Previously, I have discussed an overall view of top free agent targets and most recently, I discussed free agent targets at QB. We already know that debate will go on well into March. Being that RB isn't on the wishlist, I have decided to forego that position and get right into the WRs. Depending on who you speak to, the WR may or may not have to be addressed in the offseason.
Personally, I believe Brian Hartline is an average #2 WR. I don't think he's great, but he is consistent and I do believe he's better than some give him credit for. Others think Clyde Gates may be ready to challenge him for a starting position. Based on what I've seen of Gates so far, as much as I would love that to happen, I'm not sure he's ready. I don't believe WR is a huge need for the team, but I also wouldn't be opposed to some acquisitions in that department. There are plenty of free agent WRs available, but some will resign prior to free agency and some others may receive the franchise tag. Let's get started and take a look at some of the free agents and who I believe could make good targets.
Wes Welker (NE): He is a former Dolphin player and many would love to have him back. Not only is he unlikely to return to Miami, but I don't feel he's exactly what we need. We have Davone Bess in the middle and while I have no doubt that Welker would be a good WR for us, I think we're better off not only looking for cheaper options, but at other options that bring more of a vertical threat.
Vincent Jackson (SD): He's got everything you would look for in a WR. His future in San Diego is murky as the two sides have yet to begin contract negotiations for 2012, but Jackson may not return because of previous injuries and his poor relationship with team management. Describing Jackson's relationship with San Diego's front office as rocky would be speaking kindly of the situation. While Jackson may be arguably the best WR available, he also may be the most expensive WR available as well. It's not that I wouldn't love to have him, but I think our money is spent elsewhere.
DeSean Jackson (Phi): Like Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson has been going through a rocky relationship with Philly, but he did say in December that he'd like to go back to the Eagles and that he wouldn't be opposed to receiving the franchise tag. The only thing is now, would the Eagles want to franchise him? The rift between DJax and Philly is not as bad as VJax and SD though. Reid has always defended Jackson and I dont' think they'll split... yet. Beyond that, Jackson would be very expensive as well.
Marques Colston (NO): A sure-handed WR and more physical than he appears, Colston does a good job of creating seperation, but that is more because of great route running than top end speed. Because of his route running, I'd still think he would compliment Marshall pretty well more than some of the other WRs that lack top speed. The only problem with Colston is that he will likely be too expensive for my liking.
Stevie Johnson (Buf): A diva WR in Buffalo, but would bring the skills we'd want to see in Miami if he was pursued. Unfortunately, a combination of Brandon Marshall and Johnson in Miami could be too volatile as both are considered diva WRs. Johnson seems like a younger version of Chad Ochocinco. You take the good with the bad. He won't be as expensive as the Jacksons, but his salary demands may still be too high for my liking.
Dwayne Bowe (KC): A big WR with hands, he has emerged as a #1 WR and even though his numbers dropped, KC will certainly try to keep him, even if it means the franchise tag. Like the rest, Bowe would be expensive. On top of that, I believe he's too much like Marshall and I think we need to find more speed to compliment Marshall instead of finding a clone of him.
Mario Manningham (NYG): If I were to make a tiers of the WR position I would put Welker, Colston, and both Jacksons in tier 1 for the top WR free agents. Bowe and Johnson would be placed in tier 2. Manningham would be in tier 3. He's not as gifted as the others, but he has the skills Miami could use. He's only 6'0, but he has speed and can make big plays. He also has the knack for turning 10 yard receptions into big plays with his shiftiness when the ball in his hands. His production slipped this year due to injuries and the emergence of Victor Cruz, but Manningham can bring several years of productivity to any team. The benefit with Manningham is that he would cost less to sign that the above free agents and would leave Miami with enough cap space to fill bigger holes.
Robert Meachem (NO): He's a favorite target for many Dolphin fans because he can be signed relatively cheap and brings very good speed to Miami's offense. Like Manningham, Meachem would fit in tier 3 of free agent WRs, but would bring a good skill set to compliment Marshall and Davone Bess. At 6'2, he's not one of the tallest WRs, but he has also made himself to be a solid red zone target. Fans in Miami know very well they can use another red zone option to help improve Miami's red zone efficiency. He would be another solid free agent target for the Dolphins.
Other Notable Free Agent WRs: Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Jerome Simpson, Brandon Lloyd, Andre Caldwell, Roy Williams, Braylon Edwards, Ted Ginn, Mike Sims-Walker, Donnie Avery, Plaxico Burress, and Eddie Royal.