As the various quarterback possibilities have been discussed the past few weeks, I've been wondering in my head if the impact of the current labor situation might affect how the Miami Dolphins and their ability to land a new quarterback. Since the season ended earlier this month, both fans and the media alike have been raising numerous scenarios as to how the Dolphins might address their current quarterback situation. And the whole time, I've been left wondering if the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners will help or hurt the Dolphins' chances of acquiring a new quarterback.
That's why I figured I might as well spell out what I've been thinking about the past few weeks right here and get some thoughts on what others think of this whole mess.
First, let me quickly touch on the major difference between past offseasons and this particular offseason. In the past, teams were obviously able to sign free agents and trade players beginning in early March - on the date that the "new league year" began. But with no CBA in place right now once this current agreement is expires (which it will early next month), there is no "new league year" set to begin. What this means, in a nut shell, is that teams cannot trade players nor can teams sign free agents.
The NFL Draft, however, will still go on as scheduled at the end of April. What this means is that there is a chance - some might even say a very good chance - that the draft will take place before any free agency begins. In that possible situation, teams will still be able to trade draft picks. But they will not be able to trade players.
The impact is obvious - those who have been in favor of acquiring a veteran quarterback like Kevin Kolb, Vince Young, or Kyle Orton might have to wait quite some time before the Dolphins can even attempt to make a move. What I think this situation might mean is that we should expect the Dolphins to draft a quarterback at some point during April's draft. How early? That's still very much unknown.
Back to my original question. Is this situation a positive or a negative for the Dolphins. I have two different angles I've been debating in my head which I want to pose to you.
The positive perspective
If the draft does indeed take place before a new CBA is reached, meaning free agency and trades will follow the draft, the Dolphins could benefit from other teams filling their quarterback needs with rookies. There are a number of quarterback needy teams that will not want to wait until whenever a new CBA is reached, therefore spending valuable draft picks on rookie signal callers.
What this might mean for the Dolphins, if they feel daring enough to pass on the early round quarterbacks, is less competition for the veterans available via free agency or through trades. Less competition obviously means having to give up less to trade for and/or sign a veteran quarterback. Teams having invested early round picks on rookie quarterbacks will be far less likely to get into bidding wars for veteran quarterbacks like Kolb or Orton should the become available.
The negative perspective
There are two ways I could see this situation playing out poorly for the Dolphins. The first way would be if GM Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins feel that they can't take the risk of waiting for a veteran quarterback. This could mean the Dolphins end up reaching in the draft for a quarterback. If other QB hungry teams also feel this way, we have the potential of seeing quarterbacks get overvalued and drafted far too early in the draft. And as we have seen, missing on first or second round quarterbacks can really set your franchise back.
The other way I could see this situation playing out negatively would be if the Dolphins feel overly confident about their ability to acquire a veteran quarterback and decide to pass on the top quarterback prospects available in the draft - only to fail in acquiring a veteran after the draft. This situation would leave the Dolphins with essentially the same questions at quarterback they face right now...but without any possible solutions to the problem. In essence, their window of opportunity for improving their quarterback situation will have slammed shut.
Time for Ireland to earn his paycheck
General manager Jeff Ireland is the man who will be asked to handle this situation. It's an unenviable position to say the least, with the chances of failure far greater than the chances of success. But the labor uncertainty facing the league does provide general managers like Ireland an small opportunity to really shine. Every NFL team is facing the same situation. This is essentially uncharted territory for every NFL front office. If Ireland can play his cards right, there's no question the Dolphins can have a very successful offseason.
Does he have it in him? That's what we're all going to find out.