During Super Bowl week, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio stopped by The Finsiders set in New Orleans to talk Dolphins free agency.
Miami’s receivers accounted for just two touchdowns in 2012, fueling, perhaps, intentions to add playmakers on the edge. In an effort to help young quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the team could target receivers as early as the 12th pick in April’s draft. Though in what’s considered a deep receiver class, the Dolphins may be better served to look for immediate returns in free agency.
“The problem is if you draft a guy, very rarely does he make an impact before his third year. That tends to be the make-or-break year for receivers,” Florio said. “You want someone that’s going to come in and make an impact right now.”
If the Dolphins do make a strong play for a top-line receiver in free agency, who will be available? Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings has a preexisting relationship with Joe Philbin, his former offensive coordinator. Dwayne Bowe, the Kansas City receiver, is a South Florida native, who attended Miami Norland High School. But Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace, a proven deep threat, could potentially go to the highest bidder, Florio said, with the Steelers unlikely to retain him.
“The question is: how much is it going to take to get him versus some other team?” Florio said. “Is another team going to offer as much and he’s going to want go there because he views that team as a contender?
“That’s what hurts a team in free agency. You want to have that reputation of being a contending team, so if all things are equal, the guy comes to you.”
Another big question mark that will linger into free agency: the status of Jake Long, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft. The decision whether to re-sign the left tackle could end up being strictly financial. When he entered the league, the rookie salary structure was drastically different under the previous CBA; there was no slotted system like there is today.
If they so choose, the Dolphins could use the franchise tag on Long, locking him up for at least the 2013 season, before he tests the waters, though with so many variables — lots of cap space, a large group of free agents, etc. — that’s unlikely.
But even if Miami opts not to use the franchise tag in 2013 — on Long or any of its other 11 unrestricted free agents — it will likely affect negotiations — indirectly, at least. That could potentially push players to test the market, where there’s plenty of volatility and more uncertainty for both parties.
“That’s the problem with the franchise tag; it becomes the starting point for the discussions on a long-term deal,” Florio said. “That’s just good business.”
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