Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What to do with Miami's free agents

With free agency opening on Friday, Miami will have to make some decisions this week on how to approach their own players who have expiring contracts or who are restricted free agents.

Here's what I would do:

First off are the Exclusive-rights free agents - guys with 2 or fewer years whose contracts have expired. They don't really have a choice in accepting their tender since they can't negotiate with any other teams. Miami's ERFAs are Dan Carpenter, Davone Bess, and Joey Haynos. They should all be tendered and brought back.

Next up are the restricted free agents:

  • TE Anthony Fasano - Fasano had a horrible year in 2009, but he's still the best tight end on the team. He has to be brought back, but I don't think the team needs to tender him at the highest level. I think the first-round tender (as opposed to the first and third round tender) will be fine. And if any team really wants to part with a first round pick for him, then all the better. Of course, the team could also tender him at original pick compensation, which would only require a $1.176 million salary in 2010 and the team would get a second round pick if any other team signed him.
  • OLB Quentin Moses - Moses may not even make the team this year, but it won't hurt to slap the original pick tender on him and have him compete for a spot in camp. And remember, Moses was actually drafted in the third round, so if any team wants him that's the pick they'd have to give up.
And lastly, the unrestricted free agents:
  • QB Chad Pennington - I'm still hoping that Buffalo will trade for Tyler Thigpen, allowing Miami to bring back Pennington, but that's a long shot to ever happen. As it is, there's simply no room on the roster for Pennington, backup or not. Letting him go makes the most sense for Miami's young QBs to get more work. And it's important to remember that the more free agents Miami loses, the more likely they are to be awarded compensatory draft picks. Losing a player of Pennington's caliber will likely carry some weight in those decisions.
  • OLB Jason Taylor - He recently had shoulder surgery so Taylor may not be signed by anyone right away as teams wait to see how he recovers. But he played well last year and Miami really doesn't have much depth at OLB, so he really should be brought back on a two-year deal.
  • NT Jason Ferguson - Big Ferg's also recovering from an injury. He's likely to be healthy in time for the season and he said that if he decides to return to play in 2010 he only wants to play for Miami. And Miami needs him, whether they draft a top NT prospect or not. No rookie NT is going to come in and take over the nose position on a full-time basis right off the bat. Having Ferguson around for another year will really help out the D-line's depth.
  • CB Nathan Jones - This is a tricky one because Jones is still young, he was a decent nickel CB and he became the team's best special teams player this year after Patrick Cobbs went down with an injury. But now the team is stacked at CB with Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, and Will Allen. Will Allen will likely take over Jones' nickel role. And Jason Allen is capable enough to handle the fourth CB duties. So there's not really a role for him anymore. And with Cobbs returning, it's not as dire a need to keep him solely for special teams. The word is that Miami isn't planning on re-signing Jones and that's perfectly fine. He's been a solid player for the Dolphins but now the team can bring in another young defensive back to groom.
So that's it. I'd tender all the ERFAs and RFAs, I'd let go of Pennington and Jones, and I'd give one or two-year deals to Taylor and Ferguson.

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