10 Last-Minute Free Agents the Miami Dolphins Should Sign
Miami's preseason is now over, and at 0-4 the best we can say about the Dolphins is that they are a work in progress.
All seems well with the first-team defense, who got off to a rocky start in their first two games yet recovered well in the limited action they saw in the last two games—and this was without defensive mainstays at linebacker in Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby.
Special teams seem to be in good shape too, and could send two players to the Pro Bowl in kicker Dan Carpenter and punter Brandon Fields.
But the offense and secondary are trouble spots for Miami.
With rookie starter Ryan Tannehill, Miami has a development project, but one that must be seen until the very end. Their running back situation is one of the best in the NFL as well with the three-headed monster of Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller. Steve Slaton is another good piece in the backfield.
Miami is also solid at left tackle, left guard and center with Jake Long, Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey. Their right side is a project right now with John Jerry and Artis Hicks splitting time at right guard and rookie Jonathan Martin playing right tackle.
The receivers and tight ends? Well, that's a whole different story.
Miami had as many as 10 receivers on the roster at one point this preseason, and they will have to shorten it to five. Odds are though Miami will be looking for more help with wide receivers. Anthony Fasano and Charles Clay look ready as starting tight ends, but both have questions surrounding them.
Then back on defense you have Miami's secondary—one that only got weaker with the trade of Vontae Davis last week.
But while many Dolphins will lose their jobs this weekend, other players on other teams will become available, while some teams will look to make trades as well. Here's a look at 10 free agents and players who could be free agents that the Miami Dolphins should take a look at and consider picking up.
Former St. Louis Ram Danario Alexander has potential galore. At 6'5" and 217 pounds, Alexander has the strength to possibly be a Brandon Marshall-type receiver.
However, injuries kept Alexander from being drafted in 2010. He would be signed as an undrafted free agent by the Rams that year, and in his debut on October 17, 2010 would make four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Alexander would end 2010 with 20 catches for 306 yards.
2011 saw Alexander grab 26 receptions for 431 yards and two touchdowns, however, a hamstring injury, which kept him out of most of training camp and the preseason, would lead to his release by the Rams.
Alexander's shaky injury history might be a risk, but it could reward Miami with some much needed big plays. The Dolphins should at the very least do their due diligence and bring him in for a workout since he would help them where help is needed the most (and won't make too much of a dent on their cap numbers, either).
One thing that could be said about the former Gator Jabar Gaffney is that he's safe.
Will he be spectacular? No. Is he a game-breaker? Not really. But he can catch, and his numbers back this up.
In 10 seasons with Houston, Washington, Denver and New England, Gaffney has amassed 443 receptions for 5,622 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has also proven to be durable, only missing five games throughout his career (all in 2006 with New England, and only because he didn't sign until Week 6).
He is a journeyman, playing for four teams including two stops with the Patriots, but he would be a good experienced veteran to have in the locker room. He would also be an effective wideout on a team that as of right now only has two.
Diondre Borel is a Miami Dolphins possibility, but the same could be said about four Green Bay Packers receivers via trade or release.
Borel finished preseason with the Packers grabbing seven receptions for 48 yards while mainly relegated to second and third-team duty.
Borel is very fast, but his size does worry me a bit. He's listed at 6'0 199 lbs, but the former quarterback from Utah State does look a tad shorter on film. However he has been one of the darlings of the Packers off-season and will get attention from many teams around the NFL looking for a wide receiver.
The Dolphins will most likely be one of those teams.
The Green Bay Packers have a plethora of quality receivers, and that means some of them will not be Green Bay Packers come this weekend. One of those players could be former South Carolina Gamecock Tori Gurley.
At 6'4 232 he fits the Brandon Marshall-mold of being a bigger wide receiver, height that the Dolphins could easily use.
Gurley didn't see much playing time in his first season with the Packers, but in college he had 75 receptions for 905 yards and six touchdowns in his two seasons at South Carolina.
Gurley also has the benefit of already working with Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin (something some of the other Green Bay receivers haven't done), which means that if Philbin thinks highly of him, he could already get on the field come Week 1—something that couldn't happen in Green Bay.
According to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette, Green Bay has officially released Tori Gurley. In Gurley's final preseason game with the Packers, he caught two passes for 69 yards, with one of those receptions going for 54 yards. For the preseason Gurley would end up with three catches for 75 yards. Miami is looked at as a possible destination for Gurley.
Tommy Streeter had heard talk that doubted his decision to forgo his senior season with the Hurricanes to jump to the NFL since the day he made that fateful decision.
It only grew worse when he slipped to the sixth round before being taken by the Baltimore Ravens, and now with his inconsistent play in Baltimore this preseason, he could really wind up regretting it as he's considered to be on the Ravens' roster bubble.
If he is released by Baltimore, though, the Dolphins could find value in picking him up. He ran a 4.4 40-yard dash during the combine and led the 'Canes in receptions last season with 46 receptions, which lead to 811 yards and eight touchdowns. Even though he slipped to the sixth round, he was projected as high as Round 2.
His issues that could leave him off the Ravens' final 53 have had to do with problems running routes. While this could be an issue in a West Coast Offense, he would be at the very least Miami's best deep-route receiver as well as a possible player returning kicks on special teams.
In fact, despite his struggles thus far with the Ravens, Touchdown Tommy would still likely be at worst Miami's fourth best wide receiver.
Leaving Miami might have been a mistake for Streeter this year, but coming back to Miami by being picked up by the Dolphins could not only atone for the mistake, but give Tannehill a better target as well.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Tommy Streeter will remain a Baltimore Raven. However Streeter has been placed on injured reserve with a sprained left foot.
If there's one player who's career I could say was a major disappointment to me, it's that of Vince Young.
Did I think I'd ever see the day where the Buffalo Bills would release him? No. Did I ever think that if he was available there would be Dolphins fans against signing him? No.
But I'm sure there are and for good reason—despite a promising start to his career, he has fallen flat since being released by the Titans.
Yet despite this, I still think Miami should sign him.
Ryan Tannehill is Miami's starting quarterback. On top of that, the Dolphins must remain committed to him for the whole season. If he struggles in the first six games, they have to keep him in. No use bringing in a backup that would only shake his confidence.
But after Tannehill, I'm not too sold on Miami's quarterbacks. Matt Moore was good last season; however, let's not overrate him the way many have—he went 6-6.
But remember, that was under a different offense. How has he done under the West Coast Offense? Not too well as you have seen in this preseason—and remember he's played with both the starters (Week 1 against Tampa Bay) and the reserves.
Then there's the question of David Garrard, who's still out with his knee injury. Garrard is most likely the final quarterback out, according to the Palm Beach Post.
I'm a Pat Devlin fan, but he's better served for now further developing on the practice squad.
This brings us to Vince Young.
Now again, Tannehill is the starter, and should be unless he gets hurt. But what if he does get hurt? Young would likely perform better than Moore. Young is used to running a West Coast Offense, which he had to run in Philadelphia last season when he started three games. He did go 1-2 and throw five more interceptions than touchdowns; however, this has been the exception in Young's career, not the norm.
Young attempted to make a comeback with the Buffalo Bills this season, but a poor preseason followed by the Bills trading for former Seahawk Tarvaris Jackson meant that Young's time in Buffalo would be short.
A second chance in Miami for Young would be a good gamble for the Dolphins to take. Young still has the talent to redeem himself, and he has already shown in the past that he could win in this league.
Before you start panicking Dolphins fans, there will likely be no room on the roster for a Vince Young. For now it looks like Miami will keep David Garrard per Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. Move along to the next slide.
Cornerback Cliff Harris left Oregon under controversial circumstances and would wind up going undrafted before being signed by the Philadelphia Eagles prior to training camp.
He did some good things. [Tuesday] he learned a couple lessons down in the red zone. We ran the same route against him today and he broke it up. That’s a good sign that he could learn from his mistakes.
However, despite a good training camp and good appearances during the preseason for the Eagles, Harris finds himself looking for a team. Reid told the Philadelphia Inquirer that it was "a numbers thing" and that Harris was "one of the tough ones that we had to let go."
In Miami the search for cornerback is mainly "a numbers thing", but instead of the number of talented cornerbacks being high like the Eagles feel their number is, instead it's too low. Harris would add depth to a position that sorely needs it. Harris was a 2010 consensus All-American. He recorded 61 tackles and eight interceptions—one he returned for a touchdown—in his three seasons at Oregon.
He was also Oregon's punt and kickoff return man, scoring four touchdowns his sophomore All-American season.
Had he not had his discipline troubles (mainly minor offenses like speeding tickets, underage drinking and possession of marijuana), Harris likely would've gone in the third or fourth round of the draft.
With the amount of talent Harris has and the lack of talent Miami has in the secondary, plus Harris' work ethic since leaving school, Miami would be fools to not give him a shot at the NFL. Odds are had the Eagles had one more slot in the secondary to be filled, he'd still be in Philadelphia.
Terrence Frederick is currently on the Steelers' roster bubble, but with the depth Pittsburgh contains in their secondary, he could find himself on the outside looking in.
Frederick has played nickleback this preseason with the Steelers, but with Cortez Allen ahead of him on the depth chart, he hasn't seen very much time on the field.
Had he gone to the Dolphins this preseason, he would've been on the field plenty of times, and likely would've been better than Quinten Lawrence. Lawrence started off training camp decent enough to give Miami the confidence to deal Vontae Davis but was lit up against the Cowboys.
Frederick, like Cliff Harris, will likely go only because of too many numbers. These are the types of players Miami should be looking at off of the waiver-wire this weekend.
I'm shocked that an effective offensive lineman who's only 31 years old and has started all 16 games in each of the last seven seasons (and started nine in his rookie season) still hasn't found a home.
Jake Scott is the best offensive lineman on the free agent market, and unless the Steelers accidentally release Maurkice Pouncey, he'd be the best option for Miami to add on the offensive line.
Scott has played right guard for his entire career. That's funny—our right guards are Artis Hicks and John Jerry. Are those two really that much better than Scott at this point in time? They didn't really look like it during the preseason (and Scott didn't have a preseason because he's still unsigned).
Miami brought in Eric Steinbach (before he retired) before signing Scott. That was a mistake. Letting him sit on the free agent market would be an even bigger mistake. Scott can still produce, and Miami should jump at the chance to fortify their line by signing him.
On Thursday, the Dolphins worked out former Patriots wide receiver Donte Stallworth and former Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, according to The Palm Beach Post.
While Stallworth wouldn't be too good of an idea due mainly to his age, Sims-Walker is very intriguing.
Since being drafted in 2007, Sims-Walker has 134 receptions for 1,798 yards and 14 touchdowns. Injuries were a problem for Sims-Walker last season, which ended him on injured reserve after stints with the Rams and Jaguars.
But at 27 Sims-Walker still has youth on his side, and despite an injury-plagued 2011, he could contribute to a receiver-needy team like Miami in 2012. Already he'd be Miami's second-best receiver.
This is somewhat cheating because James Jones likely won't be released but instead traded, and that's if he leaves Green Bay at all.
The Sun-Sentinel has already reported that there's interest from Miami—it's just a matter of how much Green Bay will ask. As of right now Miami has 10 draft picks in 2013, including the potential for five in the top-75 with a second-round pick from Indianapolis and a third-rounder from Chicago acquired in exchange for Vontae Davis and Brandon Marshall respectively.
None of those picks should be used by Miami to acquire James, but cushion the blow from trading a fourth or fifth-rounder for the Green Bay-reserve—one who would start for Miami come opening day.
Jones already has 187 receptions for 2,704 yards and 20 touchdowns in a six-year career spent mainly as a third or fourth receiver. These numbers would help Miami's offense and help Tannehill's development. Plus at 28, he's still young enough to be a part of Miami's nucleus for the next five years.
If Miami can get this trade done for a reasonable price, then do it. He's not worth a first or second-rounder, and maybe a third-round pick is a bit too expensive. But if the lowest Miami can pay is a third-round pick, it's one they should consider.