Dolphins host OG Jake Scott and LB Phillip Wheeler

Over the weekend, the Miami Dolphins brought in 2 free agents for a visit.  The Dolphins welcomed Jake Scott and Phillip Wheeler to Davie to kick the tires on these second-tier free agents. Maybe, just maybe, the Dolphins aren’t done adding pieces to the roster before the draft.

Jake Scott, formally of the Tennessee Titans, is a 6’5″ 295 lb. offensive guard.  Scott started 121 of 124 games during his time in Tennessee.  Scott is an athletic lineman, which makes sense considering the offense Joe Philbin wants to install.  According to the Sun Sentinel, Scott was ranked as the 7th best offensive guard in 2011, allowing just 2 sacks and committing just 3 penalties.  Scott, if signed, would likely replace Vernon Carey at the right guard position for the Dolphins.  Carey was not resigned by the Dolphins and still remains a free agent.

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What can the Dolphins expect from Garrard?

When the Miami Dolphins sign David Garrard earlier this week, it was met with a lot of questions.  Since the signing, we heard from Garrard and from Jeff Ireland.  According to both men, the Dolphins will have an open QB competition in training camp between Garrard and Matt Moore.  Honestly, I feel like someone is messing with me.  Doesn’t it seem like the Dolphins are always entering camp with a QB competition for the starter’s job?  Last year, the Dolphins sign Matt Moore who was signed to backup Chad Henne.  Some suggest he didn’t have a legit shot in the competition with Henne, but we saw Moore’s value after he was forced to take over the starting role.  Moore guided the Dolphins to a 6-3 record.  Moore has dodged bullets this offseason, with the Dolphins missing on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn.  Either would have been named the Dolphins new starter upon signing with the team.

Since the Dolphins were unable to bring in a clear upgrade to Matt Moore, they turned their attention to a guy who didn’t play in 2011 and is returning from an injured back.  Garrard’s contract will pay him just over $3 mil for 1 season.  He’s a low-risk, medium reward type signing.  I can’t say high reward, because Garrard does not have high reward potential.  This is not meant to diminish the value Garrard can bring.  He either beats out Matt Moore for the starting job, or he gives the Dolphins the best backup QB option in the division (except for maybe the Jets, I’M KIDDING!).

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What are the Dolphins going to do about adding wide receivers?

When the Miami Dolphins traded away their best offensive weapon, Brandon Marshall, many Dolphins fans thought the Dolphins had a plan on how to replace him.  That was a week and a half ago, and the Dolphins haven’t added a receiver since the Marshall trade.  This leads us to believe that the Dolphins will look to the NFL Draft to add talent to their receiving corps.  Joe Philbin told a group of Dolphins alumni that the strategy on offense in Green Bay was to build through the draft.  With the number of holes the Dolphins currently have, you have to believe he plans on doing the same thing in Miami.

The Dolphins currently have Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Clyde Gates, Roberto Wallace, and Jullius Pruitt on their roster.  Bess is a great slot receiver, but none of the other names particularly screams Donald Driver or Greg Jennings….not yet at least.  The Dolphins will most likely look to add at least 1 receiver in the draft.  My guess would be that they use their ‘double down’ draft strategy and will select 2 receivers.  They did this a few years ago when they selected Brian Hartline and Patrick Turner….then with Vontae Davis and Sean Smith.  The Dolphins hold the #8 pick, which many expect to be used on a quarterback (Tannehill) or a pass rusher (Coples).  However, they could look to trade back and acquire more picks.  As it stands now, the Dolphins have 4 picks within the top 75.  One would think that they plan to use 1 pick on a QB (Weeden or Tannehill), 1 pick on a pass rushing DE (Coples, Ingram, etc.) and at least one pick on a wide receiver (possibly 2).  Wide receiver is the position we’ll focus on today.  We’ll look at what traits Joe Philbin likes in his receivers and give you a few players that fit that mold.

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Is Brandon Weeden the Dolphins target at QB?

The Miami Dolphins are running out of options at the quarterback position this offseason.  However, Brandon Weeden could be the new object of the Dolphins affections.  Early in the offseason, Dolphins fans were promised an upgrade at the QB position (comments Jeff Ireland probably regrets right now).  They missed out on Peyton Manning and didn’t want to overspend for Matt Flynn.  They’ve since sign David Garrard, who has been told he would compete with Matt Moore for the Dolphins starting quarterback job.

Jeff Ireland said on Tuesday that the Dolphins will not be signing another veteran QB.  The Dolphins currently have Matt Moore, David Garrard, and Pat Devlin on their roster.  Moore and Devlin are both veteran options, but not franchise quarterbacks.  Devlin does not possess an NFL arm or, quite frankly, the potential to become an NFL QB.  This would lead Dolphins fans, like myself, to believe that the Dolphins are going to draft a QB in the upcoming draft.  With 2 veterans set to compete for the starting job, it’s likely that the Dolphins would pick a QB that needs some time to develop.  That rookie QB could be Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles, Brock Osweiler, or any other QB available in the draft.  Tannehill is the most likely because of Mike Sherman’s familiarity with him from Texas A&M.  Tannehill, most would agree, is not NFL ready and needs time to develop.  He’s a distinct possibility.

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Dolphins cut long-time safety, Yeramiah Bell

The Miami Dolphins finally freed up some cap space on Monday.  Unfortunately, it came at the cost of one of the most beloved, longest tenured Dolphins.  Dolphins safety, Yeramiah Bell was released by the team just hours before the Dolphins agreed to sign new quarterback, David Garrard.  Bell’s departure came as a shock, especially due to the timing.

According to Dave Hyde, the Dolphins told Bell’s representatives 3-4 weeks ago that the veteran safety was safe and wouldn’t be cut.  Then, a week into free agency, after many safety positions have been filled, the Dolphins cut one of their team captains.  Yes, Bell’s coverage has slipped over the last few years.  However, Bell is still a sure tackler and a defensive leader on the field.  Even if he is no longer playing up to his contract, he could have been released in a more classy fashion.  I know, I know, it’s a business.  After all, the Dolphins saved about $4.3 mil against this year’s cap by cutting Bell.  All I’m saying is that his release could have been done earlier in the offseason.

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Revised Dolphins Offseason Plan, PhinNation.com style

Earlier today, we wrote a letter to the Miami Dolphins General Manager.  That letter focused on the past and what has been a disappointing offseason for the Dolphins.  We’ve since stopped and caught our breathe.  It’s time to look forward.  It’s time to assess what the Dolphins have already done this offseason and look to the future of what they can still do to improve the team in 2012.

What the Dolphins have done

1. Re-signed Paul Soliai – Bringing back big Paul was a good move.  He signed a team-friendly deal because he wanted to come back to Miami.  Soliai’s return solidifies the defensive line and gives the Dolphins one less need to fill this offseason.  Soliai will continue to anchor the Dolphins D-line in the 3-4, but he will probably be used as a DT in the 4-3 sets on early downs.

2. Signing Richard Marshall – Marshall got a little more money than many expected a nickel corner to get.  However, we’re unsure (so is Marshall) exactly where the Dolphins will play him.  He can play free safety and cornerback. We mentioned previously that he could be a starting corner, if the Dolphins are actually shopping Sean Smith.  He’s pulled down 17 ints in his 6 NFL seasons, so at least we know he can catch them when they come his way.  No matter where he plays, this move improves the Dolphins secondary that ranked 25th in the NFL in 2011.

3. Signing Artis Hicks – Bringing Hicks in is an offensive line depth signing.  He could potentially compete for the starting RG or RT spot, but he’s probably more of a utility guy (ala Nate Garner).

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Alex Smith to visit Dolphins on Sunday

The Miami Dolphins are still looking for their QB upgrade over Matt Moore. According to ESPN, the Dolphins are expanding their search on Sunday by bringing in 49ers free-agent QB, Alex Smith. Smith’s visit with the Dolphins comes just a day after the team had Matt Flynn in for a visit.

With all of the hoopla surrounding Peyton Manning’s decision, it appears Alex Smith is open to looking at other options. The 49ers have flirted with Manning and now risk losing their starting QB. Earlier this offseason, the 49ers offered Smith a 3 year contract worth about $24 mil. Then, they jumped into the Manning race and are now one of the 3 finalists.

Bringing Smith in for a visit could simply be a leverage play by the Dolphins. It’s been reported that the Dolphins are looking to sign Flynn to a team friendly deal. Maybe those negotiations yesterday didn’t go very far, so the Dolphins are leveraging Flynn by bringing in Smith? Or, maybe the Dolphins actually have an interest in Smith?

Alex Smith was the number one overall pick in the 2005 draft. He struggled early in his career and has a 58% career completion percentage. However, last year, Smith blossomed. Smith threw for 17 TDs and just 5 INTs, leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship game. Maybe Joe Philbin sees something in Smith that makes him think he can be a better starter for the Dolphins than Flynn? Or maybe this is just a meeting that will cause Flynn to accept a lower offer from the Dolphins. We should know more later today…..

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Dolphins officially out of Manning race, Flynn and Anderson to visit

We now know why the Dolphins have moved on to Matt Flynn as their primary target at QB.  According to Jeff Darlington of NFL Network, the Dolphins received a phone call from Manning himself on Thursday, letting the team know what they were no longer being considered as an option for him in 2012.  The Dolphins moved quickly and called on Matt Flynn to arrange a meeting with the team this weekend.  Flynn is currently in Seattle making a free agent visit with the Seahawks.  At this point, it appears only the Dolphins and Seahawks are interested in Flynn.

Thankfully, this closes the book on the Peyton Manning mania that swept through South Florida.  As time goes on we learn more and more about the Dolphins pursuit of Peyton.   According to Jeff Darlington, it turns out that Peyton met with Joe Philbin, other members of the coaching staff, and Jeff Ireland or Stephen Ross.  Among those that helped in the courtship process included Dan Marino, Reggie Bush, and Jason Taylor.  Also according to Darlington, Peyton liked the Dolphins roster, but his lack of familiarity with the front office was the deciding factor.

A lot of Dolphins fans are worried that Flynn will be wooed by Pete Carroll and he’ll sign with the Seahawks before he ever gets to meet with the Dolphins this weekend.  I highly doubt it.  Although the Seahawks run a West Coast offense, there is much more familiarity between Flynn and Philbin from their time in Green Bay.  PLUS, Flynn knows that Stephen Ross needs a QB and will open up his wallet to get his man.  While I’m comforted by the fact that the Dolphins will probably sign Flynn at all costs, it also scares the hell out of me.  Flynn has shown flashes, but he has only started 2 NFL games.  I’d feel much better about the Dolphins bringing in Flynn at a decent contract and not overpay for him.  Hopefully the Dolphins can sign him to a team friendly deal that gives the team outs if Flynn does not develop into a franchise QB.

I think Flynn can be a very good NFL QB in Philbin’s system.  Peter King of SI.com agrees and thinks Flynn could be a top 15 NFL QB.  Read his story here about Flynn and you’ll feel better about his potential.  Flynn certainly has some things to work on, but given his familiarity with Philbin’s offense, he has the opportunity to succeed if he signs with the Dolphins.  Flynn  would be able to help Philbin implement his offense and would be an extension of the coach on the field.  Also keep in mind that Philbin spent the last 4 years with Flynn in Green Bay.  He knows his strengths and weaknesses.  If Philbin is willing to vouch for Flynn as a franchise QB, given this is his first head coaching opportunity, you have to trust him.  We’ll see how it shakes out, but I fully expect the Dolphins to get a chance to speak with Flynn this weekend.

A lot has been made (me included) about the Dolphins lack of wide receivers.  I’ve backed away from the ledge.  Joe Philbin has said this offseason that the Packers offenses were built through the draft.  He wants to get his type of guys on offense, which makes sense considering the Dolphins have been adding pieces to the defense thus far this offseason.  The Dolphins will probably look to sign a veteran receiver at a minimal salary and then focus on the WR position in the draft.  If I had to guess, I’d say the Dolphins will look at a pass rusher at #8, then focus on offense the rest of the way.  Maybe a TE like Dwayne Allen in the 2nd round (if he’s there)….Maybe they’ll double up and take 2 receivers in rounds 3 and 4?  Remember, the Dolphins have 4 picks within the top 75 this season, so they have options in the Draft.

Also notable is that defensive end Mark Anderson will visit the Dolphins today.  Anderson will be 29 this season, but could provide pass rush compliment to Cameron Wake.  Anderson tallied 10 sacks for the Pats last season.  Before New England he played a year with the Texans after being drafted by the Bears in 2006.

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Dolphins sign DB Richard Marshall to tighten up secondary

The Miami Dolphins have officially signed their second player of this free agency period.  Wednesday night, Richard Marshall announced on twitter that he and the Dolphins had agreed to a 3 year contract.  Moments later, Adam Schefter confirmed the signing and said the deal is for 3 years and $16 mil with $6 mil guaranteed.  Marshall was drafted in 2006 by the Carolina Panthers in the 2nd round.  He moved to the Arizona Cardinals last year before becoming a free agent.

Marshall brings versatility to the Dolphins secondary.  He can play cornerback or free safety.  He could slide in as the Dolphins nickel cornerback, but that is unlikely.  You don’t usually pay a nickel cornerback over $5 mil per year.  So, I would guess that Marshall is either coming in to play free safety or starting cornerback.  My guess would be free safety.  However, there was a rumor going around today that the Dolphins are shopping Sean Smith.  Omar Kelly shot down the rumor, saying that Smith would remain in Miami for 2012.

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Dolphins re-sign Soliai, meet with Winston & Marshall, wait on Manning

The Miami Dolphins waiting approximately 24 hours before signing their first free agent. Surprisingly, the first free agent the Dolphins sign, was one of their own.  On Wednesday, the Dolphins signed DT Paul Soliai to a 2 year contract worth $12 million with $6 million guaranteed.  The deal will cost the Dolphins roughly $4 million against the 2012 salary cap, reducing their cap space to just about $10.4 million.

While Soliai is not a free agent Dolphins fans anticipated, his value to run support in the Dolphins defense is important.  Soliai does not have huge stats, but he often occupies 2 blockers, allowing other Dolphins defenders to make plays.  It was believed that Soliai would get a much larger contract and that he would not be resigned by the Dolphins because of their reported switch to the 4-3 defense.  However, Soliai can play nose tackle in the 3-4 and is agile enough to play defensive tackle in the 4-3.  The fact that the Dolphins got Soliai at a good price is great news.  Now, the Dolphins can focus on filling other holes on their roster and potentially creating more cap space.  Among the candidates for restructuring their contracts are Jake Long, Karlos Dansby, and Yeramiah Bell.

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