A Plan in Place

The early days of free agency might have suggested the Dolphins were merely dumping salaries while at the same time trying to stockpile as many draft choices as possible. But the signing of linebacker Joey Porter on Tuesday certainly wouldn't follow that logic. So what, then, is the game plan?

Head coach Cam Cameron and GM Randy Mueller have yet to address the media since the start of free agency last Friday, but the truth is they probably wouldn't reveal what their intentions are anyway.

The signing of Porter, though, proved that it's not just about getting younger and cheaper for the Dolphins.

What it is about is finding the right players at the right prices.

Look at the moves the Dolphins have made in the last week and you'll see a pattern here. That pattern is making sure the impact the player can provide matches his salary.

That clearly wasn't the case with offensive linemen Seth McKinney, Bennie Anderson and Jeno James, and that's why they're all gone. It wasn't the case with defensive end Kevin Carter, whose price tag was too high for the contributions he made last season. Carter clearly is a good player, just not good enough to keep at his scheduled salary.

The Joey Harrington move was a slam dunk because he showed last year what he had shown in four seasons in Detroit, some big-time ability at times and horrific decision-making at other times. He was as good as gone from the moment last season ended, and his scheduled roster bonus probably wouldn't have made a difference regardless.

The trade of Wes Welker actually was a brilliant move. Look, we know he was an immensely popular player in Miami, but was that really because he was such a tremendous player or was a good part of it the fact that Welker is an average-looking guy who beat the odds and made himself into a solid NFL player.

The truth is Welker wasn't and never will be a difference-maker. He's a tremendous complementary players, but the Dolphins right now are more in need of impact players than they are role players.

New England was prepared to sign Welker to a lucrative offer sheet, which the Dolphins wouldn't have matched anyway, instead taking a second-round pick as compensation. What the Dolphins did with the trade is get an extra seventh-round pick in exchange for saving New England some money because they didn't have to sign Welker to as big a contract once the deal was consummated.

So, yes, unequivocally, the Welker trade was a great move by the Dolphins.

As for the termination of Randy McMichael's contract, a lot of it had to do with a roster bonus he was scheduled to get on Wednesday. But the Dolphins wouldn't have let him go had McMichael become an impact player after five seasons. McMichael was never that guy.

He's a good, solid pass-catching tight end, and at times he looks like a guy who belongs in the Pro Bowl.

But he's not a great blocker, he'll commit a bad penalty here and there, and he also will get a case of the dropsies too often. In other words, a good player but not a difference-maker and not somebody who deserved the kind of money he was scheduled to get.

The Dolphins now have lost seven players -- Anderson, Harrington, Welker, McMichael, James, Sammy Morris and Damion McIntosh -- who started at least one game for them on offense last season.

That seems like an awfully high number. But considering the way the Dolphins offense performed last year, is that really such a bad thing?

The offense needed a lot of fixing after Cameron took over as head coach, and that's what the Dolphins are in the process of doing. It meant there needs to be a lot of new talent on offense, and that means replacing a lot of familiar faces. That's what's happening right now.

On defense, we all knew the defensive line needed to get younger, and that's why we have seen Carter and Dan Wilkinson let go. But the addition of Porter more than compensates for any loss so far.

Really, as of today, don't think the Dolphins defense is better than it was at the end of last season? Offensively, it's not better because the Dolphins have yet to replace all the guys they lost.

But there will be new faces between now and the start of training camp. And the idea is to make sure those guys are better and bring better value than what was there last year.

That is the plan.

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