Thursday, May 24, 2007

What's Green Worth?


Anyone who has been following the Dolphins for the past couple of months is probably very familiar with the team's attempts to acquire QB Trent Green from the Kansas City Chiefs. Every week, it seems, a new report is issued stating that the trade is imminent and is close to getting done. Recently, those reports have taken a sour tone as Green has expressed his frustration and anger towards the Chiefs' front office that is increasingly looking incompetent for how it has handled this situation. It seems inevitable that Green will end up in Miami this offseason; the only question is whether his arrival will happen sooner or later.

Now, given my understanding of the situation and the rational approach that I'm taking towards a deal for Trent Green, I have to voice my disagreement with the strategy that Palm Beach Post columnist Greg Stoda has voiced in his commentary "Don't quibble about the pick." Stoda's argument is that because Miami is "starved at quarterback despite having a cupboard filled with players listed at the position," the team should have no reservations about handing over a fourth-round draft pick to the Chiefs in order to get the trade done now. He goes on to justify this position by claiming the insignificance of fourth and sixth-round draft choices (Miami is reportedly willing to part ways with a sixth-round choice for Green). Although I would be content with trading a sixth-round pick for Green, I think that it's ridiculous to say that giving up a fourth-round pick at this or any point during this offseason is worth Trent Green. I like Green, and I think he will make this team better, but what he will bring to the table is not worth a fourth-round draft pick. Let's not forget that this team has used the strategy of giving up high draft picks for other teams' aging QBs for far too long and with far too little success. It's time the organization puts a premium value on the draft picks it has in order to build a solid young core. Thankfully, Cam Cameron and Randy Mueller have done a great job of that thus far.

I've been advocating patience this entire offseason, and there is no reason to suddenly abandon that patience and send a fourth-round pick away just to have Green with the team. Stoda is worried that the longer Miami takes in acquiring Green, the more likely it is for other teams to enter the mix and make a run for his services. He's probably basing this concern on recent rumors and speculation that Atlanta may be interested in Green as insurance for Michael Vick's legal troubles. Doesn't this scenario sound a lot like Cleveland's supposed interest in Green at the beginning of April?
Green did not want to play in Cleveland and he does not want to play in Atlanta. He wants to play in Miami. Because of this, he can refuse to negotiate his $7.2 million base salary if he is traded to anyone other than Miami, with whom he has already agreed to a restructured deal. That means that one of three things will happen:
  1. Miami trades for Green.
  2. Miami waits for Green to be released and signs him as a free agent. Miami won't need to worry about competition for Green's services in free agency if Green's stated desire to play in Miami remains true.
  3. Miami does not engineer a trade for Green, and Kansas City decides to keep him.
At this point, I highly doubt that Kansas City retains Green. He has already made it clear that he does not want to play for Kansas City this year, and KC does not want to pay more than $7 million to a backup. Thus, the best strategy for Miami is to just wait it out. The front office has shown an incredible patience so far this offseason, and there's no reason to change that now. Play the waiting game and force Kansas City to part ways with Green without having to give up a draft pick. It's not a big cause for concern that Green may have to miss time with Miami's offense in this scenario because he already has a good grasp of it, having played under Terry Shea in Kansas City.

So, let's assume that if Miami waits long enough, that Green will be released. Of course, this may mean waiting significantly longer than what would be optimal for Green as far as getting comfortable in Miami and with a new cast of teammates. But my question is how much is that difference worth to Miami? Exactly how much different will Green be for the Dolphins if he arrived tomorrow as opposed to a month or two down the road? Is that difference in ability worth sacrificing a future young player for this team? Not at all.

What I find particularly problematic are the examples that Stoda uses to back up his opinion. He cites different players that Miami has taken in the past with fourth and sixth round selections. Sure, Miami hasn't hit on all their draft picks in recent history, but should that mean that they simply give up on trying? What's more is that he goes on to name several players that actually defeat his argument. Take a look at the players listed below and ask yourself whether it would be worth it to give up a young player of that caliber in order to have Green at the Dolphins practice facilities for an extra few months.
  • 2002, fourth-round - TE Randy McMichael
  • 2003, sixth-round - S Yeremiah Bell
  • 2004, sixth-round - G Rex Hadnot
  • 2005, fourth-round - CB Travis Daniels
All of those guys are or were productive starters for the Dolphins. That list doesn't even mention the potential of recently drafted players like fourth-rounder Paul Soliai or sixth-rounder Reagan Mauia. It's also not fair to dismiss a player like CB Will Poole or T Joe Toledo just because they have been plagued by injuries. Stoda also argues that among these players it's difficult to justify the difference between a fourth and sixth round draft pick. I'd just like to see him call up a GM on draft day and try to swing a trade using a sixth-round pick where the value chart demands a fourth-round pick. The bottom line is that fourth-round players have a higher chance of succeeding than sixth-round players. The small pool of Miami players that he uses may not exemplify that, but I'm sure a league-wide sample size would show the difference.

We also have to be honest with ourselves. With or without Green, this is going to be a tough year for Miami to compete. The AFC is strong as usual, let alone the fact that the Jets and Patriots are both within the Eastern Division. With Miami's stout defense, they will always have a chance to compete. That chance just isn't very big. When it comes to a decision like trading for Green, the team must think about its future. Green is not the future of the Dolphins. He will start for a year or two at the most and then become a backup or retire. The player that Miami would choose with that fourth-round pick that Stoda wants Mueller to give up for Green could very well be a solid starter for a long time with this team.

It's absurd to think that giving up a future player like that is worth having Trent Green in South Florida a little early, just because some people are losing patience.

1 comment:

George said...

Hey, dude. I wrote a blog post about the Trent Green stand-off and I linked to your post.

You can read mine here:
http://dolphinswatch.blogspot.com/2007/05/green-situation-is-lose-lose-one.html