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Some Free Agent Buzz

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On Wednesday, there was an interesting article in the Miami Herald that talked a lot about what the Dolphins could potentially do in free agency this offseason.  So what I thought we'd do is go piece by piece and talk about some of the highlights of this article.

Last week, many of us talked about how the Ravens' center Jason Brown would be a good fit in Miami should he not get re-signed by Baltimore.  Well it seems like we aren't the only ones who feel this way:

There's speculation Miami might pursue well-regarded Baltimore center Jason Brown, 25, if he hits the market -- at 320, he's 20 to 25 pounds heavier than Samson Satele.

Brown is that physical, mauling center that Bill Parcells generally likes.  And that's the kind of center this team needs if they want to become a "physical, pound the rock" kind of team.  But it is believed that the Ravens are already talking about a long-term contract which would keep Brown in Baltimore for many years.  If he does hit free agency, expect Brown to get a deal similar to - and possibly even richer than - Shaun O'Hara's 5 year, $19 million deal he signed back in 2007.

The biggest question along the offensive line this offseason, though, is what the Dolphins will do at right tackle.  Says the Herald:

Since the season ended, the Dolphins conveyed interest in re-signing Carey (haven't talked numbers)...Carolina's Jordan Gross, Cincinnati's Stacy Andrews, Miami's Vernon Carey, Pittsburgh's Max Starks and New Orleans' Jon Stinchcomb are the top tackles potentially available, and if the Dolphins cannot re-sign Carey, they could make a run at Starks (UF); sign a stopgap such as Green Bay starter Mark Tauscher (coming off a knee injury) and then draft a long-term answer; or sign an emerging backup ready to start full time (Seattle's Ray Willis fits that mold).

I firmly believe that the Dolphins' decision on Vernon Carey will be the key offseason move that sets the rest of Miami's wheels in motion.  If they re-sign Carey - and it likely won't be cheap to do so - then the Dolphins can turn their focus from right tackle to other areas of need.  But if the Dolphins decide to let Carey walk, they must focus on the RT spot in some way. 

The article mentions Jordan Gross, the '08 1st team All-Pro.  And the Panthers might be forced to let him walk simply because of the fact that they only have roughly $10 million in cap room and also have Julius Peppers as a free agent.  Odds are that Carolina won't be able to re-sign both - and will have to use the franchise tag on one and let the other walk.  If it's Gross, he'd be on Miami's radar for sure.  But at what price?  My guess would be a 5 year, $45 to $48 million deal for Gross - and that's a conservative estimate.

The idea of signing Mark Tauscher as a stop-gap until a rookie they take this year is ready seems intriguing.  But Tauscher is coming off of his 2nd torn ACL and will be 32 years old by training camp.  The injury also didn't occur until December, meaning Tauscher likely wouldn't even be ready for the beginning of training camp.  Too risky, if you ask me - even if he seeks a deal just higher than the league minimum.

If you ask me, and though he wasn't spectacular this year, the Dolphins have got to re-sign Carey.  We know he has the ability - we've seen the flashes.

Inside linebacker is another critical area this offseason and will include another key decision.  Do the Dolphins bring back Channing Crowder?  It makes a good debate - and both sides can make valid points.  But as it stands now, the Dolphins haven't even contacted Crowder's agent since the season ended.  The Herald adds:

The Dolphins and Channing Crowder don't see eye to eye on money, and Miami is expected to consider Ravens inside linebacker Bart Scott, whom Baltimore might not be able to afford because Suggs and Ray Lewis are free agents. If Miami signs neither Scott nor Crowder, options fitting Miami's size preference include Cleveland's Andra Davis and the Jets' Eric Barton, with the NFL Draft offering a longer-term answer.

If the Dolphins don't being back Crowder, Bart Scott has got to be the guy they go after.  There are no other guys out there who can perform at the level needed.  And entering the draft without a viable inside linebacker option on the roster to replace Crowder seems a bit too risky for me.  What if the player or players they are targeting at ILB are all selected by other teams?  Would the Fins then have to reach for a player they wouldn't have reached for just to help fill the void at a key position?

One guy the Herald fails to mention is Karlos Dansby, another potential inside linebacker option.  He's 6'4, 250 (which meets this regime's size requirements for linebackers), is only 27 years old, and plays in a 3-4 defense.  The only catch with Karlos is that he likely wouldn't come cheap - probably hoping for similar money as his former teammate Calvin Pace got from the Jets (6 year, $42 million).

But here's my final thought about the inside linebacker situation.  I'd be very disappointed if the Dolphins approach April's draft and none of those 3 (Crowder, Dansby, Scott) are on Miami's roster.

One final nugget from the Herald's article.  It does say that the Dolphins are in ongoing talks with Yeremiah Bell's agent and that the Fins do indeed want to re-sign Bell.  They also reportedly want to re-sign Andre Goodman.

Thoughts on any of this?