Posts Tagged ‘Miami Dolphins’

Well – NFL free agency began Tuesday, and while it’s not a free-for-all, things have certainly gotten off to a rapid, exciting start. While “Manning-Watch 2012” is in full swing, other notable players have already settled in with new teams and contracts. Most notably, DE Mario Williams has literally shook up the league by signing the richest contract for a defensive player in NFL history – and taking his services to the Buffalo Bills, of all places.

This has to be the surprise of free agency, and I doubt anyone will top it. In Buffalo, the fanbase is going CRAZY – a little too crazy, if you ask me. I understand the excitement, and I think anyone should be excited to land possibly the #1 free agent out there – but you’d think Jesus was signed to play (and I’m not talking about your Latino neighbor with the hot wife). This is no shock if you look at the history of free agent signings in the post-Jim Kelly era – the fans had similar over-reactions to Drew Bledsoe and Terrell Owens coming to town. They’re desperate to be competitive, and the small town desire to be as relevant as the big city teams permeates throughout the area.

Mario Williams (with his fiance) may truly be the biggest free agent signing of the NFL off-season - and NOT just due to what he brings on the field.

Just don’t tell me this means Super Bowl – the Houston Texans had a much better team than the Bills the past 5 years with Williams, and yet never made the playoffs (they made it last year, but he was hurt after the first 5 games). It takes a complete team – and last I checked, while this is promising for the Bills – they still have the same crappy head coach.

In the short term, it means nothing if the team doesn’t continue in building the team up – it’s just a way to sell season tickets and make money. But the DRAW that comes along with the biggest free agent coming to your town??

Well – put it this way. No one gave a fudge about Green Bay before Reggie White gave ’em a shot. And while Williams is no Reggie White – he can be used as a piece to entice free agents to a city they would NEVER consider otherwise.

In my opinion, regardless of how it plays out for the rest of the off-season – the Williams signing is THE BIGGEST signing of this year’s free agency, no matter what. Not because of his name, but because of what it would mean for drawing in money, national TV coverage, and – if the organization actually is trying to be a contender – what it means for bringing in other players over the years.

The Bills also had their sights on grabbing a top free agent WR – but were spurned by WR Robert Meachem, who instead signed with the San Diego Chargers. Replacing the now-departed Vincent Jackson (more on that in a second), I think the Chargers make out here. While Meachem is 3 inches shorter, he’s still 6 ft. 2, has great hands and speed, and is considerably cheaper than Jackson would have been if SD had kept him. He has a catch rate of over 60%, and while some would try to argue he benefited from having Drew Brees as his QB – I find that argument flawed, because wouldn’t he stand to benefit from Philip Rivers too, by that train of thought?

He’s also incredibly durable and much less injury-prone than Jackson. Combining him with Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd and the newly signed Eddie Royal – he could have a breakout year. Hell, he got at least 600 yards the past 2 years as the 4th receiver in New Orleans – you think he can’t get that with MORE targets as a #1 WR??

Both New Orleans and Sand Diego lost pieces to the team that’s really cleaning up in free agency so far – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After a really bad season last year, they’re re-tooling and spending the money to be a force in the NFC South. They grabbed Jackson from San Diego, top free agent guard Carl Nicks from the Saints, and a good cornerback in Eric Wright from the Detroit Lions. This is a team that already had tons of great pieces all over the board. Granted, they’ve got a 1st-time NFL coach in Greg Schiano, but if he can remotely get this team to build a good chemistry…Tampa Bay could wind up a playoff team again.

Thus far, the biggest loser in free agency is unquestionably the Miami Dolphins. Let’s see – they gave up troubled but talented WR Brandon

Peyton Manning came to Miami - and then he left Miami. For good.

Marshall to the Chicago Bears for a bag of peanuts and a Snicker bar (not really – but two 3rd-round draft picks ain’t too much better); got passed over by Reggie Wayne when he re-signed with Indianapolis instead of giving the Dolphins a shot like he had hinted, and were officially eliminated from the Peyton Manning sweepstakes Friday. Yikes. And this is a team that didn’t have a winning record last year, and now have a new coach to deal with.

What are they doing? I have friends who are Dolphins fans, but I’m sorry – they look like they’re on a one-way ticket to doormat-ville. Even if they sign free agent QB Matt Flynn – does anyone really see anything out of this team to say their future looks promising? Granted – there’s a lot of time left, and the draft hasn’t happened. But things are looking a bit crazy right now…

A few other moves I think are good: San Francisco signing Randy Moss to a low-risk, incentive-laden contract; the Tennessee Titans throwing themselves into the Manning sweepstakes and signing free agent guard Steve Hutchinson (a good friend of Manning’s); the St. Louis Rams juicing Washington by trading their #2 pick for the #6 pick, a 2nd-rounder this year, and 1st round picks in 2013 and 2014…along with getting Jeff Fisher (yet another person Miami missed out on!) as head coach and grabbing top free agent corner Cortland Finnegan, and finally – Washington, for fighting for their annual title as the off-season champions of free agency (they’ve made quite a bit of signings thus far), as well as securing the right to draft superstar NCAA QB Robert Griffin III (even if they DID get killed in what they had to give to do so).

Still A LOT of time to go, and this will be playing out literally for months…but wanted to just give a quick look at this past week in free agency comings and goings. We’ll see how it plays out – until then…Shoot, Pass, Quibble!!