The NFL wide receiver free-agent market is headlined by big names like Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings and Wes Welker. These players are the established wide receiver talents of the NFL and will haul in a big pay day when they strike a deal.
There is, however, another wide receiver of value a little further down the list.
Hartline is coming off a career season that he spent with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He went for 74 catches for 1,083 yards, both of which were career highs.
An issue of concern is Hartline's lone touchdown reception, but that is due in large part to Tannehill's ineffectiveness in the red zone and Hartline being the No. 1 receiving target, garnering all of the attention from opposing secondaries.
Realistically, Hartline is a very good No. 2 receiver. The Dolphins played Hartline as its No. 1 passing option on a team who many considered to have the worst receiving corps in the league.
Assuming Hartline leaves Miami, he will fill the role of a No. 2 wide receiver and have great success on another team. He has expressed interest in staying with Miami, but his situation with the Dolphins is in doubt.
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, "Pending free agent Brian Hartline, a No. 2 receiver, will be looking for $5-$6 million per year on the open market if he gets there."
While $5-$6 million per year is not a ludicrous contract, the Dolphins may not want to shell out that kind of money because they want to spend it elsewhere. Miami is looking for a No. 1 receiver and wants to use its expendable funds for that purpose. Hartline is not a true first option.
According to Dylan DeSimone of SBNation, "The Dolphins may pay him, but mind you, they are expected to look for a true No. 1 for Tannehill this offseason. Miami shouldn't let Hartline's contract situation affect who they pursue in free agency."
Hartline's career year can be looked at as nothing short of impressive. Having put up those numbers with a rookie quarterback while playing in the difficult, unfamiliar role of a No. 1 receiver, he is going to spark some interest from other teams if he tests the market.
Any team that needs a solid slot receiver with good hands, or an efficient, go-to No. 2 target should take a long look at Hartline. The 26-year-old has the potential and confidence to put up big numbers again, no matter where he winds up playing in the fall.
He told Salguero in an interview, "I went for 1,000 yards. And people ask, ‘Can he do it again?’” Hartline answered, “Sure. I can do it again. If I get those opportunities, I’ll do it again. I will make the plays.”
Miami may dish out the money to Hartline, in which he will be a steal assuming the Dolphins also bring in another wide receiver, such as Jennings or Wallace, who can fill the No. 1 role.
But, if Hartline leaves Miami, the team that acquires him will be getting a productive, determined receiver—and a huge steal.