To become a contender in the AFC East, the Miami Dolphins must add a quality quarterback they can trust to win games.
Chad Henne was supposed to be that guy for the Dolphins, but was replaced by backup Matt Moore because of injury and inefficiency in his play.
Moore proved himself as a more-than-serviceable backup, with more touchdowns than interceptions (16 touchdowns, 9 interceptions) and a decent completion percentage (60.1 percent). After starting the season 0-7, the Dolphins were able to finish strong, going 6-3 in their final nine games.
The problem is that even with Moore's efficient play, the team went 6-7 in his 13 appearances. This means that it is time again for the Dolphins to search for their quarterback of the future.
A draft class with plenty of quarterback talent and the free agent market is where the Dolphins must search for the quarterback they need. I've ranked the top five options the Dolphins should consider in reeling in a new starting quarterback.
This should be the least desirable option for Miami. While their playing styles may differ, Kyle Orton and Matt Moore are actually quite similar as far as quarterbacks go. Both have proven to be overachieving backups.
I don't believe that Orton or Moore can take the Dolphins to the Super Bowl, let alone win the AFC East, but adding Orton might spark a competitive battle, bringing out the best in both men.
Some players react well to adversity, and this may be a strategy the Dolphins use until they find the right quarterback for the future.
Along with Orton on the lower list of the free agent quarterbacks are guys like Jason Campbell, Alex Smith and David Garrard. If the Dolphins' inquiry into a better quarterback falls through, they will look at these quarterbacks to momentarily fill the void as their search continues.
An option of which Dolphins fans might not be in favor would be to use the same strategy they did when they drafted Chad Henne in the second round of the 2008 draft. Henne was able to sit behind Chad Pennington for a season before he had to prove himself as a starting quarterback.
You don't always hit home runs with a pick like this, but what are the chances Miami strikes out twice?
Kirk Cousins could also be taken in the second round, if not later on in the draft. This opens up room for the Dolphins to address other needs with their first-round pick, which could help the team as a whole.
Cousins was the Spartans' starting quarterback for three seasons and did a good job of controlling the football. In a run-first offense, Cousins did well by avoiding errors and making the big pass when it was needed.
With some seasoning, Cousins could become a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL. He finished his senior season with 25 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions, and completed 63.7 percent of his passes.
Before Peyton Manning joined the bunch, Matt Flynn was coveted as the best free agent quarterback available. The reason being his undeniable upside. Flynn differs from the other quarterbacks in that he has not yet gotten his chance to be a team's starting quarterback.
As LSU's quarterback in college, Flynn helped lead the team to win the 2008 BCS National Championship. In that game, Flynn rose to the occasion, completing 70.4 percent of his passes with four touchdowns to just one interception.
Flynn rose once again when the Packers decided to rest Aaron Rodgers for the season finale against the Detroit Lions. Both playoff teams, the Lions were fighting for positioning, but Flynn made the most of his opportunity.
He completed 31 of 44 passes for 480 yards and six touchdowns. The Dolphins need to give Flynn the opportunity available to him, and offer him the starting job. Signing Flynn would complete the offense so that they can focus on defense during the draft.
Tannehill's name has been rapidly moving up team's draft boards, and he will most likely get drafted within the first 12 picks. With the eighth pick in the draft, the Dolphins are in a good place to take Tannehill and make him their future franchise quarterback.
Tannehill has a lot of talent that the Dolphins would need to mold if they want to make him worthy of a first-round pick. Luckily for the Dolphins, the tools are there.
He has good size, a strong arm and great mobility. He could come into the league and hurt defenses next season.
The problem is that those defenses can hurt him right back. Tannehill demonstrated some questionable throws and made the wrong plays at times for Texas A&M. He threw for 3,744 yards and 29 touchdowns, and only 15 interceptions during his senior season.
If the Dolphins decide to take Tannehill with their first pick, they can be expected to go after some veteran free agents during the offseason.
If the Dolphins are able to sign Peyton Manning, it will be the first time they will have a real threatening quarterback since Dan Marino. While reports have stated that Manning is leaning towards Denver or Arizona, the Dolphins are still in the mix.
Manning would do more than complete this offense, he'd make it one of the league's best. Brandon Marshall would have no reason to complain, and no margin for error to drop passes. Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas would see more running room as defenses start to focus on attacking Manning.
Manning would make everyone around him better.
If Manning's old teammate and University of Miami alum Reggie Wayne decides to join him in Miami, the offense could be lethal.
The addition of Manning would also help the defense by taking pressure off of them, and would free the Dolphins to use the majority of their draft choices on shoring up the defensive unit.