This should be the week, ladies and gentlemen. The long awaited end to the NFL lockout is upon us, with an agreement expected to be announced in the next 48 hours or so.
It’s all but official now that the Dolphins will kick off training camp as scheduled a week from Wednesday. We started our training camp preview by taking a look at the receivers last week, but with camp fast approaching I’m going to start previewing units instead of each and every position.
The Dolphins’ defensive line made huge strides in 2010. By season’s end, they were forcefully establishing themselves as a brick wall against the run.
We know the defensive ends will likely be one of the strongest positions on the roster once again as the deepest position on the team regardless of whether or not Tony McDaniel bolts for a possible starting role as expected in free agency.
Nose tackle is far from deep, but after Paul Soliai’s breakout campaign in 2010, hopes are high that he’ll stay motivated and dominate as the anchor of the D-line once again in 2011.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN FREE AGENCY
You hate to let quality players walk in free agency, but the Dolphins probably don’t have any other choice with defensive end Tony McDaniel. McDaniel quietly had a breakout season of his own last year, but with Randy Starks and Kendall Langford solidified as the starters, 2010 first-round pick Jared Odrick returning from a broken leg, and with Phillip Merling looking to get back in on the rotation after missing most of 2010, the Dolphins would be wise to spend the cash it would take to retain McDaniel on a position of need.
As far as nose tackle goes, there isn’t much depth behind Paul Soliai. The Dolphins won’t have the cap room to invest in a proven veteran to provide it, so they would likely move Randy Starks back to the nose if Soliai goes down with an injury. The Dolphins may sign an undrafted rookie or a low-demand free agent to compete with Chris Baker and seventh-round pick Krank Kearse for the lone roster spot up for grabs.
Randy Starks: You have to admire the way Starks willingly moved inside to nose tackle after a stellar 2009 season at defensive end. The Jared Odrick injury early in the year forced Starks back to his prototypical position where he continued his emergence as one of the finest 3-4 ends in the league with his first Pro Bowl appearance.
His dominance against the run will go a long way in helping Mike Nolan’s defense reach elite status in 2011. The Dolphins hope a full year at DE will lead to more pass rush production this season as his sack totals dipped from 7.0 in 2009 to 3.0 in 2010.
It was quite the eventful Friday. Several reports surfaced that were worthy of a post. Obviously, the near resolution to the NFL lockout is dominating headlines, and rightfully so, as we all desperately want football to start on time in a couple weeks.
But there were also a few Dolphins-related nuggets that flew under the radar that should be interesting storylines to follow once an agreement is official. So let’s jump right in.
Resolution to lockout expected early next week
A day after the major breakthrough in negotiations that was the agreement in principle to a rookie wage scale, all significant stumbling blocks appear to have been hurdled. Today, the owners dropped their proposal to have one-time, right-of-first-refusal tags on free agents. Finishing up the language of the new deal, solving a few procedural minor issues, and dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s is all that’s apparently left to do.
How about this feel good tweet courtesy of Albert Breer to assure you sleep well tonight: "As we reported on Total Access, after two furious days of talk, agreement in principle expected early next week. Nearly nothing in the way." At one point in time we were all worried we could miss a huge chunk of the 2011 season. Now it appears most teams won’t even miss a practice in training camp.
Dolphins reportedly interested in Ray Edwards
Jason La Canfora is apparently pretty tight with the Dolphins’ front office. A couple days after launching all of this Reggie Bush to Miami speculation, he reported that the Dolphins are very interested in soon-to-be former Minnesota Viking defensive end Ray Edwards. Before you get bent out of shape as to why the Dolphins would ink another defensive end when they are loaded at the position, Edwards comes from the Vikings’ 4-3 system, meaning he would be an outside linebacker in Miami, one of the team’s top three needs as we inch closer to free agency.
Edwards hasn’t exactly established himself as a household name playing in the large shadow of All-Pro DE Jared Allen, but he’s been solid the past two seasons with back-to-back 8-sack campaigns. According to Pro Football Focus, those sack totals don’t justify how effectively he’s been able to rush the passer. They claim he created a quarterback disruption on 69 of his 416 snaps he rushed, ranking third in the entire league. Add that to the fact that he’s only 26 years old and it’s easy to see why the Dolphins may pursue heavily in free agency considering their defense could be another consistent pass rusher away from emerging as an elite unit.
But the price has to be right. Edwards is likely going to ask to be paid near the likes of the upper echelon defensive ends in the league. He may not even be a starter if he were to sign with the Dolphins. Miami obviously already has Koa Misi slotted to start on the strong side opposite Cameron Wake this year. What they’re really looking for is a situational pass rusher who could spell Misi in nickel and dime packages. Under that scenario, Edwards would still play the majority of his snaps with his hand in the dirt and barring injury, how quickly he could transition to playing standing up in the 3-4 wouldn’t be as crucial.
It’s something the Dolphins would surely benefit from, but would it really be worth paying a situational pass rusher starter’s money? Unless, of course, the Dolphins move Misi inside next to Karlos Dansby and give the keys to starting outside linebacker to Edwards. But I think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves there.
Lost in the ups and downs of labor negotiation, Jason La Canfora offered up a noteworthy headline earlier this evening on NFL Total Access. “From what I’m gathering, the Miami Dolphins might actually set the market for Reggie Bush,” La Confora said before speculating that the Rams and Eagles could also be suitors.
I wouldn’t put too much stock into reports like these simply because misinformation and smokescreens tend to dominate headlines in the weeks leading up to free agency. Still though, it kind of throws a wrench into our expectations for what Dolphins’ brass will do when the lockout is over.
Most of us were under the impression that DeAngelo Williams would be their intended target, if not Ahmad Bradshaw. However, in the event that the bidding war for Williams becomes too lucrative for Miami’s comfort and the Giants resign Bradshaw as expected, there isn’t a back on the market that would make more sense than Reggie Bush.
Bush is a homerun threat on every screen pass, toss to the outside, and punt return. His skill set would complement Daniel Thomas, who would obviously be the workhorse in this scenario, very nicely, as a third-down, change of pace back who can also line up in the slot at receiver when need be.
There are some concerns I have with a Dolphins-Bush marriage, though. First off, we don’t really know what we are getting with Daniel Thomas yet, meaning Jeff Ireland would have to exercise an awful lot of faith in his second-round investment by choosing to sign Bush over a guy like Williams or Bradshaw, who are capable of coming in and accumulating 200+ carries.
Secondly, you’re more than likely not going to get 16 games from Bush. Injuries have prevented him from reaching that mark for four straight seasons. And lastly, Bush doesn’t have much value when you look at rushing alone. His receiving and return ability, two assets the Dolphins would surely benefit from, are what make him an intriguing free agent. But he’s never going to be a vastly productive runner. He averaged less than 4.0 yards-per-carry in his first three seasons and has struggled with maintaining the toughness necessary to consistently run between the tackles.
If Daniel Thomas is the back the Dolphins think he is, none of that will matter much. If Thomas can productively carry the bulk of the workload, getting an explosive run, reception, or return here and there from Bush will surely suffice. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see how all of this plays out.
Give us your thoughts on the possibility of Bush coming to Miami? Which free agent running back would you prefer seeing the Dolphins sign?
With optimistic reports continuing to pour in on the labor front this week, it seems as though only the Hall of Fame game remains in jeopardy as the owners and players appear on the verge of striking up a deal in the next week or so.
We probably shouldn’t count our chickens before they hatch, but it’s at least time to start prepping for the beginning of the 2011 season.
If a new CBA is indeed in place by July 21, reports are that the Dolphins will be able to open camp as scheduled. That means Dolphins’ training camp is quite possibly only two weeks from today.
Previewing camp is no easy task this season. The roster is far from set with potential starters projected to be signed in free agency and several roster fringe undrafted rookies expected to be added once we’re back in business.
According to the tentative schedule, free agency is slighted to kick off July 28th if a new CBA is in place July 21st. That means the Dolphins would kick off camp a day before free agency.
So we’ll start previewing for Dolphins’ training camp 2011 by examining the positions that are virtually already set. Positions that won’t require nearly as much work for Jeff Ireland. So without further ado, here is the first installment of our training camp preview- a sign that football is (hopefully) right around the corner.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN FREE AGENCY
Fans love to throw out names like Plaxico Burress, Mike Sims-Walker, and now Donte Stallworth, but the truth is the Dolphins will have a complete receiving core if rookie Edmond Gates can emerge as the deep threat.
He has a lot to prove as a small-school rookie, but the Dolphins are going to give him every opportunity to develop into an asset for the offense in his first season. They’re not going to bring in a veteran that’s going to steal his reps. So don’t expect the Dolphins to sign a starting caliber receiver.
They may bring in a kick return specialist, but I see them letting Gates give it a shot. The Dolphins entered camp with 10 receivers a year ago, though, and with only 9 currently on the roster, they may look to add an undrafted rookie.
Brandon Marshall: I don’t feel that Marshall is under the threat of a possible suspension like some have speculated. With the facts at hand, he was nothing more than the victim when his wife plunged a kitchen knife into his abdomen. There’s nothing to see here and it’s time to put that one in the review mirror.
But there are also those that have speculated that the Dolphins could be pondering whether or not to cut Marshall. He may have done nothing wrong in the incident with his wife, but trouble does seem to follow him wherever he goes.
The Dolphins could save themselves $25 million over the next three seasons if they chose to rid themselves of Marshall and the baggage that comes with him within a 30-day window after the new league year begins. But there’s a reason they invested so much cash and two second-round picks in him a year ago. He’s a top five talent and he’s worth every penny.
There are no words to describe how much everyone misses football but another game that countless people around North America miss is fantasy football. While some football purest don’t believe in fantasy football, believing that it takes away from the game, there are millions that find fantasy football the most entertaining thing since watching the July 4th hot dog eating competition. That being said, amongst the boredom that is the NFL lockout, I decided to have some fun and find the greatest fantasy football performances in Miami Dolphins' history.
Best Fantasy Football Seasons – Miami Dolphins Style
QB - 1984- Dan Marino: 5,084 yds – 48 TD’S
In 1984 Marino put up one of the greatest fantasy football seasons of all-time. For many years Marino’s statistics were the greatest of any fantasy football season. Marino still in fact holds the record for passing yards in a season. During his historic season, he had 4 straight 4 TD games. Unfortunately, he who must not be named (Voldamoore aka Tom Brady), broke Marino’s touchdown record in the second greatest season by a QB ever. Marino would probably be considered the greatest fantasy football QB of all-time. Most Dolphins fans will tell you he is the greatest player of all-time as well, but that’s no surprise. ;)