Thoughts on the Dolphins Free Spending
Maybe it’s just the bitter Panthers fan in me that wishes we could sign even reasonably priced free agents, maybe not, but I can’t help but be amused by some of the reactions to the first day of Free Agent frenzy. Whether it be on my favorite message board carolinahuddle.com, twitter, or Sportscenter, I see people going gaga over what’s going down in South Beach.
In the last week the Fish have given out $95 million to two Wide Receivers, and another $61 million to two Linebackers, neither of which look to be superstars at the position. All this, and they still haven’t addressed the position that is arguably their biggest need. Then just a little while ago I saw a tweet from the Dolphins twitter account proclaiming that it’s been an “exciting day”, and promising “there’s more to come”. This makes me wonder, is all this free spending by Miami today really about building a contender? Or is it more important to a franchise to sell tickets?
Now by no means am I trying to single the Dolphins out, and in no way am I naive enough to think these four players will get the entire amount of their contracts. But still, is spending for the sake of spending really the way to build a contender? Plenty of teams have certainly tried. Just two years ago, the Eagles were the talk of a shortened off-season. In 2011 they traded backup Quarterback Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for a package that included Pro Bowl Cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie. Feeling pairing DRC with fellow Pro Bowler Asante Samuel wasn’t enough they went out and spent big bucks less than 24 hours later on shutdown Corner Nnamdi Asomugha. They also added Defensive Tackle Cullen Jenkins, and Jason Babin on long-term deals during the same Free Agency period. Fast forward less than three years (and one poorly timed “Dream Team” comment) later, and not one of the above mentioned players are on the Eagles Roster. Not only that, but their Head Coach was sent packing to Kansas City because the team didn’t live up to the lofty expectations.
A similar scenario occurred in Charlotte, where the Carolina Panthers paid big money to keep the core of a 2-14 team before the new Head Coach even got a chance to work with them. Now the General Manager that handed out those contracts is in the unemployment line, and the Panthers are in Cap Hell forced to pick at the scrap heap.
The problem is for many organizations there is no middle ground. Too many teams try to build contenders through Free Agency, when Super Bowls are won through the Draft. Take the Baltimore Ravens for example. Outside of Anquan Boldin who was acquired through a trade, the core of the team is built around smart drafting. Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Torrey Smith, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis all were drafted by the Ravens. What the Ravens did however, was to pick and choose moderately priced Free Agents to fill out their roster. But the star talent on the team outside of Boldin were all Raven Draft picks. That’s the way it should be, at least in my opinion. Build your core through the draft, and fill holes with reasonably priced Free Agents.
The Dolphins (like many before them) have tried to challenge the system that seems to work. Buying up some of the best Free Agents in this class instead of building from within. It doesn’t matter if the Dolphins are trying to build a contender or not. If it works out for them, and they end up as a contender people like me have egg on their face and their organization looks like solid gold. If not…..well I hope Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin have good references.
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