Time to discuss a couple more e-mails I've received over the past 7 to 10 days.
Why do so many Dolphin fans want to throw big money at the top cornerbacks in free agency? Don't we have more pressing needs? I mean, the Dolphins did rank just 4th in the league in passing yards allowed per game. I don't understand it. Thanks.
Well, in this league, you really don't win without getting good play from your cornerbacks. The Dolphins, in 2007, got dreadful play from their corners (and safeties). Sure, they only allowed 188.7 yards per game through the air. But that's because teams were too busy running all over Miami's defense. The Dolphins still allowed 7.79 yards per attempt (31st in NFL) and opposing quarterbacks had a rating of 92.4 (29th in NFL). So simply looking at passing yards allowed per game is very misleading.
But that doesn't mean all the corners of the Dolphins sucked. Will Allen actually had a very good season. He ranked 12th in the league among all corners in success rate, not allowing 60% of the passes in his direction to be caught, and 10th in the league in yards per pass (just 5.6 ypp). The problem with Allen, though, is he rarely intercepts the ball. In reality, he's not quite a #1 cornerback, which is why the Dolphins would be very, very comfortable if they could land one of the top free agent cornerbacks and move Allen down on the depth chart to #2.
The other Dolphins corner who played well last year was Michael Lehan. Lehan had a 53% success rate and allowed 7.1 yards per pass. Those would be solid numbers for a team's nickelback. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Lehan was a starter in 2007. Knowing this, how great would a Marcus Trufant (or Asante Samuel), Allen, and Lehan depth chart look come training camp?
I read that the Fins have over $31 million in salary cap space. I can't see Bill Percells using a whole lot of that money on free agents. He's never been a big spender in free agency. He used the draft and modestly priced free agents to build the Dallas roster into what it is now. What are your thoughts?
Well, first of all, I've seen various reports on how much cap room the Dolphins have, anywhere from $31 million (according to the Miami Herald) to $40 million (according to Peter King). Regardless, it's safe to say they got a ton of cap room.
So will they use it? I'm not sure. And I don't see how anyone can really be sure. You're right that Bill Parcells, when in Dallas, didn't make it a habit to sign big name players. But there's 2 major differences between that situation and the one he's walked into here in Miami. First of all, this Dolphins team is a much, much bigger mess than the team he inherited in Dallas. In reality, Parcells is trying to turn around what could quite possibly be the biggest mess in NFL history. Remember, this team was one very lucky win away from being the only team to ever go 0-16. So it's going to take a lot to turn this thing around.
And difference number two, and the most important to consider, is that Bill Parcells has NEVER had this much money to be able to spend on free agents. He now has between $30 million and $40 million to play with and is blessed with an owner who wants to win and will spare nothing to turn around this franchise. If you think Wayne Huizenga doesn't care about this team, then you must have missed his tearful celebration when Greg Camarillo sprinted into the endzone for the only win of 2007.
So those are 2 reasons why I don't think you can look at Parcells' past and say that he won't sign any big free agents this year. But do I think he will? I'm not sure. I'd be surprised if the Dolphins didn't sniff around some of the top guys on the market. And if one of those guys who are rumored to be getting franchised end up not getting franchised (Albert Haynesworth, for example), I could see the Dolphins making a strong push for them. In the end, though, I think it will come down to how much money these guys get. I doubt Parcells will be willing to pay Asante Samuel $11 million/season. But will he give $9 million/season to Marcus Trufant? Possibly, but I'm not sure.
I do think, however, that we will see some mid-tier free agents come to Miami. Isaac Sopoaga or Corey Williams could end up here. I think Ken Hamlin is a serious possibility (though I'd prefer Gibril Wilson if at all possible). One of the free agent receivers (Bryant Johnson, DJ Hackett, etc...) will likely end up in Miami. Will any of the big names end up here? That's a question that only time will tell.
As usual, your thoughts below...