Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Possible Free Agent Targets

Omar Kelly, of the Sun-Sentinel, recently posted a list of six players he believes the Dolphins would be interested in once free agency begins.

Kelly also notes that Miami currently has about $24 million in cap space. That is a great deal of available cash, easily within the top third of the league I would guess.

Having that kind of money immediately puts Miami in play for the big-time blue-chip players. But should Miami deal out that kind of money for one or two players or spend it over multiple middle of the road role players as they were wont to do last offseason?

Let's take a look at his list and see who would be a good fit:
  • CB Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland. Like anyone who follows the Football Outsiders, I have a big thing for Asomugha. He is easily the best cornerback in the league, and is likely one of the best CBs that has come into the league in quite some time. Asomugha so completely and utterly locks down the opposing receiver he is matched up with that QBs rarely even bother to look in his direction, never mind actually throw the ball that way. FO actually had to alter their minimum standards for their CB metrics last season because Asomugha was not targeted enough to be ranked among the other 60+ starting CBs. Now, Oakland lacked a good-enough CB opposite Asomugha that QBs could just force-feed the ball away from him. That wouldn't happen in Miami. Will Allen is a top-15 CB, despite little recognition as such, and combining the two would make passing against Miami's CBs absolute hell for the other team. That extra half-second or second of coverage time also would go a long way towards helping out the deficient pass-rush. It's unlikely at this point that Nnamdi will even make it to free agency, despite his obvious desires to leave that team, since Oakland can franchise tag him. Still, Oakland has done more idiotic things than let someone of his caliber get away. If he does somehow make it onto the market, Miami has to be big players in the running for him. He is going to come with a prohibitively large contract, but as I see it, he's worth every penny of it. He's still only 27 years old, he doesn't have an injury concerns, and he's a stand-up player off the field. Miami had better get ready to open their wallets for this guy.
  • S O.J. Atogwe, St. Louis. Kelly really likes Atogwe and wants him to come to Miami; it's something he's been clamoring for all year. He does have a propensity to come up with big interceptions, but besides that he isn't all that exciting to me. Kelly cites his 11 career fumble recoveries as more proof of his play-making ability. Let me repeat: Fumble recoveries are random occurrences and do not have any bearing on a player's prospects of future success. He is also very poor in pass coverage - something that our free safety cannot afford, since Yeremiah Bell plays down in the box so much. I would rather re-sign Renaldo Hill to a cheaper contract (Atogwe likely won't come cheap) or sign some other mid-level player to take Hill's spot.
  • C Jason Brown, Baltimore. Samson Satele took a lot of flack this year for his regression, and justifiably so. The promise he showed in his rookie year faded fast. So the question remains, which one is the real Satele? It's clearly too early to give up on him entirely (as in cutting him), but the team needs to bring in better competition for the starting center spot. I don't think Al Johnson is going to cut it. Then again, the coaches were using Andy Alleman at center when they acquired him, but injuries to the guard position forced a switch. Perhaps once Justin Smiley is fully recovered, the team will move Alleman back to center and have him compete with Satele. Another option would be to bring in Brown. I don't think Satele has too many problems with pass blocking; my main concern with him is his run-blocking. And in that regard Brown certainly trumps him. But if you go back and look at Baltimore's run-blocking success behind Brown in Brown's first years with the team, he was awful. It's simply the case that immediately inserting highly-drafted rookie offensive linemen into the starting lineup tends to bring with it a decline in performance as those players adjust to the NFL. That could be the case with Satele, or it might not be. Does that uncertainty warrant paying out a big contract to Brown? I say no.
  • MLB Karlos Dansby, Arizona. Dansby is likely headed for another franchise tag, so it's unlikely that he'll hit the market. If he does, however, and Miami decides that they aren't bringing back Channing Crowder (I think they should re-sign him), Miami should certainly be interested. He can play in a 3-4 and he is still young. However, this year's draft seems to have a lot of talented high-end LBs, and with the 25th selection, Miami will be in prime position to take one of them. I think I'd prefer that option over signing Dansby.
  • DE Julius Peppers, Carolina. There's little doubt that Peppers is an elite player. Even so, he's already being over-payed for what he provides ($14+ million cap hit this year). If he hits the market, I don't think he'll be looking to take a pay decrease. That means the disparity between his performance and pay will only grow. Besides, Miami already has its two DEs of the future lined up in Kendall Langford and Phillip Merling.
  • ILB Bart Scott, Baltimore. Out of Baltimore's tremendous linebacking corps (Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Scott) Scott is probably the least heralded. He's an even better run-stopper than Crowder, but I'm not sold on his coverage skills. He'd probably represent a slight upgrade in pass rushing as well. But Channing is 3 years younger. It's a tough call between the two, and would largely hinge on how much money Scott is asking for. He's definitely a target though.

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