Change is needed.
That is the general message gathered from looking at the Miami Dolphins' string of moves at wide receiver.
First, the cuts: Thus far, Roberto Wallace, B.J. Cunningham and Clyde Gates (per The Miami Herald) have handed in their playbooks and iPads.
Wallace's size (6'4", 225 pounds) was intriguing, but his nickname of "ankle weights" was revealed on Hard Knocks when a member of the Dolphins coaching staff was watching film of the wide receiver running sluggishly and unable to create separation.
Cunningham also had issues with speed and separation. But even when he had opportunities, he was dropping passes.
Gates, meanwhile, came to the team with the promise of delivering a deep threat, but he struggled to pick up the Dolphins playbook.
But the Dolphins didn't even have to get over the disappointment of those three receivers before they had already brought in three more receivers for workouts, including Donte' Stallworth, Mike Sims-Walker and Brian Tyms (per the Miami Herald).
Stallworth is most well-known in South Beach for his DUI manslaughter conviction in 2009. But despite this isolated incident, he is just the kind of high-character guy the Dolphins are looking for. As Ben Volin of The Palm Beach Post points out, "After returning to the NFL in 2010, the Ravens voted him their Ed Block Courage Award winner for coming back from his legal situation and from a broken foot suffered in training camp."
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick also said that Stallworth has "matured a lot" since he was with the team back in 2007. He added, "I think he's shown a lot more leadership, he's a very professional athlete—he really takes his job very seriously and acts in a very professional way."
Sounds like just the type of guy the Dolphins could use on their roster—and more specifically at wide receiver.
Sims-Walker had a great two years for the Jaguars from 2009-2010, hauling in 106 receptions for 1,431 yards and 14 touchdowns in 29 games. This is not the first flirtation between Sims-Walker and the Dolphins, although the last time came under former head coach Tony Sparano.
He could be a dynamic addition to the offense, but he may not be a fit with the Dolphins' high-character framework if he's complaining when the ball isn't thrown his way, even in victories. He has also had problems with drops in his career, which won't help solve an issue that already plagues the Dolphins at wide receiver.
The Dolphins have even been linked to trade rumors (per the Sun-Sentinel) involving Packers wide receiver James Jones, who is intimately familiar with Philbin's offense from the time the two shared together in Green Bay.
Jones has been a reliable third option in the Packers offense, and he cleaned up his case of the dropsies last year with fewer drops (six) than touchdown catches (seven). Still, he has the second-highest drop rate of any receiver in the league over the past three years (per Pro Football Focus).
And even with all the noise at wide receiver, the Dolphins are far from done:
The Dolphins PRESENTLY have six receivers....Marlon Moore, Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee, Chris Hogan, Brian Hartline and Rishard Matthews.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) August 31, 2012
They probably won't carry six receivers into the season, and even if they do, it won't likely be those six receivers if these workouts and trade rumors are any indication. The coaching staff should be taking a long look at Legedu Naanee's status on the team, given his egregious drops this preseason.
But no matter who is left standing on that list by tonight, the Dolphins may have different plans by the time Week 1 rolls around.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
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