It's amazing how quickly we forget.
We forget how this front office rebuilds teams. With all this big money being tossed around by other NFL teams, this regime stood pat. They didn't overspend during the first weekend of free agency. They didn't let "the market" dictate how much they would or should spend on players.
And we should have expected this. After all, Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland really didn't go crazy spending money in free agency last offseason, either. They made one moderately big signing (Justin Smiley) and then really spent the rest of free agency trying to find cheap talent that could upgrade the bottom third of the roster by signing numerous small contracts. Perhaps that's why many Dolphin fans were probably hoping for more than just two new Dolphins this past weekend. And that's probably why some Dolphin fans were disappointed this past weekend.
But let's be honest for a second - Parcells and Ireland know what they are doing. They aren't going to overspend in free agency like many teams do. And why should they? The last 3 Super Bowl champion teams - the Steelers, Giants, and Colts - were all teams that were mainly built the old-fashioned way - through the draft. So while the Jets and the Redskins spend big money on free agents - as they've done in the past - just think about how far all that spending has acutally gotten those two franchises.
I'm not going to lie, though. Like any of you, I was hoping for that one big-ticket free agent acquisition. But spending more on a center than on your right tackle is just crazy. That's what it would have cost the Dolphins to sign Jason Brown - who signed a deal that pays an average of $7.5 million per year and guarantees him $20 million over 5 years. Vernon Carey, on the other hand, will make just $7 million per year and only $15 million is guaranteed over 6 years. Simply not worth it - and the Dolphins knew that.
But the first weekend of free agency will be more known for the "lesser" players who got overpaid. Defensive end Antonio Smith - a player who averages just 3.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss over his 4 year career - got a 5 year, $35 million deal from the Texans. Another defensive lineman, Rocky Bernard, got a 4 year, $16 million deal from the Giants despite turning 30 soon and avaraging just 42 tackles and 4 sacks over his last 3 seasons. But the most ridiculous deal so far was the Ravens' decision to give Domonique Foxworth a 4 year, $27.2 million deal with $16.5 million of it guaranteed. If you've ever seen him play, you'd know that he's just not a very good cornerback - and his 4 career interceptions prove that he's not a playmaker, either. But apparently he's worth nearly $7 million in this ridiculous free agenct market.
And that is why what the Dolphins have done is so smart - though some fans seem disappointed or angry. Rather than spend big money on other team's free agents, they spent a majority of their money on their own players - allowing them to grow within a system that is familiar to them and developing them from within. You'll remember that I was frustrated over a week ago because I thought that this front office was being too stubborn with their own free agents and I was worried that they would let their own guys walk. Instead, Parcells and Ireland did just the opposite - signing Vernon Carey, Channing Crowder, and Yeremiah Bell - and prevented themselves from creating any more holes than this team already has.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the Dolphins struck on Thursday with their one big free agency acquisition - signing safety Gibril Wilson to a $5 year, $27.5 million deal - a deal that includes less guaranteed money and less per year than the deal the Ravens signed Foxworth to. Wilson's signing was quickly followed by Bell's re-signing. And just like that, the Dolphins not only prevented the creation of another hole, but also instantly upgraded the safety position from a season ago.
And yet, some Dolphin fans still aren't satisfied. They would rather this front office be involved in every bidding war for every over-priced free agent than having them just sit back, wait to see hold the market unfolds, keep their cap space, and see what opportunities may present themselves further down the road. But that's not how this front office operates. They don't overspend on overvalued free agents. That's how you become the Washington Redskins.
These same Dolphin fans want to point to the cornerback position. They want to talk about how it would have only cost Miami $5 million per year to bring back the recently departed Andre Goodman. But let's be honest - he's not worth that kind of money. Sure - I like him and I appreciate all that he did for this football team last season. He provided memories that will last a lifetime. But that doesn't mean we should overlook the fact that he's going to be 31 years old before the season and has just one good season under his belt. That one good season should not translate into a 5 year contract that pays him an average of $3 million more per year than he made in 2008. After all, how many cornerbacks are in this league that are reliable corners worth $5 million per year at the age of 33? Sorry - but five years is just too long of a commitment.
And while some Dolphin fans will sit here and think that the Goodman situation was an example of this front office being stingy - I look at it as our front office being smart.
Building through the draft. That's what this front office believes in. And that's what everyone needs to accept. This will not be a franchise that simply throws money at their problems in hopes of solving them.
So deal with that - and trust the men who are captaining this ship. They know what they're doing.