space at his release.

And then is when the GMs we mentioned went to work.

Hickey, wanting a cornerback who could compete for a starting job but also perhaps play the slot against multiple receiver sets, brought in one cornerback and signed him. He selected Finnegan, 30, and paid him $11 million over two years. The contract paid Finnegan $5.45 million guaranteed in 2014.

Idzik, wanting to upgrade at cornerback, instead brought in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and apparently tried to get a short-term prove-it deal done with him. It wasn't until the crosstown New York Giants stepped up with a big offer that Idzik, flush with cap room, also presented a better deal.

Too late.

DRC picked the Giants. Cromartie, who had earlier said he'd like to retire with the Jets, was still on the market but by then had already visited the Arizona Cardinals. And Keim, who last year did a good job bringing in several veterans on prove-it deals including former Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby, struck before Idzik could recover.

The Cardinals signed Cromartie, 29 and with experience in both press and off-man schemes, to a one-year deal worth $3.25 million plus another $250,000 as a per game roster bonus. The bonus is paid on a per game basis at $15,625.

So two corners at or nearing 30. Three general managers. Two deals.

Well, Idzik got no one. The Jets today are searching for cornerback help and will likely have to look to the draft for it.

The Dolphins got Finnegan for the most expensive contract that actually includes guaranteed money.

The Cardinals got Cromartie for the least expensive contract that has no guaranteed money.

[Update: The official Cromartie contract is in and it does have guaranteed money, although he's still at $3.25 million this year. He got a $1 million signing bonus and his base salary of $2.25 million is guaranteed.]

Which GM won? That will be determined during the season when we can compare how Cromartie vs. Finnegan vs. air works out for the three teams. (Air has trouble playing press-man, by the way).

Right now, it seems Keim has the overall advantage although that can change.

Young general managers also made interesting decisions on running back, too.

When free agency opened, Donald Brown, Ben Tate, Knowshon Moreno, Darren McFadden, Toby Gerhart, Rashad Jennings and others were available.

The San Diego Chargers and Telesco stepped out almost immediately and signed Brown to a three-year, $10.5 million deal. The deal includes $4 million in guarateed money. If you do the math the deal averages $3.5 million per year.

The Cleveland Browns and Farmer, more cautious, nonetheless landed Tate. He signed a two-year deal for $6.2 million with $2.5 million guaranteed. If you do the math the deal averages $3.1 million per season.

Gerhart, the understudy to Adrian Peterson, went to Jacksonville for $10.5 million over three years or $3.5 mill a year apy. McFadden, often injured, remained in Oakland for one year and $1.654 million with only $100,000 guaranteed. 

Today the Dolphins and Hickey are hosting a visit with Moreno. As I noted yesterday, the Dolphins have so far been serious about the players they bring in for visits. So I would expect something to happen today -- at least an offer to Moreno.

So mulitple running backs. None of them stars. All of them accomplished to some degree. All of them experienced and adept in pass protection. All available at the same time to the different general managers.

Do the Dolphins get rewarded for waiting the most by paying the least? Or do they pay the same for Moreno that Cleveland paid for Tate or San Diego paid for Brown?

Hickey paid more once before.

We'll see which general manager actually gets what he paid for -- in January.

March 20, 2014

Moreno to visit the Dolphins Friday

Denver unrestricted free agent running back Knowshon Moreno will meet the Dolphins on a visit Friday, according to a league source.

The Dolphins do not confirm or deny visits until they are over.

The Dolphins are apparently interested in the veteran running back's ability to help a backfield looking for upgrade from Lamar Miller or Daniel Thomas. The Dolphins like Moreno's ability to pass-protect -- something he was adept at while helping to protect Peyton Manning in Denver.

Moreno, 26, is coming off his best NFL season. He rushed for 1,038 yards on 241 carries (4.3 yard-per-carry average) in 16 games for the Broncos. It was the only time in his five years with Denver that Moreno eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.

Moreno also caught 60 passes for 548 yards.

The Dolphins have been looking for a bruiser back -- someone who can break some tackles and help the club in the four-minute offense and protecting the lead. Moreno, at 5-11 and 215 pounds, has not been that in his career.

But Moreno is a good player. He's been dependable, fumbling only once in 241 attempts last year.

The running back market has been a buyer's market this free agency period. No player has gotten a deal worth over $3.5 million per year.

By the way, the Dolphins under Dennis Hickey have been serious about the players they bring in. Every player who has visited has signed except for linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. Every player who visited got a contract offer, including Jackson.

Hickey not picking former boss as assistant GM

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a 4-12 record last year and that got general manager Mark Dominik fired. Meanwhile Bucs director of player personnel Dennis Hickey got promoted to general manager by the Dolphins.

And as Hickey worked for Dominik for quite some time and the two seemed to get along there was speculation that Hickey, now in charge of his own personnel department, might hire Dominik as his assistant general manager.

That seemed particularly possible after Hickey fired former assistant general manager Brian Gaine.

But no.

Dominik today accepted a post at ESPN as an NFL front office "insider." He will appear on the seemingly infinite ESPN platforms -- you know, NFL Insiders, NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN2, ESPN radio, ESPN the bus, ESPN the kitchen utensil, ESPN in your underwear -- to provide commentary and insight.

And while that assignment does not preclude Dominik from joining a front office in the future, it clearly shows he's not joining any NFL front office, including the Dolphins, anytime soon.

The Dolphins don't currently have an assistant general manager as they enter the homestretch of their draft preparations.

The Dolphins, by the way, still don't have a head trainer, either, following the February firing of Kevin O'Neill as a fallout from the Wells Report. And while O'Neill is preparing legal action against the Dolphins for what he apparently believes to be wrongful termination, the Dolphins are going slow methodically in their search for a replacement.

FoxSports1 (sports network that doesn't have a bus or kitchen utensil) reported the search continues with names under consideration including Dave Price, former trainer of the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets, Green Bay Packers assistant trainer Bryan Engel, and Kevin Bastin who was the head trainer for the Houton Texans from 2001-2009.