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Backup QB a big decision for Miami Dolphins

What shall the Miami Dolphins do with their quarterback position this offseason?

It's a fair question because the team obviously is going to engage starter Ryan Tannehill's representatives about a contract extension. If no extension can be worked out before May, the team will exercise its option of putting a one-year extension on the deal that is guaranteed for injury only but ties Tannehill to Miami through 2016.

So longterm or not, high-priced or not, the Dolphins have their starting quarterback.

But what about a backup?

It is an important question as well because Matt Moore is an unrestricted free agent. It is an important question because the state of the Miami offensive line has been such that Tannehill has been sacked more than any NFL quarterback the past two years and that statistic is like playing Russian Roulette with your quarterback's health and durability.

It is an important question because the Dolphins need a certain type of backup -- a veteran backup. And the market of those guys who are somewhat reliable does not exactly offer a deep pool of talent.

Let's tackle that issue first. The Dolphins -- indeed every team, in my estimation -- would be wise to draft a quarterback every single year. Every single year. The position is the most important on the team and stocking it makes sense, albeit not necessarily on the first or even the second day of the draft.

Young, project QBs can be valuable because even when they don't become a starter for the team that picked them, they often pay dividends in trade to another quarterback-needy team. Former Green Bay general manager Ron Wolf is a newly minted Hall of Famer and part of his annual draft strategy was adding a quarterback.

Those guys didn't always play for the Packers. Indeed, few ever did. But Wolf drafted Mark Brunell in the fifth round of the 1993 draft and traded him to Jacksonville two years later for a third and a fifth-round pick. He selected Matt Hasselbeck in the sixth round in 1998 and traded him to Seattle for a first round pick three years later.

Quarterbacks are commodities that can be grown and then traded for profit. So the Dolphins might do well to pick up on that.

But I am not advocating picking a QB late in the coming draft and expecting him to be the backup. And I don't believe that's going to be Miami's thinking, either.

The fact is the Dolphins coaching staff (particularly coach Joe Philbin) needs a veteran backup who can have a reasonable chance to salvage a season if Tannehill is injured. The staff's job status is tenuous in 2015, as everyone knows, so they will want to maximize every opportunity to win. Losing the starting QB and handing the reins to a rookie selected late in the draft is career suicide.

And I do not believe Philbin and Co. are ready to commit to that.

So a veteran backup it is.

The most obvious choice is, hmmm, thinking, pondering, studying the lists, oh yes, Matt Moore.

Moore has been with the Dolphins since 2011. He took well to the Bill Lazor offense last year. He is a very good sounding board for Tannehill. He understands his role. He doesn't make trouble.

But if there is trouble on the injury front, Matt Moore has started 25 NFL games.

So re-signing Moore is probably option No. 1.

If, however, Moore thinks it is time to move on or gets a better offer from, say, Arizona, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Houston, Chicago, the New York Jets (Todd Bowles was Miami's interim coach in 2011 when Moore started 12 games), Tennessee, or Tampa Bay, then the Dolphins will have to go shopping.

And the list of free agent quarterbacks is loooong.

To wit:

Mark Sanchez.

Blaine Gabbert.

Josh Johnson.

Shaun Hill.

Tarvaris Jackson.

Josh McCown.

Jimmy Clausen.

Dan Orlovsky.

Matt Flynn.

Christian Ponder.

T.J. Yates.

Colt McCoy.

Michael Vick.

Tyrod Taylor.

Jason Campbell.

Brian Hoyer.

Ryan Mallett.

Hasselbeck (assuming he doesn't retire).

Jake Locker.

Sanchez has New York Jets ties to Mike Tannenbaum, the new Dolphins executive vice president in charge of everything and everyone except Joe Philbin, Tom Garfinkel, Dan Marino and Dennis Hickey. 

Flynn has ties to Philbin from their days at Green Bay.

Campbell (Washington), Hasselbeck (Seattle), Vick (Philadelphia) have ties to OC Lazor from his time with those teams as a quarterback coach.

And then there is one more name that you should not forget ... Josh Freeman.

Freeman was out of football in 2014. His fall from grace, not to mention accuracy, was both curious and cataclysmic. I mean, the guy is 6-6 and 240 pounds. He threw 25 TDs and only six INTs his second year in the league in 2010. He completed 61 percent of his passes. The future was sunshine bright.

And then he fell off the table.

His completion percentage dropped. His interception rate rose. He fell out of favor in Tampa Bay. He went to Minnesota and bombed. He was signed by the Giants last April but was cut in May and was out of the league last season.

He is an enigma.

And yet Dennis Hickey was part of the Tampa Bay personnel department that pegged Freeman as a first-round pick in 2009.

I'm not saying Hickey loves Freeman. I'm not saying he's interested.

I'm saying Freeman has ties to the Miami general manager. He is out there.

As is the next Dolphins backup quarterback.