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Fins' receiver, tight end free agent options; UM roster moves; Wade addresses Barkley; Marlins

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Some Dolphins fans lit up when they heard Miami will have at least $40 million, with the ability to create more than $50 million in cap space this offseason, when star receivers Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace are due to become free agents.

But as the offseason nears, a more realistic perspective has settled over Dolphins fans. They know a lot of the cap space will be needed to re-sign several players, such as Sean Smith, Brian Hartline, and possibly Randy Starks, Jake Long (Miami would like to keep him if the price is right) and others. They also know they can no longer expect this regime to make a huge splash in free agency, barring a change of heart.

No, Miami hasn’t ruled out spending on a top free agent. Those discussions won’t take place until January and February. But it would be a departure in offensive philosophy if they do. Here’s how one official in frequent contact with Miami’s front office put it:

“If the value is right on an [impact] free agent, they would [consider] it,” he said, reminding that the Dolphins made Karlos Dansby the league’s highest-paid inside linebacker before the 2010 season. “But they won’t overpay. They absolutely will not. There’s not a philosophy of, “We’ve got to have this one guy.’ Do you want to severely encumber your ability to build a team by paying one guy [a ton]?

Jeff [Ireland] and Joe [Philbin] really value draft picks, and Jeff believes he’s good at it. If you hit on rookies, you have those guys for four years, at [affordable] cap numbers.”

Philbin has said repeatedly that he believes in building through the draft. “In my time in Green Bay, I don’t really remember acquiring, offensively anyway, a free agent,” he said.

The official said Ireland also prioritizes the draft but is more flexible with regard to free agency. What if Philbin advises Ireland against pursuing Jennings, Wallace or Bowe and suggests finding a receiver in the draft instead? “Jeff would be cool with doing it through the draft,” the official said.

All of the star receivers have blemishes. Jennings, 29, had 1265 receiving yards two years ago but has missed a lot of time this season because of abdominal surgery and has just 17 catches in five games. The concern is that he may be on the decline after several exceptional years playing in Philbin’s and Mike McCarthy’s offense in Green Bay.

Wallace, who had 1193 and 1257 yards the previous two seasons, has 728 this season, with six drops but also eight touchdowns. Bowe’s numbers (59 catches, 801 yards) are similar to Hartline’s (62, 925), with both playing in offenses with struggling quarterbacks.

Among other receivers set to become free agents: Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Donnie Avery.

Miami also might be more inclined to look again for a tight end in the draft, after failing to hit on Michael Egnew. But several free agents would be immediate upgrades - Martellus Bennett, Jared Cook, Fred Davis (has a torn Achilles’) and Dustin Keller.

A strong case could be made to pursue Bennett, who has played very well for the Giants. The Dolphins inexplicably didn't pursue him last March and instead drafted Egnew, who the Dolphins believe is still not ready to contribute.

CHATTER

### Heat guard Dwyane Wade on Tuesday shrugged off Charles Barkley’s claim that he has lost athleticism but admitted that he’s still not 100 percent after offseason knee surgery.

“Athleticism is more than just dunking,” he said in a private moment. “Coming off knee surgery, there are going to be some great days and some days not so great. It’s going to take me time. With knee surgery, sometimes you can take a whole year before you get back to 100 percent. This is my third one.”

Wade, who was third among all players in ESPN’s efficiency ratings last season and 20th this season, is shooting 50.6 percent (above his 48.6 career average) but taking 15.3 shots per game, down from 17 last year and 18.2 in his career.

“A lot of people don’t look at the true facts,” he said. “They don’t look at minutes played, shot attempts. I’m still scoring 20 points a game and not playing as many minutes or shooting as many shots. You’ve got to look at how efficient a player is before you start talking about the demise of a player.

“If I had 20 something shots a game, I would average 30 a night. Book it!”

### On Barkley’s claim that Wade can’t beat players one-on-one anymore, Chris Bosh said: “He does beat his guy one-on-one. Just ask those guys that guard him. You are going to lose a step as you get older, but great players always find a way.”

### Erik Spoelstra said he has been starting Udonis Haslem instead of Shane Battier – which Haslem said he “didn’t see coming” – to add Haslem’s rebounding to the starting unit and Battier’s defense to the second unit. The reasoning makes some sense and the sample size with Haslem starting so far is too small to make a final conclusion. But consider this:

With Battier playing with the other starters, the Heat is plus-48 in 160 minutes. With Haslem starting, the starting unit is minus-17 in 32 minutes.

Haslem likes starting but admits, "I usually like to sit on the sideline and watch how the game is going."

Overall, the Heat has outscored opponents by 98 (best on the team) with Battier on the court, but has been outscored by 34 with Haslem or Rashard Lewis on the court (worst on the team).

### Seantrel Henderson and Curtis Porter told UM coaches they expect to return for their senior seasons, but Henderson also asked for NFL feedback on how high he would be drafted. So nobody at UM can be certain what Henderson will do, despite what he told coaches. Mel Kiper said Henderson would be a second- or third-rounder if he comes out but said he should not turn pro.

### Several schools, including Wisconsin, have reached out to UM coach Al Golden, but Golden has told everyone he's staying at Miami.

### Barring a change of heart by UM, the Hurricanes no longer expect highly-recruited receiver Angelo Jean-Louis to be part of their 2013 recruiting class. He committed to UM last year but didn't qualify and spent the past semester in prep school…. If Thomas Finnie (arrested for his involvement in last week's laptop theft) is off the team for good, UM essentially is losing the player it considers its fourth-best returning cornerback. Tracy Howard, Ladarius Gunter and Antonio Crawford likely will be UM’s top three next season, with Nate Dortch, Larry Hope and oral commitment Artie Burns competing for time.

### Former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt has been telling people how much he would like the FIU head job. He has a career 135-96 record at Murray State, Boise, Arkansas and Mississippi. But he was just 24-26 in his last job (Ole Miss).

### Desperately looking for a third baseman, the Marlins have inquired about Matt Downs, who hit .276 with 10 homers and 41 RBI for the Astros in 2011 but .202 last year. Their free agent third-base options are down to the likes of Downs, Ryan Raburn, Jack Hannahan, Ty Wigginton, Casey McGehee Miguel Cairo and Mark DeRosa. They have explored trades as well.

Comments

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dbc

thanks, Barry, for the UM news in particular!

Eddie

I'd have more confidence in the dolphins drafting a receiver if I trusted the person drafting them.

Terry King

FORGET THE TRADITIONAL WAY THE DOLPHINS HAVE DONE THINGS LATELY THEY NEED A PLAYMAKING WIDE RECEIVER WHO CAN STRETCH THE FIELD AND DOES NOT CAUSE PROBLEMS IN THE LOCKER ROOM. THAT PLAYER IS MIKE WALLACE! HE DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THE SAVIOR OF THE OFFENSE BUT HE DOES HAVE TO ADD THAT DEEP THREAT OVER THE TOP RECEIVER WE NEED. BOWE AND JENNINGS CANNOT GET DEEP ANY MORE THAN HARTLINE CAN AND WILL NOT OPEN THE FIELD UP FOR THE RECEIVERS WE ALREADY HAVE. THE DOLPHINS HAVE NEVER MADE THE SUPER BOWL WITHOUT THAT DEEP THREAT RECEIVER(WARFIELD,DUPER). SO I WILL SHOUT OUT EVERY WEEK UNTIL SOMEONE SIGNS HIM THAT HE BELONGS IN A DOLPHIN UNIFORM! MIKE WALLACE!

TInSouthMiami

1. Let Hartline go aind draft 2 WR
2. Houston Nutt would be fine at FIU

PAZ

Jeff's job is talent acquisition within budget, not winning. Winning is Philbin's job.
I am not going to say Jeff's failed, but he gets a D, below expectations. So no, he is not good at drafting.

mike

TInSouthMiami, Let a 1,000 yard receiver go...really, not a smart move at all.

carreramia

Thrashing the Fins so-called "offensive philosophy" (whatever that means) in signing top FA's should be the second thing to go this off-season, right after Ireland is sent packing. Let's see: what has that "philosophy" accomplished? * crickets * crickets *....u get the idea. Look at the immediate improvement by Tampa's young QB when the org there got him WR Vincent Jackson and Clark (TE). Wallace should be target no. 1 and he should not be allowed to leave Miami until he signs.

CANETILLIDIE.....DH

Thanks Barry for the U News. Happy to hear that Henderson and Porter are sticking it out down here. It'll only help them later on. Sad to hear about AJL, I was really looking forward to him playing in Orange and Green. Thomas Finnie - can't believe he got involved with that. Get your life together man and do two things and just those two things - Go to class, and play football. That's it. Dammit Man! Happy to hear that Golden is running around without sleep recruiting. GOLDEN SUPPORTER 100%!!!!!

GO CANES 2013!!!!

Miami Penguin

UM needs to be very nice to Al Golden, after self-imposing not once but twice.

Ireland needs to be more modest about his abilities during the draft.

KillerFin

Why are all these idiots wanting to keep Sean Smith he SUCKS, cut the cord with him!!! If Ross is smart get Bowe & Wallace we could let Hertline go if need be!!! Keep Starks & draft the rest in!!! If Long don't negotiate let him go too, he hasn't stayed healthy since his rookie season anyway!!!

KillerFin

DO NOT LET IRELAND PICK ANYTHING CUT THAT CORD TOO!!! Leave the picks to Philbin & Coyle & what they need, Ireland has ruined this team enough. FIRE IRELAND!!!

sickandtired

Barry, is Ireland returning a foregone conclusion? How much losing (games, fans, reputation, respect) does one man need to create before being shown the door?

TP

Why do people insist on typing in all caps? Yeah yeah, I know, you want to be heard. Ironic though that half of us skip right over annoying all cap posts.

TInSouthMiami

Hartline is nothing special just another guy like Bess
Sign Bowe and draft another WR or 2

Jo jo

Don t care for any of the Dolphin receivers.How many games do they win/did they win for the team??????/Any??????????

canesallltheway

Finnie is done, I know Al Golden won't put up with that serious charge. Artie Burns and Jamal Carter are more than capable of stepping up, so is Larry Hope. Our secondary will still be extremely young though.

expatinbrasil

Glad to hear that Henderson is probably going to stick around for his senior year. He really needs to bring it every down if he wants to improve his draft position. There is no reason at all that he should not be a more dominant player.

Hopefully a decision will be made quickly about letting Finnie keep his scholarship - I doubt he will and if it is pulled it makes room for one more recruit... maybe a JUCO DLine player who could help out early in bringing some pressure.

CanesOz89

Patriots are waiting on Dolphins to let go Hartline so they can make them their next Wes Welker.

They are lickin their chops!

ginrai

I can't stand them grabbing our former players Patsos. I'd like to see the Dolphins give them some payback soon ,and ride up the score on them for a change.

dolfanman13

I seriously hope the Fins don't plan on spending a lot on resigning their own players. Guys like Smith, Hartline and Long aren't worth big money.

Lt. Lois Einhorn

CanesOz89, in what way other than being white is Brian Hartline anything like Wes Welker?

Pats don't want Hartline.

Davone Bess or Reggie Bush they'd kill for.

Keith Hurley

Let Long go, unless he agrees to less money.
Draft Lee from SoCal.
Draft Notre Dames' Tight End
Draft Tavon Austin from West Virginia as another WR.
Then draft for a CB and younger LB

optimistic

M.Lee is not available for the draft. he'e a rookie.

optimistic

patterson ,who is a juco transfer for tenn,is eligible
for the draft and a beast. he's your playmaker.

Ba

Just let the justice system play itself out, and react accordingly with Thomas Finnie.

Just don't jump the gun on him. He has no prior arrest records.

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