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A Few Thoughts on Free Agency
Updated 05-08-02

The first round of free agency is over, as is the draft. Miami tried to shore up some of their weaknesses over the last few months, but they aren't finished just yet. While it is doubtful that  the Dolphins will resume their free agent signings until after June 1st, Miami will most likely be looking for depth along the defensive line, linebacker, and possibly safety. So I thought I'd take a look at who is/who should be available and which of those players Miami should take a look at.

DEs Rob Burnett and Michael Sinclair have paid visits to the Dolphin facilities. Miami is looking to add depth at the DE position after losing both Kenny Mixon and Lorenzo Bromell to the Vikings. While both Sinclair and Burnett have had Pro Bowl seasons in the past, they are nearing the end of their careers.

Burnett - 2001 - 20 tackles, 0 sacks,
2000 - 40 tackles, 11 sacks, 1 INT, 3 forced fumbles
1999 - 39 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Sinclair - 2001 - 25 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
2000 - 35 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles
1999 - 29 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Of the two, I'd rather have kept Bromell. Nothing against Burnett or Sinclair. I think either would make a decent backup and provide veteran leadership for Miami. But I just get a feeling that Bromell is on the verge of greatness, and I was not happy to see him depart. But since that will not happen, it looks like Miami's options are Sinclair or Burnett. I really have no preference between the two, though if I were forced to choose, I guess I'd select Burnett. He is only one season removed from having double digit sacks and has playoff/Superbowl experience.

Cris Carter is patiently waiting for another call from the Dolphins. The 36 year old receiver feels like he has another year or two left in the tank and could contribute. And I would not be opposed to signing him. But if Miami is looking to add a veteran receiver, than I hope they take a long look at Jacksonville receiver Keenan McCardell. The Jags have stated that McCardell would be released after June 1st, saving the Jags $2.8 million against the cap. McCardell posted excellent numbers last season, catching 93 balls for 1110 yards and 6 TDs. And he posted very similar numbers the year before, catching 94 passes for 1207 yards and 5 TDs. Add to that the fact that he is 5 years younger than Carter, and you can hopefully see why he would be my first choice. Wide receiver Antonio Freeman and veteran Herman Moore are also expected to be released, but I don't think Miami has much interest in them.
Carter - 2001 - 73 receptions, 871 yards, 6 TDs
2000 - 96 receptions, 1274 yards, 9 TDs
1999 - 90 receptions, 1241 yards, 13 TDs

McCardell - 2001 - 93 receptions, 1110 yards, 6 TDs
2000 - 94 receptions, 1207 yards, 5 TDs
1999 - 78 receptions, 891 yards, 5 TDs

At this point, it appears that Miami will not look to free agency to add depth at the LB position. Coach Wannstedt said, "...when you start getting into veteran guys, Twan, Hendricks and Galyon are core special teams guys. I mean they're good. And you sign a veteran linebacker and then you ask him to cover kickoffs, now we're not using a roster spot right wisely." I can only assume that the coaching staff feels confident with the players they currently have. So I guess it is pointless to discuss LBs right now. I can only hope that Wannstedt and company change their minds, as I feel that our LB corp lacks depth.

There has been a quite a bit of criticism directed at Miami's OL lately, and rightfully so. Dave Wannstedt has gone on record as saying that LT Brent Smith is "...looking awful good. I mean he's back 100% and he's moving around as good as he did last year before he got hurt. So that's real encouraging."

But that isn't the word coming out of training camp. Speculation is that both Smith and Spriggs are struggling, and the coaching staff is considering moving Mark Dixon to LT, and then moving Todd Perry to his more natural position at LG. Of course, Dixon has not yet announced whether or not he'll retire. Add to that the fact that Searcy hasn't played in two years, and you could understand the reason for Miami fans' criticism.

The Dolphins have spoken with former Bear Blake Brockermeyer, but at this time it does not appear that Miami will sign him. And there has been no mention of former Saint Tom Ackerman. I am hoping that a player like Ackerman will be brought in after June 1st.

Miami is not finished in the free agent market. But what they will do remains to be seen. The Dolphins will sign a DE, and a WR is also probable. We can hope that another offensive lineman or two will be signed. But unfortunately, it appears that at LB, what you see is what you get.