Looking at where we stand as of now, a team with no identity and dwindling wins by season, it is obvious that change is in order. Joe Philbin and co. have been taking a very careful approach to FA this offseason, aside from the frantic pursuit of Peyton Manning's services, which I believe was more Ross-drivin than Philbin anyway. The team has been careful in spending, and bringing back a defensive anchor like Paul Soliai was crucial, and at a good price (2 yrs / $12mil). The versatility and experience of Richard Marshall, who was referred to as the "glue" of Arizona's defence last season, is going to at the very least force Sean Smith to step his game up. Playing him in the nickel, and wherever else in new DC Kevin Coyle's hybrid defensive scheme, fills a need at a bargain bin price when compared to the new contracts of Cortland Finnegan, Eric Wright, and Brandon Carr.
Now to address the most controversial move made by the front office: Trading Brandon Marshall. Looking at the situation, I think that trading Marshall was a logical move, one Joe Philbin may have been mulling from day 1. The problem is Marshall's latest altercation at a night club. Considering his past, discipline from the NFL is inevitable for next season. Occurring right at the start of free agency, when there are multiple unsigned options at receiver, didn't help Marshall's value in a trade either. Considering these factors, you can see how such a highly regarded, young, Pro-Bowl, and freak of nature receiver could be traded for just a set of 3rd round picks. Another thing to take out of this deal, Joe Philbin and the Green Bay offence was a west coast, spread the ball out game, relying on quick, sure handed ballers with exceptional route running ability to be on the field. In our traditional system, this was not the case. We used Marshall as a centrepiece in the air game, and his brutish style, high salary, off the field distractions, and unfavourable drops are the cause for Philbin and the front office to move on to a more scheme friendly player. Having said that, something to note from Phiblin's background with the Packers, the entire offence was drafted by the organization, with key cogs like Jermichael Finlay, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones to name a few, all found in the 2nd-4th rounds, right were we have gained picks. Spending all that time involved in Green Bay's draft evaluations, Phiblin will undoubtedly bring the blueprint used by Green Bays drafting for their WCO to Miami. I like the sounds of that, and if it holds true, that pair of 3rd round picks we got from Chicago could turn out to be more than just a replacement for Marshall, and at a much lower cost.
Looking at the state of the franchise today, I see a number of positions that could use added depth and improvement in general. Having said that, with roughly $14 million left in cap space, our FO will have to go about this in the most cost friendly manner possible. The draft, for instance, where we hold 8 picks, with the possibility of trading out of the top 10 to gain a few more picks, will add young talent at a reasonable price. One thing I cannot stress enough is overdrafting players, case in point: Ryan Tannehill. Ideally, I think trading with Cincinnati to #17, or Tennessee at #20 are the most realistic venues. Trading out of the top 20 should not be considered, as we still need to secure a blue chip talent this year. If we sit at 20, or even 17, and Tannehill drops to us, I can't blame the front office for picking him up. Having said that, if you sit on the number 8 pick, Tannehill and Riley Reiff are my most upsetting targets. A top 10 pick should be used to select a game changer, someone who can impact the momentum of the game and bring identity to your organization, and while a QB like Tannehill has that potential, he is a 2nd rate prospect. His limited experience as a starting QB with Mike Sherman at the college level, and his 15 INT's of last season, has me questioning his value in the top 10 further, under the same coordinator, in the competitive AFC east, and learning the ropes in a city like Miami, where the fan base has been calling for a franchise quarterback for years, adds alot of pressure on the guy. This is a poor combination of factors, and has me leaning toward a free agent option at quarterback this season. Overall though, I like the idea of trading down to add a few more picks in the draft. For a team with as many questions on the depth chart as we have, a top 10 pick is too valuable to sit on and gain just one starter in my opinion. Adding a pick in the 2nd, or a couple 3rd/4th's is a better way to address our issues if you ask me.
Looking at the Free Agent market, you have the leave the call on Matt Flynn up to Joe Philbin. Nobody in the Dolphins organization could have a better understanding of this guys ability, but not only that, work ethic, leadership, and football I.Q. A lot of fans are going to be upset at missing out on Flynn to Seattle, but if he's not worth almost $9mil per season, and isn't 1st grade material, who better to make that call then his OC during Flynn's tenure with the Packers. Moving on to the options that are still on the table, if it is imperative we come away from the offseason with another veteran QB, I like Alex Smith. Garrard was an inconsistent passer in Jacksonville, and never really played for a dominant team in the NFL. Factor in his age (34), and the fact that he sat out all of last season, not to mention was cut by an untalented Jacksonville team even before this surgery, I don't much cherish the thought of him in a Dolphins uniform. Alex Smith, on the otherhand, is fresh off NFC championship appearance, and quarterbacked SF to a 13-3 season a year ago, in a WCO that didn't feature many star athletes, save Vernon Davis. If you consider how Smith has had to learn a new system almost every year he was with SF, and this season was the first time he had the same system two years in a row, its not surprising to me he had his "breakout season". With his past #1 overall draft selection, age (27), and winning attitude, he's our man. Matching SF's offer at 3 years for roughly $8mil per season is a move that could strap the team cap wise, but one I think is very much needed.
Thank you for reading, and go FINS! Let's see how this squad begins to look in April after our draft class arrives!