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NFL Owners Meetings Day 2: Business Continues For Hickey; Other Notes

Posted Mar 25, 2014

Free agency keeps Miami’s GM focusing on building a winner.

ORLANDO – Two weeks into free agency, Miami Dolphins General Manager Dennis Hickey has found his footing in his new role and established a track record and a philosophy.

“Our approach really comes down to placing an individual value on the player and it’s kind of the same way we approach the draft,” said Hickey, who spent 18 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a number of different roles in personnel. “Obviously, we have a big picture as we go into free agency and Dawn Aponte did a great job with that in managing the cap and what we had to spend in cash versus cap and all those issues. But the main thing for us is placing the right individual value on a player and working towards it that way.”

Along with re-signing two Pro Bowlers on defense in cornerback Brent Grimes and defensive tackle Randy Starks, Hickey attracted five legitimate free agents – three on defense and two on offense. He is proud of bringing in Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs, guard Shelley Smith and cornerback Cortland Finnegan, both formerly of the St. Louis Rams, former Houston Texans defensive tackle Earl Mitchell and safety Louis Delmas, who played his first five seasons with the Detroit Lions.

Hickey managed to land Albert on the very first day of free agency, along with Mitchell, and he re-signed Starks the next afternoon. Grimes had been inked a little more than a week earlier and Delmas was signed the night before free agency because he was a street free agent. He stressed how important bringing back Grimes and Starks were for the sake of continuity and appreciates the balance they bring with the new additions on defense.

“Louis Delmas, Cortland Finnegan and Earl Mitchell are all tough, competitive players that bring a lot of passion for the game,” Hickey said. “We’re excited to add them to our group and to an already existing group with a lot of good football players.”

FORMER DOLPHINS CB VINCENT HIGH ON GRIMES

Fresh off of being named NFL executive vice president of football operations, former Dolphins cornerback Troy Vincent took some time to weigh in on the season Grimes had in 2013 and what he means to Miami’s defense going forward.

“One, coming off of what used to be a significant injury (a torn Achilles’ tendon) and any injury of that caliber is significant,” said Vincent, who played 15 seasons in the NFL and was a five-time Pro Bowler after being a first-round draft choice of Miami’s in 1992. “It’s an accomplishment itself to fight through that pain and to get the confidence back in your mind and body that you can still play.

“He competed in a division and a conference that’s got some pretty good players and typically it’s hard gaining that credibility when you’re not on a team that’s considered a contender. He stayed focused, he stayed healthy but he competed week in and week out in spite of all the different dynamics.”

Vincent finished his career with 47 interceptions and 14 of them came with the Dolphins over his first four seasons. He spent the next nine seasons with the Philadelphia, where he was selected to all five of his Pro Bowls, and finished his career with the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins.

After Vincent retired, someone went back through all of his game film and determined that he only allowed somewhere around seven touchdown catches by an opposing receiver. Grimes did not allow any through all 16 games last season, which also impressed Vincent.

“I know how hard that is to do that because of the consistency and the focus that it takes on each play,” he said. “And to do it in this era with the high-powered passing offenses is tough because the play that a defensive back relaxes on when you don’t think the ball is coming to you because of the down and the distance – boom, that’s when it happens. So you have to know when to got for the pick, when to go for the breakup and when to just go for the tackle, and he did all of those things. He put all of those things together and when you have that you give the coach, your teammates and your team a chance to win.”

ALBERT LEFT HIS MARK IN KANSAS CITY

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was sorry to lose Albert to Miami after seeing how effective he was on that offensive line.

“He was a legit All-Pro who will be great in the locker room and he’s a great man and a great person,” Reid said. “He’ll be good for all the young guys to learn from. He’s a left tackle that the coach won’t have to worry about. You just put him out there and let him do his thing. He’s good in the run and the pass game and he’s familiar with a zone scheme.”