"It may not be unique and you may have predicted the answer as soon as you read the headline, but it's nearly impossible to argue that any free agent will have a greater impact in 2013 than Mike Wallace."
With all due respect to a great writer, I think I can argue this one.
While the Mike Wallace signing will have a tremendous impact on Miami's offense, the free-agent signing with the biggest impact was actually former Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes, whom the Dolphins signed to a one-year, $5.5 million contract on Saturday.
Grimes, who will be 30 at the start of the season, immediately becomes Miami's best cornerback, which he likely would've been even if the Dolphins retained Sean Smith. He's the perfect fit for Miami's defense due to his playmaking abilities, as he recorded 195 tackles and 13 interceptions in his first six years in the NFL.
The only reason Grimes was available for such little money and commitment for Miami was due to a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in Week 1 of last season. However, Grimes has stated that he has no physical restrictions from the torn tendon and is focusing on building strength, per NFL.com.
The main reason I have for Grimes being the free agent that will have the most impact for the Dolphins is not only the position he plays, but also how strong the position is in the draft in terms of guys who could start right away.
Right now, that list is down to Dee Milliner, Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Trufant. Milliner likely won't be available for Miami with the No. 12 pick, which is why I suggested trading up for him. Rhodes doesn't fit Miami's defensive scheme as he's more of a press corner similar to Sean Smith, while with Trufant, despite the fact that he's a great zone cornerback, might not be ready to make the leap to being the top corner on a team just yet.
Grimes provides the Dolphins with leadership to help groom whomever they choose to draft.
The Dolphins will need to draft two cornerbacks in this year's draft, not only to replace Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, but also to eventually fill the roles of Grimes and Richard Marshall, who, as of right now, would be Miami's other starting corner. Grimes' leadership will be key to helping whatever players they draft develop, and can also have a positive effect on cornerback Nolan Carroll, who will likely only be used as a nickleback next season.
As for Grimes' playmaking abilities, he's at his best tracking down passes while they're in the air, a skill that has seemed to elude Dolphins corners in the past few years. While he's not very physical, his athleticism makes up for it. If he's at least at 85 percent of where he was prior to his injury, he will give Miami a playmaker in the defensive backfield they haven't had in quite a while.
Grimes also has shown himself to be one of the best corners in the NFL prior to his injury. In 2010 he was named to the Pro Bowl, and in 2011 Pro Football Focus had Grimes ranked as the third best corner in the NFL behind Darrelle Revis and Cortland Finnegan.
That season, quarterbacks had only a 62.9 rating when throwing towards Grimes, completing just 44.6 percent of the passes thrown against him (25 of 56) for a 10.3 average yards per completion, allowing only two touchdowns and 258 receiving yards.
The reason for his low interception rate has been because were teams throwing away from Grimes, who had been Atlanta's best corner and who had been taking on the best wide receiver on each team every week.
That will be Grimes' responsibility for the Dolphins, who at least play in a division that is bereft of elite wide receivers at this time. Even the mighty New England Patriots have question marks at the wide receiver position going into 2013 with the departure of Wes Welker.
Secondary was perhaps the weakest of Miami's weak spots both before and after the free agency frenzy.
The level that Grimes improved the secondary is far and away greater than how Wallace improved the wide receiving corps, and while Wallace will provide Miami with electrifying plays and ignite an offense, Grimes will turn an atrocious secondary into a decent one that can match an already very good (and possibly elite) front seven.
Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/sports-buzz/2013/03/media-column-marlins-announcers-face-cFollow @thomasgalicia
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