2011 NFL Rumors: Miami Dolphins Off-Season Wish List
Oshiomogho Atogwe. Bob Sanders. Plaxico Burress. All have been linked to Miami in some way, shape or form in the last 24 hours. This can only mean one thing:
Welcome to the off-season rumor mill!
The favorite time of year for Phins Phans (maybe next year that time becomes the time when Miami is winning again) is how to make next season unlike last season. Growing up, I never had that problem. Sure, I was rooting for Miami to get Tony Martin or Irving Fryar as the next Dan Marino target. But what I enjoyed most was the season. It's been hard to say that lately.
Maybe this off-season can change all of that.
Miami fans have seen how one move can make a 10-win swing (Chad Pennington). Having stable play out of the quarterback position is critical. And this Miami regime must decide if it wants to hang its last chances on one more year of Henne (who will be as motivated as ever, since he's in the last year of his rookie contract), or trade for a high-impact veteran, or move up to get one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft.
That being said, Miami needs to add explosiveness to the offense. And it can be done in one off-season. Here are five moves Miami can make to return to the playoffs in 2012.
1) Sign Plaxico Burress or Santonio Holmes
Many Miami fans will hold Burress dear to their hearts for helping ruin the undefeated season of New England just a few years ago. It almost was worth enduring a 1-15 season just to see that look on Bill Belicheck's face at the end of that Super Bowl.
Burress can bring about many more smiles.
At 6'5" and 232 lbs, Burress is the physical type of receiver Miami likes. In 2007, Burress had 10 catches of 20 yards or more. And that was in a run-oriented offense. Burress can add the big-play ability Miami lacks, and take some of the weight off of Brandon Marshall's shoulders.
But of course there's that whole jail thing.
Yes, it's hard to know what Burress has left. And he's a risk. He'll be one for the rest of his playing days, just like Michael Vick. But also like Vick, he could be ready to move on with his life. And that picture could include Miami.
It isn't like Miami hasn't done this before. In the glory days of Dan Marino, Miami signed Tony Martin after he was not convicted of a trial that nearly sent him to prison. Yes, you could argue that Martin was acquitted and Burress was not. But Miami has rolled the dice on a 'baggage' player before. And with the money that Burress will not require (mainly an incentives-based contract), he represents a low-risk, high-reward player.
Miami could always go the safer, more proven route and try to bring home Santonio Holmes. But that contract with come with plenty more zeros than what it would take to land Burress.
Here's hoping Miami rolls the dice on Burress on a cheap one-year deal, with a club option for 2013.
2) Sign LG Robert Gallery To Add Some Beef and Running Room To Offensive Line
Big man. Very big man. Oakland guard Robert Gallery may have been a bust as a left tackle, but sliding inside has done him wonders. Since 2007, Gallery has emerged into a top-tier left guard. While he may not be best at phone booth-type blocking (drive blocking), he's an excellent pull guard.
This is exactly what Miami needs. If the Dolphins resign Richie Incognito and move him to center, Gallery might be the best option to slide into LG. Now that the New England Patriots have put the franchise tag on Logan Mankins, Gallery might represent Miami's next best option.
Sliding Incognito to center and signing Gallery could be exactly what the Dolphins' interior line needs. Depending upon what they decide with Henne, Miami could use its first round pick on a RT and move Vernon Carey to RG. But I think they are better off using what they have at RG, and maximizing talent and salary on Carey as a RT.
3) Sign OJ Atogwe To Be Their Ball-Hawking Free Safety
The Dolphins' defense made huge strides under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's scheme. While they have a talented young safety they can continue to develop in Chris Clemons, sometimes other situations come up that are worth considering.
Consider OJ Atogwe to be one of these such situations.
The former Pro Bowl free safety has been a free agent for 72 hours now, and there appears to be a strong market for his services. Depending upon cost, Miami should be in the bidding. If Miami is willing to roll the dice on Plaxico Burress, they can use the cost-savings of not spending big on a WR and put it into Atogwe.
Atogwe could be the final piece towards having a championship-caliber defense in 2012.
4) Sign DeAngelo Williams or Ahmad Bradshaw to Be Your New Feature Back
I'm a big fan of Oakland's Michael Bush, who should be a restricted free agent once the new collective bargaining agreement gets signed. Unfortunately he'll probably come with a first-round tender, as Darren McFadden's understudy quietly had a great season. He's a Michael Turner-kind of candidate, who spent a few years as LaDainian Tomlinson's back-up before emerging in Atlanta. But I digress.
The best two options in this year's free agent market are former Carolina standout DeAngelo Williams and New York Giants speedster Ahmad Bradshaw. Both come with their flaws. Williams is an injury risk, only playing in six games in 2010 due to injury. Bradshaw has ball-handling problems, fumbling seven times last season. Both would, however, add some major explosion to Miami's running game and could be a quarterback's best friend.
Williams has a 1,500-yard season under his belt and is only 27. Bradshaw is only going into year two as a full-time starter, and at age 24, has his best seasons in front of him. Neither one is likely to get the franchise tag placed on them.
Either one would look great in aqua and orange. Just as long as Miami can add one of them.
5) Trade Up For Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton, or Trade For Kevin Kolb
At some point Miami needs to have conviction on a player. A guy you are willing to take a risk on and are willing to do what it takes to get him. And if you are going to put your chips on one player, it better be a quarterback.
Miami tried doing so with Ricky Williams, essentially trading two first-round picks to acquire some of his best seasons. But all they did was waste his talent and burn him out.
Miami rolled the dice on Brandon Marshall, signed him to a big-money deal and traded picks to get him last off-season. But without a reliable quarterback to throw to him, defenses focused on him and were able to contain him.
It's time to take a chance on a quarterback.
Maybe it's with Newton or Gabbert. But if you want them, you are going to have to trade up to get them. Miami hates trading its picks. But once in a while it's worth the risk if the reward is great enough.
Green Bay traded back into the first round to get a young linebacker to anchor their 3-4 defense. His name is Clay Matthews. The New York Jets traded up to get a quarterback to be their "Sanchise." So far, so good for Mark Sanchez and the Jets.
Busts can happen. But they can happen when you stand still as well. Miami is hoping Jared Odrick's wasted season (and wasted first round pick) can pay dividends in year two, with a clean bill of health.
Is Kevin Kolb the answer? Can he excel outside of a West Coast offense? Make the decision. Find your guy. And go get him.
And maybe Miami fans will have something to look forward to in 2012.