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Andy Cohen: Busy Time, Plenty Of Opinions

Posted Apr 4, 2013

Cleaning out the clutter of my mental file cabinet with April here and the NFL Draft beginning to come into clear focus.



Before I get into football, I have remained on the sideline during the Dolphins' push for stadium renovations. But the more I evaluate, the more I consider the positives and negatives of both sides, it becomes apparent that this is almost a no-brainer.

The stadium desperately needs these improvements to keep up with the Jones’ (literally, I mean Jerry Jones). The area deserves to be on the regular Super Bowl rotation. The Dolphins are willing to put up more than half of the revenues associated with these renovations.

This is no behind-the-scenes deception. This is a concrete, well thought out plan that screams of a win-win scenario. Here’s hoping the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County overwhelmingly support this initiative. It just makes too much sense no matter how you look at it.

The new logo. I like it. It is sleek and much more modern and, to be truthful, the Dolphin wearing a helmet became, well, old hat. I know long-time fans like to hold on to tradition, but there are times when tradition is worth breaking and this new logo is long overdue. Having said all of that, the bottom line is turning this franchise into a consistent winner and the logo won’t have anything to do with that. Still, it’s a nice refreshing change.

• The free agent scorecard is far from complete. But how can you not be impressed with what the Dolphins have already done? They have been bold. They have been meticulous. They have been sensible. They have structured these agreements in a prudent manner to afford them the luxury of continuing to have the financial resources moving forward.

You can almost envision a massive checklist in the mind of General Manager Jeff Ireland. One-by-one he has been taking care of the team’s needs. A big-play receiver. A couple of impactful linebackers. A pass-catching tight end. A cornerback with takeaway skills.

Ireland deserves plenty of credit for being both aggressive and smart. He has clearly upgraded this football team in several important areas.

When you surf the internet, when you evaluate all the lists of the top free agents available, several things stand out.

The Dolphins have signed more highly rated free agents than any team in the league. According to NFL.com, the Dolphins signed four of the top 20 free agents.

The Dolphins signed the most coveted free agent on the market in wide receiver Mike Wallace. Yes, he came with a huge price tag. But the Dolphins had to pay what they did in order to get him. They had to move quickly. This is a player in the prime of his career and at a position where the Dolphins had a significant need. Makes sense on every front.

The Dolphins signed the top inside linebacker (Dannell Ellerbe), the top tight end (Dustin Keller) and the second-rated cornerback (Brent Grimes).

The Dolphins re-signed some of their own, which has to count in the big picture, especially when Matt Moore is one of the top quarterbacks available, Brian Hartline is one of the top receivers and Chris Clemons one of the top safeties. Then there is Randy Starks, who received the franchise designation, assuring he comes back for another season.

Tell me a team in the NFL that has done more. This is still a team with imperfections, but Ireland has done a masterful job in addressing many of them. And, as I mention below, the draft is still to come.

• Some thoughts on Brent Grimes. The Falcons thought enough of this talented cornerback to franchise him a year ago. After earning a spot in the Pro Bowl in 2011, he was forced to endure a torn Achilles that quickly ended his 2012 season. Sometimes an injury opens the door for another team and that’s exactly what happened with the Dolphins.

Is it a risk? Sure it is. Whenever a player tries to come back from a serious injury, there is always risk. But Grimes is already well on his way to 100 percent, and the upside of this player is off the charts. One thing I really like is his ability to force turnovers, an area where the Dolphins fell far short last season.

• The Dolphins have taken care of so many needs in free agency, they now find themselves in a position to draft “the best player available” regardless of position. With those five golden picks in the first three rounds, the possibilities are numerous: Trade up. Trade down. Stay put. Package draft picks. Load up on a strength. Capitalize on a weakness. So many viable options only because free agency has been so productive.

• This is just my opinion, but I would like to see the Dolphins strongly consider adding additional speed to their offense. You say the Dolphins already signed Mike Wallace? Why go for another speed receiver? Because you can never have too many of those. Because the best offenses in the league have several big-play options. Because those types of players can win games for you in so many ways.

• Wouldn’t mind a young tight end either. Or another pass rusher.

I like everything Ryan Tannehill is doing this offseason. The community involvement. The way he is searching for ways to get better. The encouraging words he is speaking. The commitment. This is clearly a player who wants and expects to take the next step in 2013. With the experience of starting 16 NFL games under his belt, along with an entire offseason to refine his skills, I can’t wait to see Tannehill Year Two.

• And finally, are you ready for some football? Dolphins vs. Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game is now only four short months away. Can’t come soon enough.
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