Dolphins Could Be Very Active in Free Agency

A strong case can be made that no team suffered a much from the lockout as the Dolphins. Instead of being able to bring in their draft class and an experienced quarterback to challenge incumbent Chad Henne during the usual OTAs and a full training camp, the Dolphins will be among the many teams doing things on the fly.

Dolphins owner Steve Ross has been active in free agency the past two springs. Last year he opened his checkbook to help the team acquire inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

This year, Ross has indicated he will be willing to spend again as general manager Jeff Ireland goes shopping in some very crowded and chaotic aisles.

"I think we have a good young squad," Ross told The Miami Herald recently at the Atlanta owners meetings. "We'll have to see how we do with free agency, rounding out the roster. We have a lot of work to do."

Obviously, coming off two straight 7-9 seasons, the Dolphins must significantly improve if they want to return to the playoffs for the first time since Tony Sparano's inaugural season in South Florida.

Also, Ross has made it clear this offseason he wants a more exciting, offensive-oriented on-field product after the Dolphins went 1-7 at home, losing nine of their past 10 regular season home games.

Still, Ross maintained a stance of public optimism while attending meetings to end the lockout.

"With our nucleus, we have a great team," Ross said. "So a few added parts can maybe take us over the top."

Those parts could also include a running back with more breakaway speed than free agents Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams showed as well as an accomplished pass rusher to share time at outside linebacker with second-year man Koa Misi.

There has been much lobbying on the part of Plaxico Burress about a possible career resumption in South Florida, where the controversial ex-Giant maintains a home. But sources have said that interest remains one-sided as the Dolphins feel set at wide receiver.

Ireland has been typically cautious in his recent comments about his priorities in the free agent and trade market, but it's certain his has a plan ready to be executed as soon as the bell rings.

His boss, after flirting at the end of last season with a coaching change, won't stand in his way if he wants to bring in more proven talent.

Remember, Ross bought the Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium for $1.1 billion from H. Wayne Huizenga after the 2008 season. He wants this to work more than anyone in the team's long-frustrated fan base.

"I probably have more money invested in the team than any owner in the league," Ross told the Herald. "But I didn't buy it to see how much money I could make. Miami wants a winner, and so do I. Hopefully, we can get there. It's not as easy as I thought."

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