We've talked about this numerous times already, but I don't think you can understate this: this 2008 offseason will be the most important offseason in this franchise's history. And the Dolphins' front office, now led by Bill Parcells, will have numerous key decisions to make. One of those decisions is half done, with the firing of Randy Mueller earlier in the week. Now we just need to get a new GM in place. The next key decision will be the head coaching job.
So here's what we know right now. Armando Salguero is reporting that Parcells and Cam Cameron met on Tuesday around noon. And out of that meeting, nothing seems to have been decided. Later Tuesday night, Parcells was scheduled to have dinner with Jeff Ireland, the guy who many think will be the next GM of the Dolphins. Here's what Armando thinks will result from this dinner meeting between Parcells and Ireland:
Mr. Tuna wants his general manager and coach to be compatible so it's important that Ireland give Sparano the thumbs up. That would work against Cameron because Cameron and Ireland don't have a history together best I can tell.
Salguero does lay out a very possible scenario. It's likely, like most have said on this site, that Parcells does indeed want to hire his GM (likely to be Ireland) before making a decision on the head coach. Maybe Ireland gets hired and tells Parcells that he doesn't have a good relationship with Tony Sparano. Or maybe Ireland will tell Parcells that he works well with Sparano. Who knows? What we do know is that Cameron has no experience working with neither Ireland or Parcells, and that might not bode well for Cam. Either way, the clock is ticking for Parcells to decide on Cam's fate. If he waits too long (like until next week), then it's very possible we will not know what is going on with Miami's head coaching job until February (unless Dallas gets bounced from the playoffs early). So the waiting continues.
But we need to remember here that there are also decisions that need to be made on players. In particular, the Dolphin free agents. Here's a list of the more prominent Dolphin free agents for 2008:
Channing Crowder (can be F/A if he opts out)
Rex Hadnot, in my opinion, is the most important one of these players to resign. He's the vocal leader of this offensive line and played very well at right guard this past season. And because of his versatility, he's a very valuable player to have on your offensive line. Now his agent had been in talks sometime during the 2nd half of the season about an extension. But that was with Mueller. So we don't really know where he stands with the new regime. But one thing I do know is that the Dolphins should act fast and get Hadnot signed to a long term deal before he hits the open market. Otherwise, some teams will likely throw some good money Hadnot's way and may force the Dolphins to spend even more to retain him.
Then you have to look at Channing Crowder. Now, Crowder can choose to opt out of his rookie contract or decide to stay in Miami and finish up his rookie deal. It ends after the 2008 season. I think it would be wise, despite his recent injury, to lock him up long-term as soon as possible. I like what I've seen from Crowder this year. He started out slow but really came on before his ankle and knee injuries. Losing Crowder would not be good, especially when you consider that the futures of both Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas are both very much in limbo.
Moving along, I think it's a must to bring back Yeremiah Bell in 2008. He had a terrific 2nd half of 2006 and was on the verge of really coming into his own before suffering the Achille's injury back in week one of '07. But because of the injury, Bell would likely come back to Miami relatively cheap. I don't think the Dolphins have anything to really lose by bringing Bell back. It's a low risk/high reward type situation. And if Parcells and company decide to let Bell walk, it would be a very stupid move.
Jesse Chatman, Greg Camarillo, and Derrick Pope are 3 interesting players. Chatman played quite well filling in for Ronnie Brown until Jesse himself suffered an injury. That injury caused him to miss some games and certainly limited him once he returned to the field. There were reports before Mueller was fired that claimed Chatman's agent was told the Dolphins wanted him back. I wonder how the firing of Randy as well as the potential canning of Cam (Jesse's personal career savior) will affect Chatman's chances at returning. I don't think that he's a "must resign" player, but I do think that, if the price tag is right, he's a guy that should remain with this team (at least until camp and we can see how Ronnie's comeback is doing).
Camarillo and Pope are both quality backup players and I think the Dolphins really should do their best to keep these two in Miami. Camarillo has shown some flashes since becoming active on gamedays. He doesn't have great speed but he does seem to run good routes. Pope actually surprised me and played pretty well when he got his chance to see a lot of game action following all the injuries to this defense. He likely won't cost much to bring back and his experience with this team and this system would be a valuable asset to have in a backup linebacker.
The others I could care less about. Chris Liwienski simply sucks. Cleo Lemon thinks he is better than he really is. Donnie Spragan isn't terrible, but he hasn't shown me any reason that he should remain a Dolphin. Patrick Cobbs is a victim if a potentially crowded backfield. And an upgrade is needed at corner desperately, meaning Michael Lehan isn't really necessary. However, bringing him back as a 4th corner might not be a bad idea if the price is right. I just think the Dolphins need to go get Asante Samuel or Marcus Trufant to be this franchise's true #1 corner and then slide Will Allen to the #2 corner.
So that's my overview of the situation.