Who says the NFL has dead periods? As it turns out, the franchise tag deadline creates a lot of news. And as Thursday unfolded, it really got me thinking.
Take everything I say here with a grain of salt - I reserve the right to change my opinion multiple times (and likely will). But basically, what is to follow is my initial reaction to everything that transpired on Thursday.
So where should I start? I guess I should begin with how I want to feel - and some of you might already feel this way. I'd like to feel good about this front office. I'd like to sit here and say it's great that Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland are sticking to their guns and don't seem to be in a rush to overpay to retain some of their own key free agents. They clearly have a value set for each of their players and they are showing some testicular fortitude and holding steady with their beliefs.
They refuse to give in to their knee-jerk reactions like some might. They aren't panicking because Jordan Gross and Max Starks are off the market, meaning Vernon Carey is now the best tackle available - which will result in a potentially large contract for Vern. They don't seemed fazed that the Rams' franchised O.J. Atogwe, which means Yeremiah Bell is probably the best available free agent safety (regardless of "free" vs "strong"). And just because Karlos Dansby got franchised, that doesn't mean this front office will now over-value Channing Crowder and give in to his financial demands.
That's terrific - or at least that's how I want to feel. After all, Bill Parcells has forgotten more about football than I will ever know. So why should I worry or second-guess, right?
Maybe. But I just can't shake the feeling that this offseason isn't going to go exactly how I had hoped. And by that, I don't want to sound like I'm referring to how many of the "star" free agents are now off the market, having either re-signed with their teams or having been slapped with the franchise tag. I wasn't hoping the Dolphins would land star free agents. That rarely happens and that isn't the "Parcells way."
But what I had hoped was for the Dolphins to fill some of their needs. Back in January, following the playoff loss to Baltimore, I assumed that the more pressing team needs were (in no particular order): center, guard, receiver, outside linebacker, nose tackle, and cornerback. But now, with how things seem to be shaping up, there could potentially be more holes opening up. To that above list, you can add tackle, inside linebacker, both safety positions, and add an emphasis to cornerback.
Just think about this for a second. The Dolphins' two leading tacklers are both in danger of leaving Miami. Three-fourths of the Dolphins' starting secondary remains unsigned. And their starting right tackle, who also happens to have experience at left tackle and is essentially Jake Long's backup, might get a chance to test the market - where other teams are sure to throw out more money than the Dolphins will want to toss at him.
Add to all that the idea of basic economics - as more teams lock up their own players and remove them from the market (therefore reducing the supply), the demand for the remaining players remains either unchanged or increases, which will result in very large price tags - and I think you can begin to see why I'm feeling a little anxious.
So let's build through the draft, right? That's this regime's motto - and is what some fans continue to preach left and right. That's all well and good - but what if this regime winds up with more "Shawn Murphys" rather than "Donald Thomases"? The draft is a crap-shoot, no matter how you slice it.
Maybe I'm just being paranoid - something that happens when you're a Dolphins fan and you've lived through some of our past regimes. But I think the bottom line, to me, is that this team has more holes now than they did in January. And when you deal with your own free agents, there's a fine line between being "strong-minded" and being "hard-headed" - a fine line between having a plan and being stubborn.
Right now, I'm not sure where this front office currently sits.