Fear not Dolphins fans, it appears that the NFL is just about to get started again. The last 12-18 hours have been absolutely crazy. First, the Owners voted on the new CBA proposal and passed it 31-0. Al Davis and the Raiders were the only team to abstain (shocking!). Then, we were bombarded with press conferences and a tentative schedule for the next week by the NFL/Owners. Fans were giddy (myself included), high fives and fist pumps all around. But, something was being overlooked…The Players hadn’t voted and passed the new CBA yet! The prevailing thought was that the Players would vote on their conference call last night, just after 8pm. Turns out they didn’t because they didn’t have all of the legal documents and didn’t have enough time to properly read through the documents they did have. What ensued were accusations from players, mass hysteria, and panic. Late last night/early this morning Chris Mortenson of ESPN seemed to calm everyone’s fears, saying that the NFLPA was still optimistic and would likely vote today.
If the vote comes back with acceptance of the deal, the Lockout would likely be lifted by tomorrow…..Praise Ray Finkel! So what is going to happen over the next few days/week? ESPN has a timeline in this story. Here’s a brief rundown of the key points and how it could be a HUGE weekend for the Miami Dolphins:
- Team facilities open, voluntary workouts, conditioning, etc. take place.
- Teams/Players can renegotiate contracts..Teams can sign their draft picks & their own unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents, franchise players.
- Starting at 2pm, teams can negotiate with, but not sign undrafted rookie free agents, free agents, and other clubs’ unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents.
It seems like it’s been years, but very shortly we could actually be talking about NFL football again. We could soon be talking about who the Miami Dolphins are signing, who the Philadelphia Eagles are trading Kevin Kolb to, etc. The NFL Owners and Players have been slowly coming together, working towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that would mean labor peace for the next 7-10 years. Thankfully, we wouldnt’ have to hear about lockouts, injunctions, or decertifications anymore….at least for a while.
Earlier this week, the sides were said to be making progress….That is until the progress stopping, stone wall was put up in the negotiations. The two sides spent a solid 2 days and 20+ hours of negotiating on the rookie salary pool. Reports started to turn negative and hope was beginning to dissipate. Then, yesterday the breakthrough occurred: The Owners and Players agreed to a new rookie pay system. It was a Christmas in July miracle! Or was it? According to SI.com, it appears that the players union or group, or whatever they’re called now, played a relatively big poker chip. It seems that DeMaurice Smith had secretly taken out lockout insurance for the players, ensuring that each player would receive roughly $200,000 if the season was lost. This was kept extremely close to the vest, and it appears the Players played this card on Thursday morning.
Like you, I am counting down the hours and seconds until the Lockout is over the Miami Dolphins can finally start adding pieces to their roster for the 2011 season. This entire offseason, outside of the draft, we have been left to only speculate about what the Dolphins are going to do to improve this team. One of the two positions that’s been speculated about most is the running back position. The Dolphins drafted Daniel Thomas out of Kansas State in the 2nd round of April’s draft. The speculation has been about who else the Dolphins will have, to team with Thomas in the backfield.
Yesterday, Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network said that the Dolphins would likely “set the market” for the Saints’ Reggie Bush. Jason is a respected NFL insider, so I don’t doubt a source told him this. However, I do doubt that the Dolphins would actually set the market for Reggie Bush (let alone tell people about it before they did it). Reggie Bush is a nice player, but certainly isn’t worth a big contract. In fact, I think he should be the 3rd or 4th option at RB that the Dolphins explore this offseason.
Today is a big day for the Miami Dolphins and every other NFL team. Today in New York, the Players and Owners will resume their negotiations towards a new CBA. Why is it so big? Well, the key mediator in the talks, Judge Boylan, is set to start a vacation on Saturday. Both sides have claimed that he has been instrumental in getting both sides to talk. If he leaves for vacation without the framework of a deal in place, there is a real possibility that training camps and preseason games could be compromised. The unofficial deadline for a deal is next Friday, July 15th. If a deal isn’t reached by then, training camps won’t start on time and preseason games will start to be cancelled, costing both sides hundreds of millions of dollars.
With all of that said, there is the possibility that the two sides could be closing in on a deal and the Lockout could be lifted within the next 2 weeks. The big question is: What will the Miami Dolphins do once the Lockout is lifted? Here’s a look at some of the possible moves the Dolphins could look to make, to shape their 2011 roster:
1. Sign DeAngelo Williams – We’ve made it very clear that DeAngelo is the running back we’d most like to see on the Dolphins in 2011. He’s reportedly bought a home in South Florida and wants to be a Dolphin. There are other options, but DeAngelo is the best compliment to Daniel Thomas.
2. Acquire a Veteran QB – Jeff Ireland has made it very clear that he plans on bringing in a veteran QB to compete with Chad Henne in training camp for the starting role. Whether it’s Kyle Orton via trade, Vince Young, Marc Bulger (I hope not), Matt Hasselbeck, or anyone else, the Dolphins will bring someone in.
3. Acquire a QB to Develop – This one may surprise some of you. But, if the rules of free agency return to the pre-2010 standards, Tyler Thigpen will be an unrestricted free agent. This means the only QB’s on the roster will be Chad Henne and Todd Brandstater. The Dolphins will be in the market for a veteran QB, but will also have room on the roster for a QB to develop. The buzz yesterday was that the Dolphins could be looking to use a supplemental draft pick on Terrell Pryor. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to using a pick on Pryor, as long as it is a 5th rounder or lower. He needs to learn how to be a quarterback and is probably 2-3 years away from actually playing in the NFL.
Before the Lockout started, the Miami Dolphins placed a $12 mil franchise tag on their monster NT, Paul Soliai. We, like many of you, were very excited to hear over the weekend that Soliai is working hard despite being lockout of the Dolphins facility. From what we understand, Soliai is weighing in at 342 lbs, right around the playing weight that Tony Sparano would like him to be at. We hope Paul continues to build upon the improvement he showed in 2010. He was a force to be reckoned with on the interior of the Dolphins defensive line.
Photo by Chris J. Nelson
However, keep in mind that while Paul is working hard to ‘earn’ his $12 mil in 2011, he is also working hard to ‘earn’ a long term contract from Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins. The $12 mil contract he signed is a 1 year deal, meaning that Soliai will need to show in 2011 that he can maintain the high level he played at in 2010. The Dolphins would be wise to hold off on a long term deal until at least mid-way through the 2011 season, making Paul prove that he’s worth the investment. We like Soliai a lot, don’t get us wrong, but he’s a player that has had weight issues and motivational issues in the past…..So if you give a player like that a big, long term deal, he could slip into his old habits.
We’re excited to see what Paul can do in 2011 for the Dolphins because he has the size and strength to demand double teams, which will free up other defenders to stop the run or get to the quarterback. We just hope he continues to improve and show the consistency that made him so good last season. A dominating Soliai in the middle will allow Randy Starks to move to the DE position, only to spell Soliai on obvious passing downs inside. This creates a great DE rotation of Kendall Langford, Randy Starks, and last year’s first round pick for the Dolphins, Jared Odrick.
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The Miami Dolphins have a number of positions that they will look to address once Free Agency (finally) starts this offseason. One hole that the Dolphins will look to fill is at outside linebacker. They’d like to find a player that can rush the quarterback, particularly on obvious passing downs. The Dolphins have Pro Bowler Cameron Wake on one side, but need a legit pass rushing attacker on the other side. We’re big fans of Koa Misi, but pass rushing is not one of his strengths. He’s very good against the run because he has a motor that doesn’t stop. But on obvious passing downs, the Dolphins would like to have someone that can pressure the QB, opposite Cameron Wake.
Two names jump to mind to fill the pass rushing role at OLB. First, Manny Lawson of the San Francisco 49ers will likely be a free agent. He’s young and has played under Dolphins defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan, before. The big question with him will be how much money he commands. The Dolphins will likely use a majority of their cap room (whatever it is) to sign a QB (or 2) and a starting caliber running back. That means that Lawson might be out of their price range….Then again, plans A and B might fall through and Lawson might just come along at the right price. He would be our top choice due to his age and potential.
Earlier this offseason, Brandon Marshall of the Miami Dolphins was vocal and very active on Twitter. However, following the stabbing incident with his wife in April, Marshall has taken a huge step out of the media spotlight. We’ve heard from Mike Sims-Walker that Marshall is doing well, which is positive news. We wish Brandon the best in both his professional and personal lives.
Yesterday, the Sun Sentinel had a story about Marshall’s offseason routine. No, he isn’t working out with Chad Henne, Jake Long, and the other Dolphins in Florida. He’s working out with his own trainer from FitSpeed. Marshall is working on improving his speed, something that helped him prior to the NFL draft. The Sentinel is reporting that Marshall’s trainer has confirmed that Brandon is now running in the 4.4′s. He’s clearly dedicated to becoming a better player, which will only help the Dolphins. He’s best known on the field for his ability to run after the catch and if he can improve his speed, he can be that much better. This is not to say that Marshall was slow last year, but adding even more speed to his game will add more explosiveness to the Dolphins passing attack. That is, of course, if the QB can get him the ball!
As fans of the Miami Dolphins we are left to wait impatiently for the Owners/Players to agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Judging from the positive news we continue to hear about the negotiations, we may not have to wait that much longer. While there is no deal in place, we are beginning to hear some details of what might be included in the new CBA…Some of the leaked details could actually help the Miami Dolphins, as the move forward and sculpt their 2011 roster. We’ll get to that a little later in this post.
First, we want to give you a brief rundown of what the CBA might look like. For a full breakdown, please check out Andrew Brandt’s latest column here. Here are some of the leaked details that are being discussed, as part of the new CBA:
- Players will receive roughly 48% over all revenue generated by the NFL
- Unrestricted Free Agency will be granted to players having amassed 4 years of NFL experience
- Following the 2014 season, the NFL will look to add a full Thursday night game schedule, further increasing revenues
So why do we think the Dolphins could benefit from the new CBA rules that we’ve learned? The key is the second highlight mentioned above. Some of the players we’ve discussed the Dolphins targeting this offseason would be unrestricted free agents under this new CBA. Players such as Ahmad Bradshaw and DeAngelo Williams, to name a few. At a time, there was talk of the NFL requiring 5 or 6 years of service before becoming unrestricted free agency. If that happened, neither player would be available without giving their current team draft pick compensation (restricted free agents).
A lot has been made this offseason about the Miami Dolphins’ search for a quarterback to bring in and compete with Chad Henne. Fans, as well as the Dolphins’ brass, realize that the longer the Lockout continues, the more difficult it will be for a veteran QB to come in and unseat Chad Henne. For those of you that are avid readers of PhinNation.com, you know that we think a solid veteran QB must be brought in to compete with Henne in Dolphins training camp. We’ve endorsed the aquisition of either Kyle Orton or Vince Young as the top two targets. We also like the idea of Carson Palmer coming to Miami, but we know the probability of him being traded is low.
Tony Sparano seems to be changing his tune a bit regarding his quarterback for 2011. Until recently, Sparano gave more vague answers when asked about Chad Henne. However, as reported here, coach Sparano admitted that there is a ‘good chance’ that Henne will be the Dolphins starter when the 2011 season begins. Sparano has praised Henne this offseason for learning the Dolphins new offense from Brian Daboll and teaching it to his teammates during the Lockout. Henne, along with Jake Long, have been leading the Dolphins player only practices for the last 3 months. Therefore, Henne will have a 3-4 month head start on whomever the Dolphins decide to bring in and compete with him.
Three years ago the Miami Dolphins held the number 1 overall pick in the draft. Instead of choosing a quarterback (Matt Ryan), they chose to select Jake Long at #1 overall, and gamble on Chad Henne in the 2nd round. Ryan has blossomed as a quarterback with the Falcons, while Henne has not yet lived up to the franchise QB that the Dolphins had hoped he’d be. Earlier this offseason, Bill Parcels, the grand facilitator of the draft, admitted a mistake in not taking Ryan. No use crying over spilled milk, what’s done is done.
Photo by Chris J. Nelson
Henne’s legacy with the Dolphins will likely depend on his performance in 2011, both in training camp and in the regular season. It’s the number 1 player taken in that draft that sometimes goes unnoticed….and it’s hard to overlook someone as gigantic as Jake Long! All Jake has done in his 3 seasons with the Dolphins is go to the Pro Bowl 3 straight years. With the Lockout in full effect, every website out there is making up lists about the best players in the NFL. In almost every list we’ve seen, Jake Long is ranked #1 or #2 at the Left Tackle position.