The AFC East, for years, has been the home of the Patriots and their, “smart moves”. This year the team in the division making the intelligent off-season decisions is the Miami Dolphins. Re-signing Brent Grimes to a 4-year deal with half guaranteed money. The Dolphins signed a veteran Pro Bowl offensive lineman who has stated he openly wants to join the team. Bringing in a young, up-and-coming defensive tackle from Houston, who was signed for sound, reasonable money. Also adding a safety that is hungry for post-season success not seen in South Florida in decades. The Dolphins did not act rashly and overspend on a player the league is unsure of his place. The Patriots did that, paying a former league best corner $12 million for one season. Way out of character reeking of pure desperation. The Dolphins haven’t made one move even sniffing of that odor. Branden Albert did set the offensive line price point. He also has been consistent on the field, and maybe more important to the Dolphins these days, off the field. He was a team leader in Kansas City, and a big part in the success by fellow Pro Bowler, Jamaal Charles this past season. It may be questioned did Albert get a million here or there too much. But what isn’t questioned is his level of play on the field. Darrelle Revis, at this point of his career, is full of questions. Can he still be the best corner in the league, yes! Is there a chance after a major injury and now his third team in as many seasons that his best days are behind him, also yes! These are questions a team ruined by bad decisions the last decade plus could ill afford. It is time in Miami for stability, and some forward thinking.
Miami is in a position where they could either go forward toward success, or remain behind the lead pack, as they have since #13 left. The moves made early in free agency demonstrate a positive pivot in the right direction. The roster is still young, but it also feels smart, as well. We have seen in recent off-the-field player actions that we never really know any player. Look at Darren Sharper, a model citizen for the entirety of his career. Now arrested on multiple charges of rape and other alleged illicit practices. The sentiment around these recent Dolphins’ moves still is speculation and assumption; however, there was definitive knowledge of Richie Incognito’s past, and whispers of Jonathan Martin and what could be issues with him, as well. None of that is at all the case with any of the moves the Dolphins have made. Between Grimes, safety Louis Delmas, Branden Albert, Earl Mitchell, and Randy Starks, the book is clean. Yes it is not 100% certain, but we have a good vibe that could not be said for past moves, from Brandon Marshall, to Richie Incognito, and even Jonathan Martin.
“We need to change the culture”, is something we hear from NFL franchises every time there is a regime change. Those are just words that truly have no meaning to them. They are just words being spouted because so often the new regime doesn’t change anything. This time around in Miami, its not so much what Dennis Hickey is saying, moreover what he is doing. That old saying, actions speak louder than words, has never been so true as it is these days around the Dolphins organization. In the past the Dolphins were obstinate, short-sided, and out-of-sync. Hickey has changed that; the Dolphins are now transparent. They are honest with what they are doing and thinking. Case in point, in the past with their own free agents they kept them or let them go, they did not see what would happen as one unit comprised of coach and GM. They did not clue the player in on their decision- making process at all. This off-season, under Hickey, the Dolphins sat down with their free agents and were honest with them. They openly told Paul Soliai and Randy Starks what they were worth to the franchise. They also said if either Starks or Soliai felt they were worth more on the open market to go look and see if they could get it. They didn’t lie or hide their true sentiments. They admitted they could not offer them elite money and they wanted them to do what was best for them. You know what, it worked, Soliai got a ridiculous $33 million deal with Atlanta. Soliai, a good nose tackle, but by no means the play-maker you have to be to get the contract he signed. Starks, the other major free agent for the Dolphins shopped himself, and found out the market was not in his favor. He took less than expected to re-sign with Miami. Most importantly, he was happy to do it.
The moves the Dolphins have made right now reside in the world of fantasy; we have no clue if they will work on the field of play. It isn’t known if the Dolphins will be a Super Bowl contender, even a playoff contender after these moves. What these moves have demonstrated is a clear shift in the decision process for the organization. It also has shown that the Dolphins are acting on their own instead of reacting, they are working together, and most importantly, HAVE A PLAN! The last part alone is a changing of the guard extremely welcomed by the South Florida fan-base.