One of these days, the players and owners will set their unbelievably presumptuous egos aside, sit down at a table, and crank out a new collective bargaining agreement. When this happens, the free agency floodgates will open, and the Miami Dolphins will scramble to round up a crop of free agents.
However, this pool of free agents might not provide Miami with an ample opportunity to fill all of their holes—particularly quarterback. Instead, the Dolphins might have to scour the trade market in order to completely replenish the roster.
The crown jewel of this year's trade market—the holy grail, if you will. Carson Palmer would immediately make the Dolphins a Super Bowl contender, but his status with the Bengals is stickier than a jar of caramel (or is it carmel?).
Even though Palmer's play has been in straight decline since he suffered a devastating ACL tear in 2005, he is the best potential solution to Miami's quarterback woes. Palmer is only 31, and showed that he still has Pro Bowl caliber play left during the tail end of the 2010 season.
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear as though Cincinnati is willing to trade him, and even if Mike Brown caves in, Palmer's price tag might be too high for Miami's liking.
Perhaps the most feasible and favorable quarterback option for the 'Fins is Kyle Orton. The Broncos would surely demand a smaller price tag than the Bengals may for Carson Palmer, so Miami would only have to part with (probably) a few middle round draft picks.
Granted, Orton has never been as productive as Palmer, he does have some pre-existing chemistry with Brandon Marshall.
But Orton's situation is similar to Palmer's. Since John Elway joined the Broncos staff as their new V.P. of Football Operations (same position Bill Parcells had with the Dolphins), a trade seems increasingly unlikely. Elway publicly questioned Tebow's football maturation, so parting with Orton ultimately makes no sense for Denver.
Donovan McNabb is 34 and just struggled through the worst season of his career, but do not disregard him. He might be the Dolphins best option.
Everybody loves to hate McNabb, but remember that he literally had no weapons at his disposal last year. The Redskins offense may have been the worst in the league. He was forced to rely on the likes of Anthony Armstrong and the league's 30th ranked rushing attack to produce, yet he was cast as a scapegoat when the 'Skins began to collapse. Keep in mind, McNabb threw for over 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns just two years ago.
Washington has made their desire to unload McNabb public. So, if he costs a fourth or fifth round pick, the Dolphins should make a move. Bringing in McNabb at such a bargain price outweighs placing complete trust in Chad Henne or an untested rookie.
There are a few traits that bond the NFL's elite offenses, and one of them is the presence of an athletic, sure-handed tight end. Martellus Bennett might not be sure-handed, but he is athletic, and he has become lost in the Cowboys' offensive shuffle.
Miami has essentially neglected the position since Don Shula's departure in 1995. Naturally, this is a primary need headed into the free agency period.
Dallas drafted Bennett with a second round selection in 2008, so while he wasn't around with Sparano and Ireland, he fills a gaping hole on the roster and would likely come at a relatively modest price.
Think about the Patriots, Colts, Packers, Chargers, Bears, Falcons, Steelers and and so on. They all pack at least one dangerous tight end in their offensive arsenal and they have all reaped the benefits of investing either high draft picks or time into the position. It's time for the Dolphins to do the same.
Popular consensus around Miami wants the Dolphins to target either DeAngelo Williams or Darren Sproles in free agency; however, there's no guarantee the team will be able to grab either. Both are hot commodities and will be hotly pursued.
If the 'Fins fail to grab one of those two, they should have a contingency plan in place, and one low-risk option would be a trade for Steve Slaton. The former rookie of the year candidate has inexplicably declined over the last two seasons, and the emergence of Arian Foster coupled with the return of Ben Tate makes Slaton expendable.
Slaton specializes as a third down back which is exactly what Miami needs. He is still loaded with potential and a change of scenery might be all he needs to rekindle his rookie form.
After the New Orleans Saints traded up to draft Mark Ingram, Reggie Bush infamously tweeted, "It's been fun New Orleans." The team has since denied any plans to parting with Bush, but with Chris Ivory, Pierre Thomas, and Mark Ingram on the roster, the former Heisman Trophy winner might become expendable.
The Saints can choose to decline Bush's contract option for 2011, which would force the team to pay their situational back a whopping $11 million. Or, they could investigate trade suitors. Miami could come calling considering he fills a need, and would likely draw the attraction of owner Stephen Ross and his celebrity obsessions.
Once training camp commences, John Jerry and Nate Garner are expected to battle for the starting right guard job. However, neither have exactly stood out as stud players, and Miami might look to the open market for an upgrade.
One option might be Dallas Cowboy Leonard Davis. Miami should be able to swing a trade for the offensive guard whose time in Dallas appears to be coming to a close.
Davis played under Sparano during his days as the team's offensive line coach, so that alone makes him a natural target for Miami. The Dolphins have scooped as many Cowboy castoffs as possible over the past few seasons, including lineman Pat McQuistan and Joe Berger. Expect them to do the same for Davis.
Naturally, Flynn has since become trade bait talk even though his sample size is minute. He has played a significant role in just one game throughout his three year career, and did so with the aid of the NFL's deadliest offense.
Still, Flynn obviously has tremendous upside, so if his price tag isn't absurdly high, a team like the Dolphins would be wise to inquire. At the very least, Flynn could provide competition for Henne and make for a much more promising long term project.
At the beginning of the 2010 season, Dennis Dixon beat out veterans Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich for the right to serve as Big Ben's temporary replacement. Dixon was hardly spectacular, but he did lead the Steelers to a Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Although he is yet to prove he can be an effective full-time starter, Dixon has performed quite well in the handful of games he has played in. His durability is also another red flag (torn ACL while a senior at Oregon; injured in Week 2 last season), but assuming the Steelers don't place an outlandish tender on him, Miami might only have to surrender a low-value draft pick for the mobile QB.
Dixon would provide a completely different breed of quarterback than Chad Henne, and that might be a positive. It's time for the Dolphins to stray from their uber-conservative methods and mix up their formula. And if Dixon only costs a middle to low round draft pick, what is there to lose?
The Miami Dolphins-Dallas Cowboys connection is well documented, publicized, and predictable. Basically, if Miami has a need and a Cowboy hits the market, Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland lunge at the chance to grab a former player.
The Cowboys decision to draft Demarco Murray all but signaled the end of Barber's reign in Big D, and he will probably be cut once the market opens. Miami is definitely in dire need of a scat back; however, Tony Sparano has already announced his intentions to re-implement a power rushing attack, and Miami did just fine with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown in 2009.
Pairing Barber with rookie Daniel Thomas would provide the 'Fins with an absolutely devastating and punishing rushing attack. Barber would be a cheap pick up and Miami could potentially rely on Kory Sheets to fulfill scat-back duties, leaving them with plenty of cap space to allot to offensive guard and outside linbacker--two areas of great need.