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Thoughts on a busy opening weekend of NFL free agency

It was just a few nights ago when Dolphin fans everywhere were up late and scouring the internet for any bits of news related to who their team might have in for free agency visits. If you were here with us last Thursday night then you probably were one of the many who were up later than they should have been in hopes of finding any info about the Dolphins being interested in this player or that player.

We're now three full days removed from the beginning of free agency and a lot has happened. So I thought a great way to kick off the week would be to just share some quick thoughts on some of what has transpired over the last 72 hours, as well as touch on what still might happen as we inch closer to the NFL Draft.

Clark to visit Dolphins on Monday, expected to sign
The latest bit of free agency news to come our way is that Steelers safety Ryan Clark flew into Miami on Sunday night and will meet with the Dolphins on Monday. From everything we've heard already from Clark upon his arrival to Miami, it sure seems like it's highly likely that he will sign a contract with the Dolphins later on today, filling the void in Miami's secondary.

We'll talk more about this tomorrow if/when the Dolphins actually come to terms with Clark. But for now my initial reaction is simple - it'll be hard for him to play any worse than Gibril Wilson. He should come cheaper than Wilson. And this move would reduce the number of holes the Dolphins must fill in the draft. Could the Dolphins still draft a safety next month? Sure. But they would no longer need to. And when you can cut down the number of needs you have entering the draft, you can be much more flexible in how you approach each pick. So for these reasons alone, signing Clark would be a solid move.

But again, we'll talk more about Clark if the Dolphins do sign him. I already have an e-mail into the blogger of SBN's Steelers blog that could allow us to get a Steelers' fans perspective on Clark. So be sure to check in with us tomorrow for continuing coverage.

Dolphins now have a BIG void to fill
Part of the reason why I wasn't as stressed as some about the nose tackle situation of this team was because I felt like Jason Ferguson would eventually get back to being healthy and re-sign with the Dolphins. So I figured the combination of Ferguson and Paul Soliai could put together one more decent year before the Dolphins had to address this situation.

But that all changed late Saturday night when we learned that Ferguson would be suspended for the first eight games of the 2010 season following his second positive drug test for performance-enhancing drugs. Just like that, the Dolphins had to instantly add the nose tackle position to their rather long list of "must haves" for this offseason - joining free safety (which could be filled in a few hours), outside linebacker, and wide receiver.

The only possible option on the free agent market who I think could fill the role for at least one season is former Chargers NT Jamal Williams. Williams, who will be 34 in April, was released last week by San Diego and is coming off of a season in which he played just one game before tearing his triceps muscle and undergoing season-ending surgery. But reports are the 340+ pound nose tackle is nearing completion of his rehab and should be ready for OTAs. But it remains to be seen if the Dolphins will show any interest.

There are some possible nose tackles to be had in the draft as well. But it's always a risk to rely on a rookie nose tackle as a major contributor. Tennessee's Dan Williams, though, looks as though he could come right in and win the starting job from day one. He's got the perfect NT body, is strong at the point of attack, and seems to have good stamina - something he'd need in the South Florida heat. But using the 12th overall pick on a nose tackle is never a popular idea.

It'll be interesting to see how the Dolphins go about filling this critical position, that's for sure.

Did Dolphins make mistake passing on "Q"?
We're all well aware at how badly some of you wanted the Dolphins to acquire Anquan Boldin. But it was the Ravens who stepped up to the plate and offered up a 3rd and 4th round pick for Boldin. They then signed Anquan to an extension that will pay him $28 million over the next four seasons, with $10 million guaranteed. If you ask me, I believe the contract is the reason why the Dolphins were not in on the Boldin sweepstakes. Well - the money and the fact that Boldin, for as physical as he plays the game, will be 30 in October and has had trouble staying healthy for a full 16 games.

Boldin plays the receiver position like a running back. Because of that, he has the kind of wear and tear on him that a running back usually does by the time they reach 30 years of age. So I can see why Miami's front office was wary of giving him an average of $7 million per year while handing his former Arizona teammate almost $9 million per year. It was the money, in my opinion, not that draft pick compensation that kept "Q" from coming to Miami. And I agree with the decision.

But the Dolphins do need receiver help - we all know that. They could try to find their guy in the draft. Or they could show interest in free agent receiver Antonio Bryant. The Miami Herald's Greg Cote and agent Drew Rosenhaus both think the Dolphins do have some interest in Bryant. And though I'm not a fan of Bryant's at all, if the price is right, why the hell not?