Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Miami Dolphins made the biggest splash
on the first day of free agency, signing two of the best players available in
speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace and Super Bowl winning linebacker Dannell
The Dolphins, once one of the NFL's marquee franchises when Don Shula roamed
the sidelines, are afterthoughts these days, supporting players to the Tom
Brady and Bill Belichick show in the AFC East.
And the Fish haven't even been a Pete Postlethwaite- or J.K. Simmons-type
buttress to the Patriots' empire. It's been more like a Washington Generals to
Harlem Globetrotters kind of relationship with New England taking six straight
and nearly 80 percent of the games in the series dating back a decade.
There was at least a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel when Miami
finished 7-9 in 2012, the franchise's first season after the nondescript Tony
Sparano-era. Former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was
solid if unspectacular in his first year as the Dolphins' mentor and rookie
quarterback Ryan Tannehill progressed as the season wore on, showing the
ceiling a No. 8 overall pick should.
One thing was clear, however, the Dolphins were no longer the kings in South
Florida. The beautiful weather is always a problem. A mediocre product may
allow you to hold up in a Northeast corridor city but there is just too much
to do in and around South Beach.
Thousands of empty seats at Sun Life Stadium proved apathy had set in for a
city which also claims LeBron James and the NBA champion Miami Heat as its
While it's true Tannehill needed help at the skill positions, especially
outside the numbers where Brian Hartline and Davone Bess were productive at
times, but certainly no field-stretchers. It's also very true that the
Dolphins had to get their fans back on board with a few high-profile moves.
Wallace is the very definition on a home run hitter, a 4.33 speed guy who can
creep up on a defensive back quicker than a hiccup and get over the top in a
blink on an eye. He was exactly what Miami wanted and the Dolphins wasted
little time dipping into their $31 million of cap space by signing the former
Steeler to a five-year, $65 million contract with a gaudy $30 million
"We are pleased to reach an agreement with Mike Wallace," said Dolphins
general manager Jeff Ireland. "He has a unique skill set which we believe will
be a welcomed addition to our offense. We are looking forward to his
contributions to the team."
Originally selected by the Steelers in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft
out of Mississippi, Wallace had 235 receptions for 4,042 yards and 32
touchdowns over his four-year tenure in Pittsburgh. He was also named to the
Pro Bowl in 2011.
Wallace isn't Jerry Rice, however. He doesn't run great routes, has average
hands and isn't all that versatile. Basically he's not a $30 million dollar
receiver and unfortunately for Miami, it will find that out sooner rather than
Ellerbe, who signed a five-year, $35 million deal, is a nice, ascending
player and the one guy the world champion Baltimore Ravens really wanted to
keep. He was a key member of the Ravens' defensive unit during its recent
Super Bowl run, finishing second on the team with 92 tackles while adding 4
That said, the Georgia product isn't exactly Ray Lewis in his prime and
you could make a strong argument that Ellerbe has never even played up to the
level of a Karlos Dansby, who had to be cut by the Dolphins after they backed
up the Brink's truck in front of their two new "stars" on Tuesday.
Over 16 games last season, Dansby racked up 134 tackles and one sack, although
to be fair he is 31 and had a gaudy cap number of $8.575 million for 2013 so
you can certainly understand Ireland's thought process.
Additionally, the Dolphins re-signed safety Chris Clemons and inked former
Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler on Tuesday, players who should prove to be
Here's the bad news, though. Free agency is just one spoke in the wheel in the
process of building a team and it certainly lasts longer than 24 hours.
Miami already had to release linebacker Kevin Burnett along with Dansby and
lost a solid tight end in Anthony Fasano. The 'Phins are also on the verge of
having to replace their starting left tackle, Jake Long, as well as their best
cover corner, Sean Smith, and a very versatile running back in Reggie Bush.
Being "winners" on the first day of free agency is a paper championship, one
which rarely turns into a Lombardi Trophy.
The Sports Network