In the aftermath of the brief Cam Cameron/Randy Mueller tenure, the Miami Dolphins (under the Bill Parcells/Jeff Ireland/Tony Sparano regime) have held fast to two basic rules:
1) No divas in the locker room.
2) Draft picks should be treated like gold.
One offseason move has obliterated "Dolphins Law."
First reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, soon-to-be former Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall will be packing his bags and returning to the sunny state of Florida (where he spent four seasons as a standout at the University of Central Florida) to immediately upgrade a position of need that has bothered the Dolphins even in the later years of the Dan Marino era. (Top Dolphins Receivers Since 2000)
The cost: The Dolphins' second round choice in this year's draft, as well as their second rounder in the 2011 draft. Rumors are also swirling around that the Dolphins have prepared a massive contract that would make Marshall the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL.
On the field, this is an absolute no-brainer for the Dolphins. Marshall has earned his nickname "Beast" with at least 100 catches and 1,000 yards receiving over the past three seasons.
Obviously, the deal comes with risks.
Marshall has well-documented domestic violence issues from his time in Denver. He has also been considered a bit of a malcontent by the Josh McDaniels regime in Denver, consistently frustrated with how the front office handled his contract situation.
While it can be speculated that some of the domestic charges could have been ex-girlfriend Rasheeda Watley attempting to extort money from Marshall (which would explain the repeated reconciliations and repeated charges), what IS clear is that Marshall does come with some emotional baggage.
One question needs to be asked: Can you name three top wide receivers in the NFL who aren't described as "divas"? (I'll spot you Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson.)
With those two obvious exceptions, the wide receiver position in the NFL needs to come with a swagger that screams, "I'm better than you and can make plays, so throw to me and only me." Without that swagger, you get Ted Ginn, Jr. (and his family, according to former head coach Cam Cameron).
It's a good policy to have for locker room harmony, but it shouldn't be taken literally as a be all, end all law.
As for the price in terms of draft picks, there is one thing that is true to every draft: It's a total crapshoot. Yes, Parcells and Ireland have done a terrific job using these picks to bring in talented players (Jake Long, Chad Henne, Vontae Davis, Kendall Langford, et al.).
However, no scouting department can hit on every pick and know for sure what they're getting in a player straight out of college (jury is still out on Phillip Merling, Pat White, Patrick Turner, etc.). There are too many factors (offensive schemes, strength of competition, etc.) to consider anyone a "sure thing."
In this day and age, draft picks in the first round all the way through the fourth round are expected to be immediate contributors to a franchise. What better way to ensure that those picks contribute than to use them on a proven veteran who upgrades your team immediately more than any pick would have?
While these two rules of the Miami Dolphins front office have been bent for the sake of infusing talent at a position that was in dire need of it, one policy will still hold come April 22: The Dolphins will most certainly NOT be drafting a wide receiver in the first round.
Whether it be because the Broncos, who pick ahead of the Dolphins, will take Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant, or because the Dolphins trade down in the first round in an attempt to recoup some draft picks later on, the Dolphins can now focus on other positions of need (safety, outside linebacker, defensive tackle) that scream for an infusion of youth.
And the Broncos? Here's hoping all these draft picks they've collected from trades of Marshall and Jay Cutler don't turn into thousands of fans chasing Josh McDaniels out of town with axes and torches.