Miami Dolphins Free Agent Wide Receiver Options- Diamonds in the Rough

CHirs Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

There will be quite a handful free agent receivers that could contribute in 2013. Let us take a look at some 'diamonds in the rough' that could be great values if an opportunity strikes in South Florida.

Miami has an epic task this offseason, and of course, the popular topic over the next few months will be what shiny new targets Miami chooses to bring in at receiver to help Ryan Tannehill blossom to Pro Bowl level. We've already taken a look at the so-called "Big Three" last week, of course in reference to Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe, each of whom can very well end up in Miami a few months from now.

Miami does have the money to sign one of the aforementioned gentlemen (hell, even two if they so choose) but you can't forget that are 31 other teams out there in the NFL and no free agents are guaranteed predictions, no matter how much "sense" it might make in a fan's head. Even so, Miami's front office might choose to look at free agency to a target who may be out of the spotlight, yet who could make a solid contribution on the field. Most likely, the guys mentioned below will be more of a "complementary role" however, all signs do point to Miami looking to sign a top free agent wide receiver, draft one in one of the early rounds, or both.

The few names below will be possibly looked at, however if any of them actually do get signed there are two likely scenarios:

1.) This receiver will not be our TOP wide receiver. He will be more of a complementary role (#2-#4 receiver).

2.) Free agent WR Brian Hartline will NOT be retained. Look for this receiver to take Hartline's role, and possibly be brought in at a cheaper price.

So let's take a look at the unrestricted free agents that could be on the radar...

Diamonds in the Rough-

Plaxico Burress-

Years Experience: 11

Strengths: Size/Redzone

Interest Level: LOW

Plaxico rejoined his former team in Pittsburgh in Week 15 and tried to show that he had some juice left in the tank. The 6'5 target was one of the best red zone targets in his prime, but that was long ago and with his legal problems, age, and conditioning, he just doesn't make too much sense for Joe Philbin's rebuilding Dolphins.

Randy Moss-

Years Experience: 14

Strengths: Size/Redzone

Interest Level: LOW

Moss, the self-proclaimed "best receiver in NFL history" (Editor's note: lay off the crack bro) is fresh off another Super Bowl appearance and yet another disappointing loss. With probably a year or two of football left, at best, Moss is most likely looking to wrap up his career on a contender, so the Niners will probably keep him around for next to nothing. The future hall of famer was once the most exciting player in the game, but he doesn't make much sense for a team rebuilding from the ground up.

Deion Branch-

Years Experience: 11

Strengths: Size/Redzone

Interest Level: LOW

Branch is an interesting name that has been a product of the productive Patriots system for over a decade now. He's small, quick and shifty, but I can't imagine him being the answer here in Miami. One would think that the Dolphins already have Davone Bess under contract, who would be better suited in the slot anyway. Look for Branch to stay put in New England or be brought to another team as a reserve role.

Braylon Edwards-

Years Experience: 8

Strengths: Strength

Interest Level: LOW

The third overall pick of the 2006 draft is a big name that has shifted from place to place as of late. His size and strength could be of service, but Miami already turned down a chance to bring him in prior to last offseason. Teams have grown tired of his attitude not matching his performance and if Braylon couldn't perform on the Jets when they had practically NOBODY, don't look for him to be even a thought here in Miami.

Jerome Simpson-

Years Experience: 8

Strengths: Flips

Interest Level: LUKEWARM

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The flip heard round the world. Jerome Simpson was a big reason the Bengals made the playoffs in 2011, helping Andy Dalton & Co. secure a wildcard birth. Simpson is an athletic player with decent size and speed, and might hold top honors for best NFL play of all time. However, he was signed by Minnesota last year on a one year, $2 million deal and was a huge bust, being suspended for the first three games for violating the team's substance abuse policy and finishing without a touchdown. Don't look for him to be the answer, but stranger things have happened here in Miami.

Brandon Tate-

Years Experience: 4

Strengths: Strength

Interest Level: LUKEWARM

Dolphin fans remember Tate well enough, unfortunately it was because of his 103-yard kick return in a 2010 stomping from the Patriots down in South Florida. Tate fit well in the Patriot offense, using his big body and size to produce as a solid numbers at receiver and as well in special teams. In 2011 however, Tate was traded to Cincinnati, and although he has shown flashes, he has only 2 touchdowns in the last 2 years in Ohio.

Donnie Avery-

Years Experience: 5

Strengths: Speed/Playmaker

Interest Level: LUKEWARM

Here is where things get interesting... Avery excelled with his 2 first seasons in St. Louis, using his big play ability to accumulate for 9 touchdowns and a good chunk of Sam Bradford's offense. However, he missed all of 2010 with injury and was picked up by Tennessee the following year, where he battled injury and ended up with a whopping 3 catches on the entire season (although he did score!). His career was pretty much left for dead and flat lined, until he was signed this year with Indianapolis. Avery caught Andrew Luck's FIRST touchdown pass, a last second game-winner against Detroit, and finished with nearly 800 yards. SB Nation's Stampede Blue wrote a great article on him, which you can read here. Though Indianapolis will look to retain him to keep a top target for Luck, they may decide to go with rookie T.Y. Hilton in his role instead, and Miami could have an intriguing look at a possible steal at an outside wide receiver.

Brandon Gibson-

Years Experience: 6

Strengths: Deep Threat

Interest Level: LUKEWARM

Gibson_medium_medium

Another guy Miami might know a bit better than other teams, Gibson was drafted out of Washington State in the sixth round of the 2009 draft by the Eagles. He has spent his last full 3 years with the Rams, and capped off a pretty decent 2011 season, filling in for an injured Danny Amendola. Gibson shows good speed and hands and might find a new team if St. Louis looks to bring in a big name WR in this year's draft. Will Miami be on the radar?

Johnny Knox-

Years Experience: 4

Strengths: Speed/Versatility

Interest Level: HIGH

Knox missed the entire 2011 season after a gnarly back injury in 2010. Before then, Knox worked with Devin Hester, and were two of the fastest players at their position. Knox is a versatile receiver who can also produce in special teams and could be paired up with a bigger wideout for a nice little tandem. However his injury is a bit concerning and teams, including Miami, should be a bit weary when extending a contract, unless it's financially responsible.

Joshua Cribbs-

Years Experience: 8

Strengths: Strength

Interest Level: HIGH

The only 2013 Pro Bowler to make this list, Cribbs has excelled in special teams since his introduction to the NFL in 2005. He has been on his Cleveland his entire career and has quietly become one of the biggest play-makers in the midwest, earning a spot on the NFL's all decade team. While Cribbs holds a special spot in the hearts of many Browns fans, he is one of the league's most dangerous returners and might seek a decent contract from another team. Mix that with his ability at wide receiver, and you have to wonder if Miami would be willing to take a look if the price is right?

Ramses Barden-

Years Experience: 4

Strengths: Size

Interest Level: HIGH

Ramses Barden had to be a player on the Dolphins radar in the 2009 draft, before he was scooped up by the Giants in the third round. Barden not only has an awesome Egyptian-style name, but his 6'6 frame makes him one of the biggest targets in the league. He terrorized players back at division III Cal Poly, and showed promise in New York despite a handful of big name players get most of Eli Manning's attention. Despite his potential however, he has yet to catch a NFL touchdown in his four year career, so he's far from a pro bowl player at this point. However, he may be that ultimate diamond in the rough for a team who takes a flyer on him and he may be the ultimate steal in this year's free agency.

So what do you think about this year's free agency wide receiver class? Should Miami go all-in for a big name free agent receiver or would you want to go for a steal and get a "diamond in the rough" player? Regardless, look for Miami to make some serious moves to the depth chart in terms of wide receiver within the next two-three months.

Update: Reports from the Miami Herald are surfacing that the Dolphins are in talks with extending a contract to Brian Hartline. If this is the case, Miami may look to add receiver help, however the players on this list will be that much less likely to be in South Florida this year.

For a list of all free agent wide receivers check out Kevin Nogle's post here.

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