Who would have thought we'd have so much to talk about on a Friday in late February - even before the NFL Scouting Combine really kicks into high gear. The on-field workouts don't begin until tomorrow - which is sure to provide us with a ton of material to discuss. But for now, we'll have to settle for general manager Jeff Ireland's media briefing yesterday and all of the day's news that followed.
I guess that'll do.
1. Ireland gives the softest public endorsement you can possibly give a player. That's the only way to describe how Ireland responded to questions about the team's starting quarterback situation. I know that we have no officially began the season of misinformation. I know that much of the things said and done by teams this time of the year is for the sole purpose of being a smokescreen. But still, when you have a young starting quarterback like Chad Henne - who clearly lost confidence in himself as the season progressed - I was expecting at least a slightly more positive endorsement yesterday from Ireland.
I was wrong.
When asked about the quarterback position, Ireland simply said, "For right now our starter is Chad Henne. Obviously he’s a player on our football team. We don’t have a lot of depth right now."
Ireland then went a little further a couple minutes later.
"He’s the guy on our football team that we have to be committed to because he’s the only one we have right now other than Tom Brandstater and potentially Thigpen. We’re committed to him right now, and that’s where we’re at."
2. Parcells has left the building. Well, alright, we knew this already. But now we have confirmation right from Ireland that Bill Parcells no longer has an official role with the team.
"We have a good relationship," said Ireland. "But he does not have a role with the Miami Dolphins."
It's time to see if Bill's little birdies can now fly on their own. And for some reason, my gut tells me these guys - Ireland and Tony Sparano - will do just fine without Bill's ego hanging around.
3. The more I think about the decision to use the franchise tag on Paul Soliai, the more uncomfortable I feel. My initial reaction was that tagging Soliai was a good move, regardless of the $12+ million he will be guaranteed in 2011. Then I saw this quote, with Paul's agent David Canter saying his client will sign the franchise tender "as soon as we can." That right there made me a little uneasy.
I know Canter has stressed that he's hopeful a long-term deal can get done because Soliai wants to remain a Dolphin. But where's the pressure on Soliai to get a new long-term deal done. The man was just handed more money in one year than somebody making a quarter of a million dollars annually would earn in his entire lifetime. Who is to say Soliai doesn't sign the tender and then slack off?
Just to make a comparison, consider this: Soliai will make more guaranteed money in 2011 than NT Casey Hampton was given in guarantees for his entire three year deal signed a year ago with Pittsburgh.
I just hope he proves to be worth it. If he plays like he did in 2010, he will be. But what if we get the 2009 version?
4. Jeremy Shockey really wants to join this team. He told Jeff Darlington yesterday that "it would be a dream to play for the Dolphins." And as Shockey points out, he played in NY with new Dolphins TE coach Dan Campbell. If healthy both physically and mentally, Shockey is the kind of tight end this team needs. If the dollars are right, why not sign the man?
5. Jeff Ireland needs to tread carefully at the Combine when interviewing these kids. "Well you got to get everything," responded Ireland to a question about evaluating a kid who has reportedly had troubles in his past. "You got to go back into his background. You got to talk to a lot of coaches. You got to talk to just about everybody you can and get as much information on a guy like that that you possibly can."
Ireland didn't mention if this includes investigating the prospect's mother and her rumored career choice.