May 14, 2010

Salguero NFL pre-camp rankings No. 32 to No. 1

For some reason, this morning when I woke up I got this wild hair idea to give you my NFL ranking of teams from 32-1. Six hours later, I'm done writing.

So with no further delay, the Salguero NFL 2010 pre-training camp rankings:

32. Tampa Bay: Gerald McCoy is an upgrade for the defensive line, but folks in Tampa will soon see he's not in Warren Sapp's league -- good not great. The quarterbacking is suspect, they've exchanged experienced WR talent for inexperienced and untried WR talent, the running game is pedestrian, and there is nothing about the coaching staff or front office that induces confidence.

31. St. Louis Rams: Improvement! They were the NFL's worst team last year but the truth is until and unless the Sam Bradford pick takes hold, this team will be struggling near the bottom of the pack. Sorry, Lou, but A.J. Feeley can be a lockerroom killer. And, yes the offensive line will be somewhat better with Rodger Saffold, but the DL, 27th versus the run last year, is a leaky dike.

30. Buffalo: Very few folks with other options want to go to Buffalo -- not bigtime coaches nor players. It's the reason the franchise has struggled since the start of free agency in the mid-1990s. The quarterback situation is unresolved, the defense is transitioning to the 3-4, they dismissed one of their more effective playmakers in Terrell Owens, and everyone else in the division is good. That is no formula for success.

29. Jacksonville: The big free agent signings were, wait for it, a special teams player (Kassim Osgood) and a defender (Aaron Kampman) that had 3.5 sacks last year. They reached in the first round on Tyson Alualu, nobody is showing up to games, this is a train headed in the wrong direction.

28. Detroit: The Lions scored core players in the draft's first round (Suh and Best) while continuing to shore up the secondary in the third round (Amari Spievey). Kyle Vanden Bosch will bring veteran professionalism to the locker room and some solid production to the field. But look out for the biggest jump to come from the quarterback (Matt Stafford) and wide receiver (Calvin Johnson) positions. This team has stopped declining.

27. Oakland: They actually had a good draft! Cryptkeeper Al Davis didn't over-reach or make any head-scratching gambles -- those have backfired in recent history. But this team is still overcoming the mistakes of its recent past (JaMarcus Russell) and the coaching is simply not stellar outside of passing game coordinator Ted Tollner.

26. Cleveland: The Browns have straightened out their front office -- largely by raiding the Dolphins front office -- and are well on their way to returning to, um, mediocrity for the short term. Mike Holmgren and Tommy Heckert Jr. have done fine work turning the CB spot from a weakness to a strength by trading for Sheldon Brown and drafting Joe Haden. If T.J. Ward can stay healthy, the deep secondary is also taken care of. But the Cleveland offense, No. 32 last year, still reeks. Jake Delhomme is highly paid but highly inconsistent. And that will be this offense's story in 2010.

25. Arizona: To recap, they've lost Kurt Warner, Antrel Rolle, Karlos Dansby, Bertrand Berry, Bryant McFadden, and Anquan Boldin. And while I love Dan Williams and Daryl Washington as their first two draft picks, adding aging vets Joey Porter and Alan Faneca is not about getting better but plugging leaks poorly. The Cards, a Super Bowl team in 2008 and division winners in 2009, will be fighting Seattle for third place in the NFC West.

24. Seattle: Leon Washington (if healthy), LenDale White (if motivated) and Russell Okung (if he lives up to his draft status) should help the running game improve on last year's terrible (26th overall) rating. That should also take pressure of Matt Hasselbeck and perhaps help him stay healthy. Simply, if the QB is healthy, the Hawks can vie for mediocrity. If the job falls to Charlie Whitehurst, a talented but inexperienced career backup, it's going to be a looong season. 

23. Washington: They were perhaps the most active team this offseason, hiring an outstanding new coach, trading for a future Hall of Fame quarterback, and adding more horses at running back than a stable at the Kentucky Derby. All that is well and good, but the quarterback is not everything. Donovan McNabb can't do it all. The offensive line, and secondary are question marks. The drafting of Trent Williams will solve some of the OL problems once he gets over his rookie growing pains. 

22. Carolina: One does not get better by losing Julius Peppers, having a coach enter a season as a lame duck, having no first round draft pick, and using the second-round pick on a player (Jimmy Clausen) who probably will not play as he learns the NFL game. As horrible offseasons go, Carolina is right up there. Their best move might have been picking Brandon LaFell in the third round because at least he might start in 2010.

21. Denver: Josh McDaniels acts like he knows things no one else does. So he's traded away a franchise quarterback, a franchise wide receiver, gotten rid of a fine defensive coordinator, reached for Tim Tebow in the first round, traded away his starting TE, and pieced together an offensive line with a ton of question marks and one major injury -- the patellar tendon tear to left tackle Ryan Clady's left knee. McDaniels will also learn that there is a reason Akin Ayodele was cut.

20. Kansas City: New England Midwest got significantly stronger in the defensive backfield this offseason with the drafting of Eric Berry and Javier Arenas, who will be a fine nickel player. The rest of the defense, putrid against the run last year, is still a work-in-progress. The offense should be better with the addition of running back Thomas Jones and center Casey Wiegmann. Both are in the twilight of their careers, but serve as upgrades for this team nonetheless. It'll be interesting to see what new OC Charlie Weis can do for QB Matt Cassell.

19. New York Giants: Yes, this is a surprise but this team is starting to age and not very well. Despite an emphasis on the defensive line, opponents were able to run the ball quite well last season. Adding rookie Linval Joseph will probably only make up for the loss of Fred Robbins. Jason Pierre-Paul is a project player who as a rookie has the feel of a wonderful athlete but only an average football player. He needs much work. The Giants have no backup quarterback, having replaced David Carr with Jim Sorgi. If Eli Manning breaks down, this is a cellar-dwelling team. Otherwise, welcome to third place in the NFC East. Again.

18. Chicago: They were 7-9 despite the fact Jay Cutler threw 26 interceptions. Twenty-six interceptions! If new OC Mike Martz can get Cutler to cut that number in half, the Bears win 10 games this year. The expensive addition of Julius Peppers will work only if the player feels he has to live up to his salary -- something that hasn't always been the case. The return of linebacker Brian Urlacher will help but the release of Alex Brown remains a head-scratcher. Former Dolphins seventh-round pick Devin Aromashodu seems on the verge of stardom.

17. San Francisco: They added a future Pro Bowl player in Mike Iupati but reached badly for Anthony Davis. Safety Taylor Mays will remind the Bay Area of Ronnie Lott in the manner he hits, but definitely not in the manner he covers. The team also improved its return game by getting Ted Ginn for a fifth-round pick -- a good trade for them. But let's face it, the 49'ers look set at most of their positions save quarterback. If Alex Smith can finally become a solid NFL starter, this team wins its division. If Smith continues his roller coaster career, this team once again struggles to win eight games.

16. Pittsburgh: They want to go back to their old pounding running game personality because quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won't be around for at least four games and possibly up to six games. The addition of Maurkice Pouncey to the offensive line will help that. Santonio Holmes is gone so the air around his former hotel room on the road has cleared. But that means second year player Mike Wallace needs to become the star his rookie campaign suggested he could be. The defensive front and linebackers are solid but the cornerback play is still a concern despite the re-aquisition of Bryant McFadden.

15. Houston: Signing a kicker and former Dolphins offensive tackle Wade Smith in free agency, while losing standout cornerback Dunta Robinson is not the way to improve a team. The Texans seem to be forever treading water around the 8-8 mark and this year bodes no differently as the defense seems weakened by the loss of Robinson and coming suspension of Brian Cushing. The offense has made no significant improvement. Matt Schaub will once again have to throw for nearly 5,000 yards to keep the Texans above .500

14. Tennessee: They are counting on this draft to help immediately and last year's draft to finally help because it certainly didn't contribute much in 2009. The Titans are obviously also banking on Chris Johnson being able to continue his torrid rushing pace which could be a reach because he simply doesn't have the size to carry 720 times in two years -- particularly not if he sits out most of the offseason and preseason in a contract squabble. The picking of Derrick Morgan should deaden the pain of losing Kyle Vanden Bosch.

13. New England: I'm sure there will be angry e-mails from Massachusetts. Too bad. Tom Brady is still great, but honestly, he's not working as hard these days as he once did. Wes Welker probably will not be around early in the season and it might take a while before he's 100 percent. The team doesn't have an offensive coordinator or a defensive coordinator and that's just weird. The cornerback spot is still a weakness despite the selection of Devin McCourty in the first round. And the running game ... well, what running game?

12. Philadelphia: The good news: Brandon Graham will be 2010's defensive rookie of the year and he will not fail any drug tests. Nate Allen will be solid in the deep secondary and Ricky Sapp will seem like a bargain if the Eagles let him rush the passer on a situational basis. The bad news: One does not improve by getting rid of a great quarterback and sending him to a division rival. The bet here is Kevin Kolb will not have a better season in 2010 than McNabb had in 2009. And trading away Sheldon Brown will not result in a net gain.

11: Cincinnati: If Antonio Bryant stays healthy and tight end Jermaine Gresham, a tight end with deer speed, is recovered from his knee injury, the Bengals slow-developing offense will finally give quarterback Carson Palmer weapons to work with. The prediction here is that Jordan Shipley will also become a favorite of the veteran quarterback. Cincy's defense is intact and actually improved the depth at corner with the addition of Brandon Ghee. Adam "Pacman" Jones? Special teams help. Nothing more.

10: Miami: They've come a looong way this offseason. Seriously. The addition of Brandon Marshall means the Dolphins finally have a consistent playmaker in the passing game. Adding inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and moving Randy Starks to nose tackle will help solidify the run-defense that fell from No. 10 in 2008 to No. 18 last year. The secondary remains a major question mark with the free safety spot a huge concern. If Chad Henne develops into a top-tier quarterback, this team should be back in the playoffs. If he doesn't, 8-8 here we come.

9: New York Jets: Yeah, they're making Super Bowl noises but that's just what it is -- noise. The Jets didn't improve by switching out Thomas Jones and Leon Washington for Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson. They took a step back which isn't the best way for a running game to go. Their pass-rush, nearly non-existent last year, will be better with the addition of Jason Taylor, and Antonio Cromartie improves the secondary. But left guard is a concern as is at least one defensive end spot.

8: Minnesota: Will he? Won't he? And how is his ankle? All the questions about the Vikings revolve around Brett Favre and whether he'll play his 20th season or not. I believe he'll play. I also believe age will begin catching up to him. Simply, it is hard to expect another 33-TD, 4,200-yard season from a soon-to-be 41-year-old. The Vikings still have an excellent offensive line and running game and can bring pressure on defense, but they don't scare the elite teams with a diminished Favre or Tarvaris Jackson at QB.

7. San Diego: The Chargers upgraded by adding rookie running back Ryan Mathews, who will retrun dowhill running to the San Diego offense. But there is no visible upgrade in trading out Antonio Cromartie for Nathan Vashar and Donald Strickland, who are nothing more than backup players at this point. The idea of eliminating a player that's motivated only 75 percent of the time is a good one, but only when he's replaced by someone as talented and more motivated. The Chargers failed in that regard. This is still a highly talented roster, led by perhaps the NFL's best quarterback.

6. Dallas: The Cowboys have plenty of talent at all positions with the possible exceptions of left tackle and safety. Yes, Alex Barron is now in town and will compete with Doug Free to protect Tony Romo's blind side, but can he stay onside? The team cut Ken Hamlin, who is still on the market, but hasn't really replaced him. Owner Jerry Jones took a huge gamble in drafting Dez Bryant, who is clearly still out of shape after missing most of 2009 at Oklahoma State. But the kid has great potential and seems to be in the right place because he'll get advice from Michael Irvin.

5. Green Bay: The Packers needed to keep their talent early this offseason and did exactly that by re-signing offensive tackle Chad Clifton and rewarding playmaking safety Nick Collins. The other major assignment was shoring up the offensive line and GM Ted Thompson did that by selecting tackle workmanlike Bryan Bulaga with the first overall selection. The rookie might play at guard initially. The Packers are so solid they used their second and third round picks to address possible future needs. 

4. Atlanta: They have the franchise quarterback. Matt Ryan reminds of a young Tom Brady. The passing game and running game are in great hands. The secondary is better with the addition of Dunta Robinson. First round pick Sean Weatherspoon is going to be a star in the NFL someday and will be in sub packages as a rookie. The Falcons will also get an added punch by the return of 2009 first-round pick Peria Jerry to the lineup, after he missed all but two games with a knee injury. This team has the feel of a comer. 

3. Indianapolis: The left guard question remains and there are questions about the return to health of safety Bob Sanders and receiver Anthony Gonzalez. But the Colts don't seem to be sweating the Gonzalez injury based on the expected improvement of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie. On defense, Colts fans are going to love Jerry Hughes and Pat Angerer, who might become core players on the defense for the next decade. Oh yeah, Peyton Manning is pretty good.

2. New Orleans: Charles Grant is gone, but younger, better Alex Brown replaced him. Running back Mike Bell also left via free agency but the bad news is the Saints might have to pass more. Let's face it, the only things that can derail this team are complacency or a wave of injuries. Quarterback Drew Brees is likely to work toward preventing the former. That latter is a matter of fate. 

1. Baltimore: Anquan Boldin gives them an answer for third-down and crunch passing situations. Donte Stallworth comes with a new view of life after spending the past year on suspension. They drafted talented tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson to offer yet more large targets for quarterback Joe Flacco to hit -- assuming Todd Heap isn't on the field, of course. Derrick Mason is back. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed haven't slowed down. Terrell Suggs is healthy again. And while house-sized defensive tackle Haloti Ngata recovers from pectoral surgery, the Ravens will give lots of training camp snaps to condo-sized Cory Redding and mansion-sized Terrence Cody at defensive tackle. Oh, almost forgot, if Suggs and Jarret Johnson and Antwan Barnes aren't getting to the QB enough, the Ravens will probably throw top draft pick Sergio Kindle in the mix as well. They're loaded!

[BLOG NOTE: I'll be off until next Wednesday, so I'll post again then. You have plenty to chew on until then, I'm sure. And remember to read my Sunday column in The Herald or online at on the Herald site because it will explain why I ranked the Jets and Dolphins practically together.]

May 13, 2010

Which players will things 'click' for in 2010?

A dividend of having a young team, as the Dolphins inarguably have, is that players can take significant leaps from their rookie or second seasons, thus helping to raise the team to a much higher level almost overnight.

Sure, some players fail to take that big step or they don't meet the expectations and potential their gifts suggest. (Such players get traded to the San Francisco 49'ers for a fifth-round pick.)

But many up-and-comers make their biggest move in their second or third years.

I was discussing this in part with former wide receiver Nat Moore on our recent day-trip to Haiti when he recounted the story of Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. Moore told of how as a rookie year, Clayton often benefitted from the fact defenses typically doubled Mark Duper on the outside or himself on the inside. Clayton was still learning and really didn't contribute much as a rookie -- six catches for 114 yards.

"But the next year when the light bulb went on for him, there was no stopping him," Moore said of Clayton. "He beat single coverage and then he figured out the game so well, he could beat double-coverage. With his talent, he just took off."

Took off like a rocket, actually. Clayton caught 73 passes for 1,389 yards and a whopping 18 touchdowns in 1984. Duper, who didn't catch a pass as a rookie in 1982, climbed to 51 in 1983 and 71 for 1,36 yards in 1984. Apparently things clicked for him as well.

Well, we should expect the 2010 Miami Dolphins to sound like a field of crickets because I expect there to be a lot of clicking going on for that young roster.

The Dolphins have players that everyone in the organization hopes are on the cusp of being big-time contributors if not outright stars.

Chief on that list is quarterback Chad Henne.

In his third season and second as the starter, Henne must have a breakthrough season for the Dolphins to make a legitimate run at the playoffs. This is the year he has to solve the accuracy and timing issues he had at times in 2009 as a first-year starter. Those were understandable then. There's a next step to take now.

I think Henne will take that step. He's too gifted, too confident, and too hard-working not to take the step. I'm not expecting him to lead the league in passing. That's not what Miami's system is initially going to ask of him.

But 24-25 touchdowns? Why not?

And as long as he keeps the mistakes to maybe 10-12 interceptions, things will be very, very good in Miami.

Of course, Henne will need help. And there's a good chance he'll get it. Here is a list of other players I believe can have a breakout year in 2010. You'll notice some folks are missing. I'm being conservative here. I'm sure you will add the missing names in the comments section.

This is my list:

Brian Hartline: I predict he will win the starting job opposite Brandon Marshall. He is bigger than Davone Bess, faster than Greg Camarillo and he can play all three WR positions. He's a smart guy. He's mature. He gets it. He has shown reliable hands. No, he is not a burner. But he did run track in high school and I believe he's fast enough to hurt defenses when their focus is on Marshall.

Vontae Davis: It took him a while to find his NFL niche. He was raw and a little wide-eyed at first. But he is tough, he is as athletic as they come, he's fearless and there's no quit in him -- as evidence by that TD-saving tackle from behind on a kickoff last year. Davis suffered something of a setback with a wrist injury earlier this offseason. But there has been no mention of that lately and if he continues to rise at the rate he did after the midpoint of 2009, he'll be the second-best cornerback in the AFC East by the end of 2010.

I wanted to include Cameron Wake. I even had his paragraph written up. But I just need to see more. The fact is he was very explosive as a pass-rusher, but still had only one sack the final four games of the season when he was getting his most playing time. Wake might bust out with 14 sacks in 2010 and that would surprise no one. But he also might have six sacks in 2010 and, well, that would surprise no one. It will all depend on whether things clicked for him.

May 11, 2010

The revote on Defensive Rookie of the Year

The Defensive Rookie of the Year award handed out annually by the Associated Press has been in the news lately because its recipient Brian Cushing was just suspended after failing a test for performance enhancing drugs, and then losing his appeal.

The test, reportedly taken last September, suggests Cushing played 2009 while benefitting from a cycle of PEDs that are banned by the NFL.

So the AP yesterday decided to have a revote. The 50 people who vote annually on the AP All-Pro team and post-season awards got an e-mail ballot that is due Wednesday. I am one of those voters. I had no trouble re-submitting my ballot.

I orginally picked Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd as my DROY choice and was only one of six people to do so. Cushing got 39 votes. I simply stuck with my original vote.

The AP also took a revote on the outside linebacker position. In that one, I had to make a change. I had originally voted for Cushing and Elvis Dumervil. In my new ballot I changed out Cushing for DeMarcus Ware, who was an All-Pro selection even without my original vote.

So here is the question: Do you, as fans, believe a positive drug test can rightfully cost a player a post-season award because his performance was enhanced by a drug?

I obviously do think the award deserved a revote. And I'll live with the results of the majority. But I have a bad taste about giving any award to someone who gains it by cheating.

The reason I'm blogging this is that someone following me on twitter wanted me to vote for Vontae Davis or Sean Smith for DROY. Now, I have no problem voting for local guys. In fact, I feel I know them best as I've watched all their games.

That's the reason I voted for Tony Sparano as coach of the year in 2008 (he didn't win) and voted for Jake Long for All-Pro last year (he got it).

But Vontae Davis or Sean Smith for DROY?

I believe both played well at times. I believe both made strides. I believe both will continue to improve and become better players. But both also had moments in which they struggled.

Davis was beaten deep a handful of times. Smith's coverage was not always as tight as one would want and he didn't have any interceptions. In defending Gibril Wilson at the Indianapolis Combine, general manager Jeff Ireland laid some of the blame for the lapses in the secondary on the rookies.

Byrd, meanwhile, had nine interceptions. No, he wasn't Ronnie Lott in run-support. But which one of you wouldn't have taken nine interceptions from your free safety last year?

So I cast my vote. I'm sticking with it.

Discuss ...

Rebuilding can frustrate when it's done over & over

There is building a franchise. Don Shula did that and it resulted in a couple of Super Bowl titles.

There is rebuilding a franchise. Jimmy Johnson did that and the nucleus of players he brought in were flawed on offense, very good on defense, and ultimately good enough overall to contend for playoffs spots from 1997 through 2003.

What we have now, however, is something much different. What we are seeing with the Miami Dolphins now is in some respects rebuilding position that we though had already been rebuilt. Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland are in the midst of doing that and so far the results are mixed.

Miami's dynamic and enigmatic personnel duo corrected a lot of wrongs their first season, turning a 1-15 disaster into a division winner and playoff team. But last year was a step-back season as the Dolphins dropped to third place in the AFC East with a 7-9 record. (Some of you may not accept it was a step-back year, but the facts are impossible to ignore.)

Now, after two years of building the team as they would want it, the Dolphins find themselves in the curious position of rebuilding the same team. 

After two years on the job, Parcells and Ireland got about the business this offseason of rebuilding practically the entire defense. The defensive coordinator is new. At least three of the four opening-day starters at LB will be new. The starting nose tackle will be different in the 2010 regular-season opener than he was in 2008 and 2009. The starting free safety will be new for the third time in three regular-season openers. Miami's right defensive end will be new -- again -- as the Dolphins will start Jared Odrick or Phillip Merling or Tony McDaniel as the fourth person to fill that starting job in three years.

All these are facts. And all the facts speak of the Dolphins having to cover ground in rebuilding that they already supposedly addressed in their initial rebuilding of this team the past two years.

Let's face it, the club has failed to properly address the free safety spot -- first giving the job to Jason Allen, then Chris Crocker, then Renaldo Hill, then Gibril Wilson, and now another player to be named at a later time.

Let's face it, the Dolphins invested two years, a modest draft pick, and millions of dollars in ILB Akin Ayodele only to find out he wasn't very good at stopping the run or in coverage.

Let's face it, the nose tackle position was an issue before last season began. Everyone knew Jason Ferguson was a stopgap measure and I remember Ireland being asked why he didn't address the position in the 2009 draft. He basically answered there are only so many big bodies to go around and one of them didn't fall to the Dolphins.

So Miami went into 2009 with Ferguson and he broke down. The Dolphins finally addressed the issue this offseason by moving Randy Starks to nose tackle.

The greater point here is Miami has reached a stage where the fixes need to finally take. The club cannot keep addressing the defensive line time and again. The club cannot keep addressing the free safety spot year after year.

And this rebuilding upon a rebuilt position also affects the offense. For all the money and resources the Dolphins have invested on the offensive line, the unit is still not completely resolved. In 2008, the right guard spot was an issue. In 2009, the right guard and left guard spots were issues.

Can we get the guards addressed once and for all, please?

The Dolphins believe they have done that at right guard where Richie Incognito is expected to compete for a starting job with Donald Thomas and perhaps Nate Garner.

The left guard spot is much less certain. Garner and rookie John Jerry seem the most likely challengers for the job. Justin Smiley, who Miami signed to a 5-year, $25 million contract in 2008, lasted only two years. He is now on the trade block because of shoulder injuries that one might have seen on the horizon when he was with San Francisco and was forced to miss the latter part of 2007 with a shoulder issue.

So three years into rebuilding their offensive line ... the Dolphins are still rebuilding the offensive line.

My greater point is this: Everyone accepts the Dolphins needed a thorough rebuilding. Everyone accepts it was going to take time to do. But it is hard to accept that the Dolphins are already in Year 3 and still rebuilding what they already supposedly rebuilt. They are having to double-back, so to speak, to address issues they supposedly already addressed.

That slows things down.

And it cannot continue because, as with all teams, new issues pop up every year. Next offseason the Dolphins could be looking for help at running back or tight end, and perhaps wide receive. Next year the Dolphins could be looking for more backup quarterback help. Anyone looking off into distance can see that.

The last thing the team needs is to have those concerns, while also needing to address OLB (again) or FS (again) or CB (again) or OL (again).

Therre is still a lot of building being done around the construction site that is the Dolphins roster. Here's hoping the work currently being done won't soon require that it be redone. Again.

May 10, 2010

The Cowboys draft board (the real McCoy) here

Jerry Jones whiteboard
The days and weeks leading to the NFL draft see a glut of draft boards or mock drafts from experts and non-experts alike, but we never really see an actual NFL draft board.

Until now.

The picture above is Dallas owner-president-general manager Jerry Jones standing in front of his team's draft board on Saturday, April 24 -- the third day of the draft. Many of the names on the board are clearly visible. You can click on the picture to enlarge it.

The Cowboys have confirmed this is their actual board. Apparently the team's in-house television department mistakenly put a video clip of Jones in front of the board up on the Internet somewhere. A loyal reader of mine in Iowa passed the picture along to me. I then confirmed its authenticity.

The picture speaks for itself, but in case you are having trouble deciphering all the names, the list of those that are legible are found below.

Here's how it works: The Cowboys graded the players on their board and put their names on computer readout tags. As players are drafted, the Cowboys replace the tag with the player's name, the team and spot where he was actually taken. The original Dallas order remains intact.

So Sam Bradford was the top-rated player by the Cowboys and he was selected by the Rams No. 1. In that the two teams agree.

But, for example, the Cowboys had Gerald McCoy rated ahead of Ndamakong Suh. So McCoy remains at No. 2 on their board while Suh is No. 3. The team simply removed McCoy's tag when he came off the board and added the team selecting him and the actual spot he was picked.

So why is this interesting to you?

Well, it is interesting to me the Cowboys had Dolphins first round pick Jared Odrick rated No. 15 on their board. The Dolphins got him with the No. 28 overall selection. So according to the Cowboys' grade, the Dolphins got a bargain.

Same thing with Koa Misi, who the Cowboys rated No. 35 overall, but the Dolphins got with the No. 40 overall selection.

It works the other way also, by the way. The Dolphins drafted guard John Jerry in the third round with the 73rd overall selection. The Cowboys had a fourth-round grade on Jerry -- 110th overall. So according to the Cowboys' grades, the Dolphins reached on Jerry.

The teams more or less agreed on a fifth-round grade for safety Reshad Jones.

Obviously this is all opinion. Not every team is going to agree on the grades and worth of players. One assumes the Dolphins don't believe they reached for Jerry.

Anyway, take a look at the Cowboys player rankings below. The round, overall selection and team that actually selected each player is in parenthesis. Some names were illegible. I could not find A.J. Edds and other Dolphins picks on the board. Perhaps you can. 

Round 1
1. Sam Bradford (1st round, No. 1 overall, St. Louis)
2. Gerald McCoy (1st, No. 3, Tampa Bay)
3. Ndamakong Suh (1st, No. 2, Detroit)
4. Russell Okung (1st, No. 6, Seattle)
5. Trent Williams (1st, No. 4, Wash.)
6. Eric Berry (1st, No. 5, KC)
7. Rolando McClain (1st, No. 8, Oak.)
8. Joe Haden (1st, No. 7, Cleve.)
9. CJ Spiller (1st, No. 9, Buff.)
10. Mike Iupati (1st, No. 17, S.F.)
11. Dez Bryant (1st, No. 24, Dallas)
12. Earl Thomas (1st, No. 14, Seattle)
13. Bryan Bulaga (1st, No. 23, GB)
14. Sean Lee (2nd round, No. 55, Dallas)
15. Jared Odrick (1st, No. 28, Miami)
16. Jason Pierre-Paul (1st, No. 15, NYG)
17. Derrick Morgan (1st, No. 16, Tenn.)
18. Kyle Wilson (1st, No. 29, NYJ)
19. Maurkice Pouncey (1st, No. 18, Pitt.)
20. Navorro Bowman (3rd, No. 91, S.F.)
21. Jahvid Best (1st, No. 30, Det.)
22. Tyson Alualu (1st, No. 10, Jax.)
23. Jermaine Greham (1st, No. 21, Cincy)

Round 2
1. Devin McCourty (1st, No. 27, N.E.)
2. Demaryius Thomas (1st, No. 22, Den.)
3. Koa Misi (2nd, No. 40, Miami)
4. Jerry Hughes (1st, No. 31, Indy)
5. Brandon Graham (1st, No. 13, Phila.)
6. Nate Allen (2nd, No. 37, Phila.)
7. Morgan Burnett (3rd, No. 71, G.B)
8. Taylor Mays (2nd, No. 49, S.F.)
9. (covered name)
10. Dan Williams (1st, No. 26, Ariz.)
11. Kareem Jackson (1st, No. 20, Hou.)
12. Ryan Matthews (1st, No. 12, S.D.)
13. Brian Price (2nd, No. 35, TB)
14. Rob Gronkowski (2nd, No. 42, NE)
15. Brandon Ghee (3rd, No. 96, Cincy)
16. Jimmy Clausen (2nd, No. 48, Car.)

Round 3
1. Sergio Kindle (2nd, No. 43, Balt.)
2. Anthony Davis (1st, No. 11, S.F.)
3. Corey Wooton (4th, No. 109, Chic.)
4. Patrick Robinson (1st, No. 32, N.O.)
5. Dexter McCluster (2nd, No. 36, K.C.)
6. Joe McKnight (4th, No. 112, NYJ)
7. (covered name)
8. - Chad Jones (3rd, No. 76, NYG)
9. - illegible
10. Colt McCoy (3rd, No. 85, Cleve.)
11. Taylor Price (3rd, No. 90, N.E.)
12. Lamarr Houston (2nd, No. 44, Oak.)
13. D’Anthony Smith (3rd, No. 74, Jax.)
14. Damian Williams (3rd, No. 77, Tenn.)
15. Eric Decker (3rd, No. 87, Den.)
16. Thaddeus Gibson (4th, No. 116, Pitt.)
17. Corey Peters (3rd, No. 83, Atl.)
18. Rodger Saffold (2nd, No. 33, StL.)
19. Toby Gerhardt (2nd, No. 51, Minn.)
20. Golden Tate (2nd, No. 60, Sea.)
21. Brandon LeFell (3rd, No. 78, Car.)
22. Amari Spievey (3rd, No. 66, Det.)
23. Mike Neal (2nd, No. 56, G.B.)

Round 4
1. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (4th, 126th, Dall.)
2. Javier Arenas (2nd, 50th, K.C.)
3. Vladimir Ducasse (2nd, 61, NYJ)
4. Ed Dickson (3rd, 70, Balt.)
5. Tag illegible
6. Clay Harbor (4th, 125, Phila.)
7. Perry Riley (4th, 103, Wash.)
8. (plate removed)
9. Torell Troup (2nd, 41, Buff.)
10. Carlton Mitchell (6th, 177, Cleve.)
11. Mike Johnson (3rd, 98, Atl.)
12. John Jerry (3rd, 73, Miami)
13. Linval Joseph (2nd, 46, NYG)
14. Major Wright (3rd, 75, Chic.)
15. Dominique Franks (5th, 135, Atl.)
16. Larry Asante (5th, 160, Cleve.)
17. Tony Moeaki (3rd, 93, K.C.)
18. Mitch Petrus (5th, 144th,  NYG)
19. Ben Tate (2nd, 58, Hou.)
20. Kam Chancellor (5th, 133, Sea.)
21. Andre Roberts (3rd, 88, Ariz.)
22. Myron Lewis (3rd, 67, TB)
23. Tag illegible

Round 5

1. Shawn Lauvao (3rd, 92, Cleve.)
2. Jacoby Ford (4th, 108, Oak.)
3. Danny Batten (6th, 192, Buff.)
4. Sam Young (6th, 179, Dall.)
5. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (3rd, 86, Phil.)
6. Kevin Thomas (3rd, 94, Indy)
7. Tag illegible
8. Dennis Pitta (4th, 114, Balt.)
9. Darrell Stuckey (4th, 110, San Diego)
10. Alterraun Verner (4th, 104, Tenn.)
11. Alric Arnett (undrafted)
12. Tag illegible
13. Garrett Graham (4th, 118, Hou.)
14. Reshad Jones (5th, 163, Miami)
15. Tag illegible
16. Tag illegible
17. Tag illegible
18. Tag illegible

Round 6
1. Jared Veldheer (3rd, 69th, Oak.)
2. Tag illegible
3. Tag illegible
4. Tag illegible
5. Tag illegible
6. Tag illegible
7. Tag illegible
8. Tag illegible
9. Tag illegible

Round 7
1. Walter Thurmond (4th, 111, Sea.)
2. Marcus Easley (4th, 107, Buff.)
3. Mike Kafka (4th, 122, Phila.)
4. Tag illegible
5. Tag illegible
6. Tag illegible
7. Tag illegible

May 06, 2010

Owens sets off Dolfan frenzy with tweet

At 8:36 a.m. today, Terrell Owens tweeted the following:

"Miami bound..."

And about 10 seconds later I got a bunch of twitter followers asking if this meant Owens is going to sign with the Dolphins. From what I can see, many of Owens' own followers recognized the same possibility and asked him if he's coming to sign.

Ah, the Internet.

Anyway, I cannot confirm for you the specific reason Owens is coming to Miami. He has a place here, I know that. He often trains down here.

But I can confirm for you that T.O. is not coming to join the Dolphins, according to a club source. I think the Dolphins generally like their receiver corps now that Brandon Marshall is part of the group. And I do not see them currently adding anyone who is 36 years old and will be 37 during the season, regardless of whether he has gas in the tank or not.

Simply, I think the Dolphins don't need someone to take catches away from Marshall and Owens might either do that or be unhappy that he's not seeing enough passes his way.

Having said that, I do think Owens still can be a solid contributor for some team in the right situation.

But do I think he's "miami bound," to make the Dolphins that team and that situation?


[Update: Owens was asked by one of his followers if he meant he's headed for Miami or the team and he replied, "city." So that should be that.]

May 01, 2010

The sad tale of Justin Smiley's shoulder injury

[Before I begin today I simply want to thank you, the readers, for your loyalty to this blog. April was a record-breaking month here. This blog enjoyed nearly 1.2 million page views in April. Yes, I said million. It is amazing to me that so many of you are so hungry for Dolphins information, analysis and opinion. It is humbling that you come here to satisfy that hunger. Thanks again.]

There is a good reason the Dolphins asked Justin Smiley not to show up for the offseason conditioning program when it began in late March: The team is concerned their left guard would blow out his already weakened right shoulder by merely lifting weights.

That's how bad things have gotten for the gritty, wily, tough, often injured Smiley.

The Dolphins have been trying to trade Smiley for over a month. No other NFL team has shown enough interest in Smiley to convince the Dolphins to trade their starting left guard of the last two seasons. Miami doesn't simply want to give him up for an afterthought sixth- or seventh-round pick.

But there is probably no choice. No team has offered anything higher. And I would predict no other team will offer anything higher anytime soon.

So Smiley is still on the team -- for now.

"I'm not sure where that whole thing is right now," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Friday. "And I'm not really skirting it. I really am not. At this particular time, right now, we are not sure and he is a member of my football team right now."

He may be a member of the team but that could change before the Dolphins report for the mandatory full-squad mini-camp at the end of May. By then the team hopes to have the issue resolved one way or the other.

The solutions?

It is clear the Dolphins intend to go in a direction that doesn't include Smiley. The club has told him he still might be brought back for 2010, but who is kidding whom here?

Smiley's shoulder is shot. The Dolphins know it. The San Francisco 49ers knew it when Smiley signed with Miami as an unrestricted free agent in 2008. Smiley missed the final eight games of the season with the shoulder that required surgery in 2007. He injured the shoulder again in 2009 and missed one game and was a backup in three others because of that injury.

The 2007 surgery apparently didn't go very well. Smiley, according to two sources, has lost strength in the shoulder over the past two years. He often struggles to lift his right arm over his head and has lost some of the punch and explosion generated at the shoulder.

That wouldn't be a problem for a school teacher. But Smiley makes his living as an NFL offensive linemen. He is supposed to push and punch at 300-pound defensive players and the torque for that is generated at the shoulder and elbow. For Smiley, the shoulder isn't generating the necessary torque.

The problem for Smiley is also that lifting weights to strengthen the shoulder isn't really the solution. Lifting extremely heavy weights, you see, could cause another injury to the shoulder.

So while he could come back and probably play and contribute at his current weakended condition, the Dolphins and probably even Smiley recognize he is on borrowed time. More games or more strenuous weight lifting would probably land Smiley on another injured list.

That is the reason he is on the trade block. That is the reason no one has jumped at the opportunity to trade for him.

Simply, for the Dolphins, the future at left guard once belonged to Justin Smiley. Now it belongs to rookie John Jerry. And Smiley?

He may have played his final game for the Dolphins.

April 30, 2010

Football returns to the front burner today

At approximately 2:45 p.m. on Friday the Dolphins can get back to thinking about football. Thank you, Jesus!

After a couple of weeks that weren't necessarily all about football, but rather raised issues about sensitivity and arrogance and vision, we get back discussing football today. Dolphins coaches this afternoon will take eight draft picks, maybe eight or nine undrafted free agents, maybe a dozen tryout players, and some others onto the field for an afternoon practice.

So let's discuss football, shall we?

First thing to look for today? Mike Nolan, the Dolphins new defensive coordinator.

I'll be interested to hear about his style on the field ... Is he a yeller or a mild-mannered teacher? I'll be eager to hear what position he pays closest attention to on defense. Remember Nick Saban used to concentrate almost exclusively on the defensive backs?

I'll be interested to hear how exactly the Dolphins line up on defense. Yes, I know it's just a rookie camp but the alignments should be the same as the ones Nolan will or has already installed for the veterans.

As so many of Miami's draft picks were defensive players, the focus is going to have to be on defense.

Can Koa Misi cover? After playing mostly defensive end in college, is he really a fine OLB candidate like the Dolphins believe he is? (Let's hope!)

Is Reshad Jones instinctive enough, smart enough, agile enough, fast enough to play free safety? Or is he more of a strong safety?

Is A.J. Edds really as good in coverage as everyone says. Remember he had like 78 interceptions in college (actually 7) so this is supposed to be his ticket to plays in the nickel package.

Does weakside linebacker Chris McCoy have the explosive ability to pass-rush that the Dolphins say he does? Where does he get it from? Is it strength, an amazing first step, great technique, what?

Can Nolan Carroll stay healthy? And is he a viable candidate to compete for spot on the roster as a fourth cornerback or perhaps a special teams contributor? Can he catch punts and kickoffs well enough that he might become a return option?

Finally, Jared Odrick will be on display. It's hard to judge what a lineman can do in a minicamp setting. I'm not that sophisticated. Tony Sparano is that sophisticated. He'll find something interesting about Odrick, learn something, tweak something.

How about that? Football. 

April 29, 2010

Another PR black eye on the horizon? Maybe

It's been a long offseason for the Dolphins, one filled with more perceived flubs and miscues than last year's four-turnover afternoon at Buffalo.

Trying to be a postive, glass-half-full person, I guess I can look past the fumbled termination of Joey Porter's contract, which had other teams and agents snickering because it was proof someone on the Dolphins simply cannot do math.

Then there was the poorly strategized manner in which the Jason Taylor situation was handled and the failure to celebrate a free agency victory by holding a press conference when a player of Karlos Dansby's stature was signed.

I can even -- eventually -- move past the Dez Bryant "is your mother a prostitute" fiasco because folks have apologized, other folks have accepted the apology, and an internal investigation into the matter is underway.

We can get past all those errors -- assuming more errors aren't on the horizon.

But at least one more possible error in judgment will be unveiled as early as Friday.

On Friday the Dolphins will conduct a three-day rookie minicamp and right there, among the rookie linebackers, A.J. Edds will be on the field wearing No. 54 -- the number worn from 1996-2007 by Zach Thomas.

It must be noted that on its face this isn't a bad thing. The Dolphins have many linebackers on the roster and every number in the 50s including 54 has been assigned. The Dolphins have also held back No. 54 for two years until now. The number is not retired.

I also recall the Dolphins in the past gave away Mark Clayton's number the year after he left via free agency. Clayton was a great player like Thomas, although not as beloved by fans.

But none of that changes the fact that the timing of this is terrible. The context of giving out that number now is bad.

You see, Zach Thomas is one of the most beloved players ever to play for the Dolphins. He lived right, played hard, and gave the Dolphins everything he had (including some brain cells following a handful of concussions).

The guy is an all-timer down here.

But only a couple of weeks ago, Thomas took the Dolphins to task for their treatment of brother-in-law Jason Taylor. He did it publicly on the radio and in print interviews and it made people notice. When you've torqued off Zach Thomas, you've probably made a mistake.

Thomas also rolled back the curtain on his feelings regarding his own dismissal from the Dolphins years ago.

He talked about how all he wanted to do the day he got waived in 2008 was say good-bye to his fans by talking to the media at the team training facility in a press conference. The Dolphins did allow Thomas to make phone calls to various media from the facility but told him if he wanted to do a press conference, he'd have to do it elsewhere. Thomas obviously feels hurt by that to this day.

And he said as much in recent weeks.

Well, the awarding of No. 54 on the heels of the former player's comments looks bad. I'm sure it is pure coincidence. I know there were several internal conversations about this very subject in recent days going all the way up the ladder to include coach Tony Sparano.

But that doesn't change the fact that it looks bad.

The timing of this makes it look like retribution.

It looks like: You criticize us, we give away your number.

Edds wore No. 49 at Iowa. The Dolphins should have given him that number for this coming rookie mini-camp. They should have let him wear it through training camp. And if, if, Edds earned a spot on the roster after training camp, they could have changed his number into the 50s. After all, a couple of the numbers currently taken such as No. 59 (J.D. Folsom) and No. 57 (Brian Johnson) might or might not be around for the start of the regular-season anyway.

Edds Moreover, if the Dolphins absolutely needed to give Edds No. 54, they could have turned a potential flub into a touchdown if they wanted. They could have called Thomas in, let him sign a contract for a day, and promptly allowed him to retire a Dolphin. He could have then handed that No. 54 jersey to Edds, and gotten his farewell press conference in one fell swoop.

Is there anyone who thinks that would not have been a feel-good moment?

It would have sown seeds of good will. It would have diffused an issue that might leave a bad taste in the mouth of some fans during a time they're deciding whether or not to buy tickets for 2010. (It also would have saved me from having to write this post.)

The point is the Dolphins are lately showing they do not have clear vision about what some fans, the rest of the NFL, the NFLPA, the media, or their alumni are thinking. They seem to be somewhat out of touch in that regard.

Thankfully, none of this has to do with actual football. From a football standpoint these guys are nails. They got it right from A to Z.

But when you blow stuff like the JT saga, or this little No. 54 issue, or prostitutegate, it affects the way the football team is viewed and respected. And the respect and good name of the Miami Dolphins is very, very, very, very important.

It is sad that tomorrow when the rookie camp opens, some focus that should be on how great this draft class might be will veer toward why A.J. Edds is wearing Zach Thomas's jersey. That alone shows you it's a mistake.

None of this is rocket science. But how many perceived black eyes can folks take in one offseason?

[Evening update: The link to the roster on the Dolphins website above has been altered by the team. It orginally showed Edds having been awarded No. 54, Koa Misi wearing No. 55, and John Jerry wearing No. 74. But that roster has been changed out. The Dolphins took down the roster they had on their website that showed the numbers for Edds and all the other rookies and substituted this roster instead. I would say the team felt some pressure from folks seeing Edds wearing No. 54 before it was ready to announce the move. It is also possible the team, after consideration or reading this blog, might have changed its mind and not give Edds No. 54 tomorrow after all. Maybe the Dolphins don't have a desire to create more PR problems. We'll see tomorrow when the rookie minicamp kicks off.] 

April 28, 2010

Former RB Rob Konrad defends Jeff Ireland

The following is an e-mail former Dolphins running back Rob Konrad sent The Miami Herald and other media outlets concerning Jeff Ireland following the incident in which the general manager admittedly asked Dez Bryant whether his mother is a prostitute and then apologized publicly to Bryant for the question:

"Use any adjective you’d like to describe Jeff Ireland, but those in the media claiming he’s “without class” are simply misinformed. Jeff’s a regular guy, whose attention to detail and no-nonsense approach has defined his success in the industry. More than any member of the Dolphins front office in recent history, Jeff and his family have been regularly engaged with the Miami Dolphins Foundation and community outreach programs.

"Jeff is one of the true good guys in the industry. To see his name being tarnished in the media as the result of (a) single question during a team interview seems to me entirely unjust. It’s important to keep in mind the context of these interviews -- the prospect of guaranteeing a 22-year-old stranger millions of dollars to enter one of the most competitive, intolerant and insensitive professional work environments around.

"I’m not attempting to defend the question asked, but rather the person and the process. Having been through those interviews, in the locker room, and on the field, I can tell you that the work environment in the NFL is unique, one that would be unacceptable in virtually any other industry. The questions asked by teams in pre-draft interviews usually have the dual purpose of getting to know the player and testing their mindset.

"By way of example, one of the common questions asked by teams is as follows: "If you had the choice of being reborn as a cat or a dog, which would you choose and why?" There is no correct answer, there may be preferable responses depending on your position, but the question is meant to generate a response from the player which can be analyzed in any number of ways.

"When I was coming out of Syracuse University, I remember being asked 'if I thought I could succeed as a white running back in the NFL?' and 'why I thought a kid who attended a suburban Massachusetts private high school was tough enough to play in the NFL?'  If one (sic) we’re interviewing a prospective executive for private industry, this line of questioning likely wouldn’t be acceptable.

"The 'all-ball' and 'no-nonsense' approach incorporated by the current regime at the Dolphins has been consistent since they arrived. I believe this philosophy has resonated throughout the organization and is one of the main factors for the team's return to playing winning fundamental football. Jeff may be demanding and thorough, and maybe a question was asked in poor judgment, but he’s one of the good guys in the NFL, he’s been a great asset to the Dolphins and a good friend to South Florida."

--Robert Konrad 


Adalius Thomas a possibility Dolphins will consider

Adalius Thomas is on the free agent market and the talk league-wide now is that he wants to get paid.

If that is true, scratch the Dolphins from the list of teams that might be interested in him.

But if Thomas indeed wants to play the New England Patriots twice this season as is rumored, and if he is willing to play for a reasonable salary, he might make sense for the Dolphins.

I'm not saying the Dolphins must absolutely chase Thomas. But will they investigate the possibility? Will they make calls on him? Study his tape? Discuss the idea?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Thomas could be an "acorn" the Dolphins often discuss. The discussion would include the question whether he would be a "progress-stopper."

Simply, Thomas could be an insurance policy at strong side outside linebacker in case second-round pick Koa Misi isn't ready to start right away. But what if Misi is solid enough, as hoped, to play right away? Would Thomas become a problem?

Obviously the Dolphins have to weigh what Thomas might do in the locker room. He made no bones about complaining and showing his displeasure last season when Bill Belichick benched him. I'm certain he would not be happy coming to the Dolphins and then finding himself on the bench again.

But he can still be productive. At 32 years old he is not beyond an age the would cause the Dolphins to dismiss the possibility out of hand.

In fact, nothing about Thomas would cause the Dolphins to dismiss the idea out of hand. So stay tuned.

April 27, 2010

Jeff Ireland apologizes to Dez Bryant

Yes, Jeff Ireland asked the question. And he is sorry he did.

The Dolphins general manager has called receiver Dez Bryant in the last hour and apologized for asking the player if his mother was ever a prostitute. The question came during a pre-draft interview at the Dolphins training facility earlier this month.

Bryant has apparently accepted the apology.

"My job is to find out as much information as possible about a player that I'm considering drafting," Ireland said in a statement. "Sometimes that leads to asking in-depth questions.

"Having said that, I talked to Dez Bryant and told him I used poor judgment in one of the questions I asked him. I certainly meant no disrespect and apologized to him.

"I appreciate his acceptance of that apology and I told him I wished him well as he embarks on his NFL career."

This apology follows two reports by Yahoo!Sports' Mike Silver in which Bryant claimed he was asked by an unnamed team if his mom was a prostitue. Silver followed with an ensuing report claiming the Dolphins were the unnamed team and that Ireland was the person asking the question, according to a source.

Both reports were correct. And Ireland is hoping to put the issue to bed by issuing this apology. 

Brown, Williams in final Miami year together?

Since the topic of Dolphins running backs has been all the rage of late -- with one being constantly whispered about as trade bait and the other as a documentary star and possible retiree after 2010 -- I wanted to appraoch the topic from a different direction today.

From the team's perspective.

You see, seemingly lost in all the draft coverage over the weekend, Jeff Ireland's words while addressing the running back situation seem to have gotten short shrift. And they beg more attention.

Ireland was asked Saturday evening if he might have liked to add a running back in the draft and he said that 2010 is the last year for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.

"Again, when you put a board together, sometimes the chips fall differently in certain drafts," Ireland said. "Obviously we’re aware of the situation on our team. You have Ricky [Williams] and Ronnie [Brown] kind of in their last year. We’re aware of all those things. We have them for another year, so anything can happen that way. The draft falls certain ways and you can’t help the way it falls. We’re not ignoring those positions by any means, but I felt like we stuck to our board pretty good and stayed the course."

I'm not going to leap to the assumption that Brown and Williams are indeed done with the Dolphins after 2010. The truth is no one knows what will happen after 2010. The NFL may not even play in 2011 for all we know.

But weighing Ireland's words with the facts currently before us, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Miami will be searching for running backs after this year because one or both of its top backs will be gone.

As far as Brown is concerned, he has yet to sign his restricted free agent tender. He would like a long-term deal but that doesn't seem imminent because, well, the Dolphins don't really have to offer one right now.

Brown, 28, has yet to prove he's 100 percent back from last year's fractured foot and has never proven that he is exceedingly durable. The Dolphins own his rights this year via the restricted tender they placed on him and can extend after June 1st if Brown doesn't sign by then. Trust me, Brown is not going to sit out this year if he doesn't get a new contract so he will eventually sign that tender if the Dolphins don't give him a new deal -- and as we just discussed their motivation for doing so is not high.

Bottom line is the Dolphins can keep Brown this year and decide to replace him with younger legs in 2011, if they wish. Bottom line is they have been willing to let him go at different intervals since 2008. Bottom line is his long-term future in Miami is by no means certain.

Williams is another matter, but one no less fraught with uncertainty. The Dolphins have shown a past desire to pass him Post-it note contract extensions, which is the reason he's signed through 2010. He has said in the past that he would retire following the 2010 season.

He said Monday he is "not sure" if he will retire in 2010 and that the hiring agent Drew Rosenhaus should not be interpreted as an intention to play into 2011. Whatever, the point is neither Williams nor the Dolphins know without doubt what is going to happen.

But we do know this: Williams will be 33 next month and so whether he's able to stretch his career beyond 2010 is not a certainty by any means.

So the Dolphins might be wise to take the approach that this could be the final year for both Brown and Williams. And if it doesn't work out that way, well, then something good happened that stretched the Miami career for one or both of the running backs.

Still, better to make the error on the side of caution.

April 26, 2010

Jeff Ireland: The interview, the Wilson flap

I got the opportunity to speak with Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland one-on-one Saturday night after his work was mostly done with the draft and the adding of priority free agents.

That conversation gave me a better understanding of exactly how it is the Dolphins attack the draft when Ireland and Bill Parcells are sitting in the war room together. I wrote about that as part of my column that appears in Monday's Miami Herald.

Another part of the column, by the way, tells you how Ireland seemed to be getting more comfortable even as this draft was proceeding. He actually made jokes when he was in front of the media. The guy was cool.

But we're not 100 percent there yet.

This interview gave me the opportunity to ask about a topic that's been bothering me for a while now:

I wanted to know why it was Ireland seemingly misled at the Indianapolis Combine on the subject of Gibril Wilson. As you know, everyone assumed Wilson was a goner after a season in which he played poorly and cost Miami chances to win at least two games -- Indianapolis and New Orleans.

But Ireland went to the Combine and in speaking with the media -- to his credit, against the wishes of Parcells -- defended Wilson so vehemently that it seemed like Wilson was coming back.

"We have our evaluation of Gibril Wilson," Ireland said at the time. "We know what kind of player he's capable of being. I think he's going to be a very good player for the future. He was disappointed in his play last year. He will tell you that. I think he can play better. We'll just have to see. I think he will."

Of course, everyone assumed Ireland meant Wilson would play better for the Dolphins. Bad assumption. The Dolphins cut Wilson when the new league year opened in March.

"I didn't say anything that was wrong," Ireland told me during our interview. "I didn't say anything that was false. If you read the transcript, I said he's going to be a good player in the future. I knew what I was saying. You know, he's a player on my team. And I'm going to defend a player on my team. I'm not going to say anything else bad out there. I do believe he's going to be a good player in the future. I like the kid. It was probably not the right position for him. That's obvious now. But I did believe what I was telling you. I was telling the truth.

"I just wasn't giving you every thought in my head."

Fair enough. It wasn't Ireland's fault that folks like me made an assumption. As Ireland told me in another part of the interview, every draft mistake his makes is a lesson he learns.

Count this a lesson learned for yours truly.

April 25, 2010

Undrafted free agents plus draft breakdown

The news first: I have six eight undrafted free agent names that sources say have agreed to join the Dolphins.

The players are:

Nevada DB Jonathon Amaya: 6-0, 203 pounds. Ran a 4.51 at the Combine. Benched 225 pounds only eight times.

Maryland DT Travis Ivey: 6-4, 325 pounds. No Combine results. Had 25 tackles including one sack in 2009.

Duke DL Vince Oghobaase: 6-5, 303 pounds. Ran a 5.48 at the Combine. Benched 225 pounds 27 times.

Penn State CB A.J. Wallace: 6-1, 201 pounds. No Combine results. Four career interceptions, three of those his senior year in 2009.

San Diego State WR Roberto Wallace: 6-4, 225 pounds. No Combine results. Caught 36 passes for 463 yards and three TDs in 2009 and that was his best of three seasons.

Michigan State DB Ross Weaver: 6-1, 203 pounds. No Combine results. Missed all of 2006 season. One career interception.

[Update: Florida International offensive lineman Andy Leavine has been signed as an undrafted free agent, according to my friends at Leavine is listed at 6-5 and 292 pounds. He benched 225 pounds 31 times at his Pro Day.

Also, this morning I've learned Fresno State WR Marlon Moore is on Miami's undrafted FA list. Moore is 6-foot and 190 pounds. He had 15 catches for 317 yards and three TDs for the Bulldogs in 2009.]

Secondly, let me tell you what I thought of the Dolphins draft. Actually, it's late, I've slept five hours in two days and the wife is waiting for me so if you really want to know what I think click here.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone! 

April 21, 2010

Thomas: Dolphins have to show respect

If a Mount Rushmore of Dolphins players existed, Zach Thomas would be up there with Dan Marino and Larry Csonka and a couple of others. He was a Dolfans' favorite player from the second in 1996 he stepped on the field as a short, no-neck-having, self-deprecating rookie to the day in 2008 he packed his belongings and left.

And to this day Zach Thomas remains a South Florida resident, a fan of the Dolphins, and someone the organization admires enough that it considered him to join the new radio team being assembled to work on a new flagship station -- the team by the way, would not consider me as a commentator because I'm not enough of a homer.

Anyway, the point is when Zach Thomas is peeved with the organization, well then, something is wrong -- not with Zach, but with the organization.

And Zach Thomas is steaming about how the Dolphins have treated his brother-in-law Jason Taylor (married to Zach's sister Katina). He's upset about the handling of the latest Taylor saga in particular and and about the way the Dolphins handle inconic players in general.

Yesterday on the Sid Rosenberg show on 560-AM here in South Florida, Thomas pulled back the curtain on how Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells handled his departure when he was waived by the Dolphins.

"The only thing that was like a punch in the gut to me was the day I was cleaning out my locker, the day they cut me, [agent] Drew [Rosenhaus] asked them if I could just say thanks to the fans through the media at the Dolphins facility and their answer was, 'No, he's not a Dolphins player anymore, he's got to do it off premises.'" Thomas said. "That's when you know, like, 'Wow,' the whole loyalty and everything they preach with team and things like that goes out the window."

None of this is commentary on how the Dolphins make football decisions. There is no arguing it was time for Zach to go. He didn't fit the Dolphins scheme. He was getting up there in years. He was coming off a year in which he had concussion issues.

But this is commentary on what happens after the football decisions are made. A player like Zach Thomas basically gets kicked to the curb in much the same manner as Abraham Wright would.

After he was waived, Thomas had to find a way to say good-bye to Dolphins fans. He had to call media members one by one, me and many others included, to say his farewell to ... you.

That is wrong.

This regime doesn't like making exceptions. They like to treat all the players the same. The Dolphins, for example, are one of the few NFL teams that do not welcome new free agents with press conferences because the team doesn't want to make it seem like the new players are more important than the ones already on the roster. The Dolphins also don't get mushy when former greats such as Thomas or, yes, Jason Taylor leave are or forced to leave.

And that is fine if you're talking about Shawn Murphy being traded. But if Jason Taylor is being traded, that needs to be handled differently.

The strange thing here is that general manager Jeff Ireland is aware of how great players should be treated. He sometimes talks about how he doesn't want to do anything that would sully the organization's great name or history.

Ireland's stepfather was a Hall of Famer E.J. Holub. His grandfather Jim Parmer was a former Philadelphia player and Bears executive. Those men knew the importance of legacy and standing. Those guys respected those ideals.

But Ireland, under Bill Parcells, isn't really holding up his end very well in that department. The Dolphins fumbled on the Zach Thomas dismissal two years ago. They dropped the ball again in the manner they treated Jason Taylor this offseason.

Their football decisions were probably correct in both instances. Their people skills were lacking both times.

"You've got to know to respect great players," Thomas said. "You've got to know that. Jason is going to be a Hall of Famer. He's going to be in the [Dolphins Ring] of Honor. His name is always going to be in Dolphin Stadium, and that's big. And you know what, you can do it in a different approach. It might not be their approach. But I get disappointed when I see guys that have put everything on the line for the Dolphins organization and have a Hall-of-Fame career like Jason Taylor and it goes down like it has the last couple weeks...

"I'm not trying to be hard on Jeff Ireland. But he's saying it wrong, especially for a guy who has so much history with the Miami Dolphins. He's the all-time sacks leader among active players, and you're going to talk about him like he's a first- or second-year player. He should know how to respect guys that have been great to the game. ... It's fine if you don't have a need for him. But you tell him up front. And you don't go through the media and act like you're shocked that it's being brought up. I don't like the organization to look bad that way."

Here is a quick suggestion to the Miami Dolphins, an organization that thinks it knows it all: Sign Zach Thomas for a day. Hold the press conference now that you refused to grant him in 2008. Allow Zach to say good-bye the right way.

You can't do anything about how you handled Jason Taylor's departure. Right the wrong you did with the Zach Thomas departure. And do it soon.

Where JT, Dolphins agree and disagree

From 7 p.m. until approximately 10 p.m. Tuesday night, I spent time on the phone and in person listening to Jason Taylor, or people close to Jason Taylor, or family members of Jason Taylor, or associates of Jason Taylor. (I admittedly did not communicate Dr. Doolite-style with Jason Taylor's dog.)

When I arrived home I got a call from the Miami Dolphins and spent 45 minutes on the line listening to what they have to say about, you guessed it, Jason Taylor. By the way, 45 minutes on the line with folks representing an NFL team is an aging experience.

Following that I will now share with you what I know and what is curiously not settled as this chapter of Taylor's Dolphins career comes to a close.

What I know:

1. Taylor on Tuesday morning accepted from the New York Jets the only contract offer he had on the table to him. Period. There was a report on the Dan LeBatard radio show here in South Florida that quoted a source saying the Dolphins had an offer on the table for Taylor and he decided to take the Jets offer anyway.


"It was take this or go on a nationwide (Dancing with the Stars) tour with Jerry Rice," said Taylor, who also called LeBatard's source "a liar."

The Dolphins are in agreement with Taylor on this issue. They confirm they did not currently have a contract offer on the table to Jason Taylor.

We're off to a good start.

2. The Dolphins offered Taylor a contract extension in early November of 2009. That was reported here yesterday, Taylor said it in his press conference, and the Dolphins confirm this is true.

And the manner in which the offer came is also not up for debate. It came in a private meeting between Taylor and Bill Parcells himself.

And the offer came in the form of a Post-it note.

Parcells wanted to deal with Taylor directly. No agent was supposed to be involved. That seems to be increasingly the way the Dolphins operate with their veterans. Remember that last year Parcells approached Ricky Williams to discuss his contract?

Williams thought the team wanted to cut his salary. Instead, Parcells handed Williams a note with the figures for a contract extension. The caveat to the note was that Parcells didn't want to go through Williams' agent. And so Williams, needing money, happily left agent Leigh Steinberg out of the loop and accepted the Parcells contract extension on a Post-it note.

Well, the Dolphins tried the same thing with Taylor.

He declined the offer and instead referred the Dolphins to his agent Gary Wichard.

"It wasn't the right time," Taylor said. "I wasn't comfortable with the contract situation coming up then. Maybe I grew up old school, back in the days of Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt and Rick Spielman. We didn't talk contract once the season started. My focus was on trying to get to the playoffs, not on talking money. And why would I do a deal without my agent? Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland have an agent."

3. The Taylor camp believes that once the player declined the Big Tuna's personal offer, that triggered something that doesn't resemble love. The Dolphins do not argue the point that perhaps -- perhaps -- Parcells was not thrilled Taylor rejected his personal overture.

4. The Taylor camp to this minute does not know if the Dolphins would or would not have offered them a contract after the draft. And the Dolphins don't know 100 percent, either. That decision, they say, was going to be made after the draft. And they admit they might have decided not to offer Taylor a contract.

5. The idea about after the draft is troubling but moreso in that there is agreement on it than not. The Dolphins say that after Taylor received an initial offer from the Jets, they were told of the offer from the Taylor camp. No disagreement there. And the Dolphins say their response to finding out those numbers was to inform Taylor and his agent they wished to make their decision on Taylor "after the draft."

And, they say, that as late as Monday, the Taylor camp was "fine" with waiting until after the draft.

The Taylor camp agrees that they were initially "fine" with the idea of waiting until after the draft. No disagreement there, either.

Now here is where we get into disagreements:

1. The Dolphins, far as they know, still believe the Taylor camp was "fine" with waiting for Miami's decision after the draft. The Taylor camp obviously felt that a decision needed to be moved up because the one offer they held -- that of the Jets -- could easily disappear after the draft.

The Taylor camp says it reached out to the Dolphins when it became clear the Jets could pull their offer. The Taylor camp says it requested a decision one way or the other but got no response.

Why there wasn't one last-minute, last-gasp attempt to keep Jason Taylor in a Dolphins uniform, is unclear to Taylor. In fact, to this day Taylor doesn't know why he didn't get any Miami offer. "If I was told why, I could express it to you," he said. "But I wasn't told."

The Dolphins say there was nothing to express. They were waiting until after the draft.

2. About that November contract extension:

The Taylor side feels Parcells took Taylor declining to deal without an agent personally. The Dolphins side doesn't necessarily refute this as stated above. But ...

Parcells would not allow personal feelings to get in the way of completing imperative football business even if his feelings have a little boo-boo. (Salguero personal opinion: Taylor simply wasn't imperative to the Dolphins. If he was 25 instead of 35, he would have become imperative. But he isn't.)

3. Taylor said that once he turned the situation over to his agent he expected the negotiation to continue but that eventually the offer was pulled. The Dolphins say that once Taylor declined Parcells' offer, it was turned over to Jeff Ireland to handle and that negotiations indeed continued for some time between Ireland and Wichard.

(I'm getting a headache, aren't you?)

4. The Taylor camp is not really going here, but I am: They believe they were disrespected. Taylor, they say, is an all-timer with the Dolphins that, no matter what your football evaluation is, should be respected and treated well based on what he's meant to the franchise for 13 years.

They don't believe either Parcells or Ireland recognized the player's place in team lore and dealt with him poorly by playing the "after the draft" game. Taylor just wanted to know outright if the Dolphins wanted him or not. Black or white. The Dolphins told him to wait until after the draft in 2009, but they also told him they wanted him. They told him to wait until after the draft in 2010, but didn't hint as to whether he was in their plans or not.

Taylor was ultimately frustrated by the gray of "after the draft."

You saw part of that peek through when Taylor said, "I'm happy somebody wants me to play for them. The Jets have given me an opportunity to play and not just an opportunity but they showed me they wanted me up there ... They made it clear what they wanted to do."

The Dolphins? They insist they respected Taylor's historical standing.

But, they add, at the end of the day, they simply made a football decision.

[BLOG NOTE: I know there were issues with all of you being able to post comments on Tuesday. I was flooded with e-mail complaints that the blog was broken. I'm told the issue is being resolved. Personally, I blame it all on the New York Jets.]

April 20, 2010

Jason Taylor to play for the New York Jets

Jason Taylor has decided to join the New York Jets, according to his agent Gary Wichard. The NFL's active sack leader and the player with more sacks than anyone since 2000, will sign a contract with New York as early as Wednesday.

Taylor is tentatively scheduled to fly to New York to meet with Jets management Wednesday morning.

Taylor, who wanted to return to the Dolphins in 2010, decided to accept New York's offer after realizing there was no opportunity for him to play for the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins have refused to offer Taylor a contract since the end of the 2009 season, saying they would make a decision on that after the draft.

Taylor's decision, looming for days, was finalized late Tuesday morning as the NFL draft threatened his only opportunity for a contract at this time. While the Dolphins were holding Taylor off until after the draft, the Jets offered Taylor a chance to join the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense in 2009.

Taylor recognized his opportunity in New York could disappear if the Jets draft someone that plays the same position. That would leave Taylor, 35, with no contract offer from any team and no assurances from Miami.

Wichard called the Jets to commit Taylor to them on Tuesday morning. The contract is a two-year deal for $13 million but that is not a true number because it includes a large roster bonus in 2011 the Jets aren't likely to pay. The real deal is essentially a one-year deal that could be worth up to $4 million with numerous incentives.

Taylor's decision was sealed this week upon his return from a mini-vacation in Costa Rica. He'd hoped he would return to South Florida and meet with Coach Tony Sparano -- a meeting Sparano requested and then postponed last week. But that meeting was never rescheduled, another hint to Taylor the Dolphins didn't want him back.

Clues that the Dolphins are moving in a different direction away from Taylor were everywhere. The team scheduled a workout for free agent OLB Travis LaBoy late last week. The club also seems ready to draft an OLB in this draft, with that pick coming as early as Miami's No. 12 pick in the first round.

And even as they were searching for pass-rushers -- a position of need -- the Dolphins did not offer Taylor a contract and did not provide either private or public hints there would even be a contract opportunity after the draft. At times during the last two months, the Dolphins have not returned calls to the Taylor camp.

The Dolphins have refused to explain why they are taking this approach with a player who has deeper roots in South Florida than Bill Parcells or Jeff Ireland or Tony Sparano combined. Ireland's stance on the matter recently was, "I'm not going to air our business to the media."

But the fact is this isn't typical of the way the Dolphins have done business this offseason. The club eagerly signed Jason Ferguson and Chad Pennington this offseason. Those moves were made despite the fact Ferguson, 35, must serve an eight-game suspension to start the 2010 season and Pennington, like Taylor, is recovering from shoulder surgery.

Clearly, the Dolphins didn't need to wait until after the draft to retain Ferguson and Pennington. 

Taylor is "disappointed and even hurt" the Dolphins didn't ask him to return for 2010, according to a family friend who asked not to be identified. Clearly, returning to play in front of Dolphins fans was his priority. Taylor wanted to finish his career in Miami because he has ties in the community, wants to retire to South Florida when his career is over, and wants his charitable foundation to continue doing work locally.

Basically, Taylor didn't want to do anything that would be misinterpreted as him leaving the Dolphins for a rival. "He's leaving the Dolphins because they've given him no choice," the family source said.

To that end, Taylor is expected to be introduced at a press conference by the Jets Wednesday. But after working out with his new teammates into the weekend, Taylor also expects to have a press conference in South Florida to address with the local media about his feelings on this move.

Taylor, the source said, sees this move as a separation but not a divorce from South Florida and Miami fans. "Logically, he had to go to Jets," the source said. "But emotionally, his heart is with Dolphins fans."

Taylor also views joining the Jets as an opportunity to reach the NFL playoffs. The Jets reached the AFC championship game in 2009 and have added several big-name players this offseason, including running back LaDainian Tomlinson, cornerback Antonio Cromartie and wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

Tomlinson was part of the full-court recruitment of Taylor by the Jets, as the running back called Taylor to convince him to join the team. That recruitment began in earnest when Jets coach Rex Ryan called agent Wichard three weeks ago to ask if Taylor would be interested in the idea of playing for Miami's division rival.

Wichard, holding no offer from the Dolphins, convinced Taylor to visit with the Jets on April 8-9.

Last week, the Jets called Wichard again. But this time it was owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and Ryan on the line all at the same time.

"It was not to pressure Jason," Wichard said last week. "It was a respectful call. They wanted to share how much they thought of Jason. It wasn't like they were blitzing me. No pressure. We talked about how much Commissioner Roger Goodell likes Jason.

"The Jets have been great throughout this process."

The Jets and Dolphins could not be more dissimilar.

While the Dolphins last year referred to Taylor as an "acorn," a player plucked off the market at the last minute and unexpectedly, the Jets have treated Taylor like an icon -- taking him on helicopter rides to their new stadium, putting him up in a five-star hotel in midtown Manhattan during his recruiting visit.

Weighing the treatment of acorn and icon, Taylor obviously picked the latter.

This will mark the second time Taylor leaves the Dolphins.

Taylor played for the Dolphins from 1997-2007 then was traded to the Washington Redskins in 2008 for a second-round pick. He returned in 2009 and collected seven sacks and 42 tackles. Taylor started all 16 games in 2009 and was a team captain. Taylor turned down $8 million guaranteed from the Redskins to return to Miami for a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

It was such a successful reunion, the Dolphins offered Taylor a contract extension early last November, according to a club source.

The Dolphins have done this before with others players -- Parick Cobbs, Lousaka Polite, Greg Camarillo and Ricky Williams -- performing at a high level.

The difference for Taylor was that the contract offer was basically for the same money he played for last season. There was modest base salary increase offered from $1.1 to $1.5 million and there was one interesting stipulation: The Dolphins wanted to deal directly with Taylor and not let him include Wichard in any talks.

Taylor wanted to include his agent and that concluded the talks.

Interestingly, soon after Taylor rejected the curious extension offer, his playing time changed. Taylor still started. But the guy who led the team with 5 1/2 sacks with most of November and December still to play, suddenly wasn't part of Miami's pass-rush package all the time.

Taylor, playing with an injured shoulder on run downs but less so on passing downs, collected only 1 1/2 sacks the season's final two months. Meanwhile, Joey Porter, who had struggled early in the season, was allowed to stay on the field on pass downs and sometimes even waved off substitutions from the sideline on those downs.

With the Jets, Taylor is expected to play only on passing downs. Ryan has promised to be innovative and let Taylor attack the pass-pocket from every angle and side. That isn't exactly a new approach. In 2006, Nick Saban used Taylor in that fashion. Sometimes Taylor would rush from the right side, sometimes the left side, sometimes up the middle, sometimes Taylor would drop in coverage.

Taylor won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award that year.

When the Dolphins signed Taylor in 2009, their plan was to use him only on a limited basis -- again, mostly as a pass-rusher. But starter Matt Roth failed his training camp conditioning test and so Miami pressed Taylor into a starting job.

Taylor was happy to take the job and didn't give it back. Roth was eventually waived.

Now the Dolphins don't have either Roth or Taylor.

Now the Dolphins will face Jason Taylor twice in 2010.

Follow Armando Salguero on twitter.

April 17, 2010

No rest when Dolphins are planning, working

I'm trying to take a day off but my phone was buzzing with a handful of texts on the Dolphins possibly making some moves in the coming hours or days. The name most prominently mentioned in the "rumors" is Ronnie Brown.

Not a surprise. But I assure you, nothing is happening right now.

Funny how the Justin Smiley trade talk has died down.

That doesn't mean something won't happen. As I wrote in my column for The Miami Herald print edition, the coming week will be a busy one indeed for the Dolphins. Come to think of it, it might be the most busy week of roster activity in team history.

Check out the reasons I say that.

Last week was also quite a blast as the Dolphins added wide receiver Brandon Marshall. It's a good thing when the Dolphins make a move that have ripple effects throughout the league.

Adding Marshall resonated throughout the AFC East, including in New York where Darrelle Revis plays. Revis is the best cornerback in the NFL right now, just slightly better than Nmandi Asomugha. If you read this blog or follow me on twitter you know that Marshall reacted to playing Revis twice a year, asking "Where is Revis Island?"

Well, Revis also has thoughts on Marshall.

"It really doesn’t matter to me," Revis said when asked his reaction of Marshall coming to the AFC East. "You see it, people text you, people tweet you, so it’s well-known what’s out there. It’s just another thing where a big-time receiver is in the AFC East. It’s good for [the Dolphins]. They needed a big-time receiver and I get to play against him twice.

So does Revis relish playing Marshall twice a year?

"I love competition," he said. "That’s what I do, I compete no matter who steps up and no matter who comes into this division.’’

April 16, 2010

Ginn: 'Still have hopes of being an elite receiver'

Ted Ginn may not have been a great receiver for the Dolphins. But he was a great person.

The kid was classy in victory and defeat, in good times and bad. And that continues. He just spoke on a conference call and rather than taking any shots at the Dolphins or the fans that gave him a tough time, he stayed classy.

"I wouldn't say it's a sense of relief but it's always good to have a new start," Ginn said of his departure from Miami. "Going out to the 49'ers is going to give me a brand new start. Leaving Miami, you know, I hold no grudges. I don't have no bad feelings about them or anything. It's just my time was up there and now it was time to move on."

Ginn goes to San Francisco for a fifth round pick -- No. 145 in the coming draft. He goes to San Francisco ostensibly to resolve the 49'ers return problems on special teams. But Ginn is not selling himself short.

"I still have hopes of being an elite receiver," he said. "I don't think that I sell off at all. I just believe that special teams is one of the assets I have in my game. I'm just going to come in and do both."

The Dolphins obviously didn't think Ginn will become elite. That and the acquisition of Brandon Marshall made Ginn expendable. But Ginn doesn't accept the Marshall trade ushered him out of town.

"I didn't really know that," Ginn said. "I can't say, "Yeah, when we picked up Brandon Marshall I knew I was gone.' When we got the trade, I was happy. It was another guy coming to the Miami Dolphins. But in the same sense, you know the game, you know the business.  You're up for anything."

Ginn said he spoke to San Francisco coach Mike Singletary for the first time today.

"He didn't really tell me how he envisions using me," Ginn said. "He said it was a great situation for me and him. Just get down there and let's get with it."

Ginn was asked if he was surprised the Dolphins gave up on him after three years in the league.

"It's a game, it's a business," Ginn said. "They just wanted a new start. But like I said, it's no bad blood. It's the best decision for both of us and we moved on."