AFC East: Brandon Marshall

When Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin took over the team two seasons ago, he quickly changed the overall personality to fit his mild-mannered demeanor.

Philbin got rid of boisterous players such as Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis before he coached his first game. Philbin also reluctantly tried the Chad Ochocinco experiment and ended it following Ochocinco's domestic dispute during training camp.

Soon after, it became well known in Miami that you had to be a "Joe Philbin guy" to survive long-term with the Dolphins. That means work hard, stay out of trouble and keep your mouth shut.

Therefore, you rarely hear any trash talking from the Dolphins. I can recall various instances when there were opportunities but players in Miami's locker room passed. The brash New York Jets have tried to bait the Dolphins several times over the past two seasons with no luck. New Orleans Saints linebacker Junior Galette also called out Miami's offensive line following the Saints' win in Week 4. The Dolphins simply shrugged it off in defeat.

"That's not part of our game. We're not trash talkers," Dolphins center Mike Pouncey said of Galette. "We're just playing football. Guys don't like when you play through the whistle."

One of the biggest complaints from Dolphins fans is their team doesn't play with enough fire and energy, especially in must-win situations. There is a small chance Philbin would take in boisterous, trash-talking players such as Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman -- and it is debatable whether that's a detriment or an asset to the Dolphins.

On a scale of red (not allowed), yellow (within reason) or green (go for it), Philbin's stance on trash talking is: Red.
The Miami Dolphins have five draft picks in the first three rounds and more than $40 million of salary-cap room this offseason. If this were a poker game, Miami would hold the most chips at the NFL table.

But the person holding all the cards in Miami often makes Dolphins fans nervous. Embattled general manager Jeff Ireland will be calling the shots for the Dolphins during their most important offseason in recent memory. For better or worse, Ireland's decisions over the next few months will significantly impact Miami's franchise for the next three to five years.

[+] EnlargeJeff Ireland
Steve Mitchell/USA Today SportsGeneral manager Jeff Ireland has the resources this offseason to help make Miami a playoff contender in the near future.
Ireland is a polarizing figure in Miami. He is 20-28 since taking over full time for former Dolphins president Bill Parcells in 2010. Ireland's track record the past three years has been inconsistent, and many Miami fans wanted him out before the start of the 2012 season.

Ireland's free-agent signings have been littered with misses. Last year alone, quarterback David Garrard, cornerback Richard Marshall and receiver Chad Johnson were all free-agent busts. Ireland also has been hit-and-miss in the draft. Some of his good picks include rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and center Mike Pouncey. But Ireland's misses also include tailback Daniel Thomas, receiver Clyde Gates and rookie tight end Michael Egnew. The Koa Misi pick over New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in 2010 also is hard to forget. That poor decision by Ireland only furthered the gap between Miami and its biggest rival.

So is Ireland the right person to manage more than $40 million and 10 total draft picks? His track record proves the Dolphins are taking a risk.

This is a make-or-break year for Ireland, who still has a lot to prove as Miami's general manager. The good news is Ireland is coming off his best draft in Miami. His 2012 picks included Tannehill, starting offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and contributing reserves Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller. This group helped lead Miami to a respectable 7-9 record and provided optimism for the future.

"I was impressed with Ireland this past offseason and they are loaded with picks going forward," said Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. "I would target 2014 to be highly competitive for Miami. It's very achievable."

Of course, all of that is contingent on Ireland making the right calls in 2013.

Ireland's first order of business is taking care of his in-house free agents. The Dolphins have plenty of cap room because many key players are coming off the books. Starters like left tackle Jake Long, leading rusher Reggie Bush, leading receiver Brian Hartline, No. 1 corner Sean Smith and defensive tackle Randy Starks will look to cash in this offseason. These are all tough calls. Miami cannot pay all of them.

It will be up to Ireland, with some input from rookie head coach Joe Philbin, to determine who stays and who goes. Ireland must walk a fine line of paying enough money to keep his own key contributors but still leave enough cap room to chase outside free agents. It will take some shrewd decisions and masterful self-scouting by Ireland. He cannot overrate or overpay his own players, which is a mistake general managers often make.

One of the most important things Ireland must accomplish is getting the right skill players around Tannehill. The rookie quarterback showed a lot of potential in his first year but was hamstrung by limited receivers and tight ends. Tannehill still managed to throw for 3,294 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his first season.

The good news is the wide receiver position is very strong in free agency this year. Free-agent receivers Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace are possibilities for the Dolphins, who have the money to spend. Jennings played under Philbin for several years in Green Bay and knows the West Coast offense. Bowe is a Miami native who could return home, and Wallace has the deep speed Miami needs. Each player has the potential to fit well in Miami's offense and provide a boost for Tannehill.

"Wallace's speed would be ideal for Miami, but I trust him the least," Williamson said of this year's free-agent receivers. "Jennings is the most familiar but I worry that he might be on a slight decline. Bowe is really solid and from Miami. I would sign one and still draft a receiver high."

Tannehill also needs a better receiving tight end. This was a staple in Philbin's offenses in Green Bay, but Miami was limited with that position last year. Aging tight end Anthony Fasano could not stretch the field and is a free agent who may not return.

Following free agency, the Dolphins will enter the draft with a first-round pick (No. 12 overall), two second-round picks and two third-round picks. Miami picked up an additional second-rounder last summer from the Indianapolis Colts via the Vontae Davis trade. The Dolphins also got an extra third-rounder from the Chicago Bears for trading receiver Brandon Marshall. These key picks will be used to plug additional holes on the roster.

These are exciting and promising times for Miami. The Dolphins are in prime position to close the gap with the Patriots in the AFC East and perhaps make a playoff run in 2013. But it will be up to Ireland to wisely spend Miami's immense offseason resources.

Bowe to Miami would have risks, rewards

October, 18, 2012
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Trade rumors are swirling that the Miami Dolphins might be interested in Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe. Keep in mind this is only speculation. Nothing official is coming from the Chiefs or the Dolphins, who are on a bye week. But now that we got that disclaimer out of the way, let’s explore the possibilities of Bowe to Miami. It would be a high-risk, high-reward move for the Dolphins.

Here are pros and cons of a potential trade for Miami:
  • Pros: The Dolphins need a true, No. 1 receiver to take their passing game to the next level. Bowe has proven over his career that he can put up good numbers, despite inconsistent quarterback play in Kansas City. Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has done a great job developing with the thin group of receivers he has. A big, athletic target like Bowe would speed up Tannehill's learning curve even more. The trio of Bowe, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess in the slot could be formidable. The AFC East is wide open with four teams, including Miami (3-3), in a tie for first place. This is a good time for the Dolphins to make a move and push for the playoffs. The Dolphins have plenty of draft capital to trade, including five picks in the first three rounds. Bowe is a Miami native who reportedly wants out of Kansas City.
  • Cons: Bowe is playing on a one-year franchise tag, and there is no guarantee that he would stay with the Dolphins for the long term. The Dolphins have about a half-dozen pending free agents who are important to the team. Players like left tackle Jake Long, tailback Reggie Bush, cornerback Sean Smith, defensive tackle Randy Starks and Hartline all will seek raises and contract extensions this offseason. Trading for Bowe would add his name to the list. Miami can’t keep everyone and may be trading away the future to rent Bowe for 10 games. Bowe also comes with baggage. He was suspended for four games in 2009 for taking a banned weight-loss supplement. Bowe also has been in and out of the doghouse various times in Kansas City and wants a big payday. The Dolphins just traded troubled receiver Brandon Marshall. They also cut Chad Johnson after he got in trouble this summer. Can Miami take in another troubled but talented receiver?

That is the good and the bad of Miami going after Bowe. The Dolphins have to make a decision before the Oct. 30 trade deadline if they’re interested.

Should Miami make this move?
General manager Jeff Ireland said the Miami Dolphins are not waving the white flag on the 2012 season. In fact, Ireland hinted that the team, which just acquired a second-round pick for corner Vontae Davis, might be in the market for an immediate upgrade via trade.

"Everybody looks at draft picks (as if) you have to use them when the draft comes around," Ireland told the Palm Beach Post this week. "I’m not saying that there’s more to come, but I would just tell you that if something more would arise, you have ammunition. And you can use that ammunition any time you want to, now or in the future."

Assuming the Dolphins are looking at wide receivers -- their biggest need -- let’s examine a few possibilities.

Wallace
Wallace
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers

Thoughts: The Steelers already said they are not trading Wallace, and they are an organization that's usually stern in its convictions. Pittsburgh also refuses to negotiate until Wallace joins the team. He reportedly will do so this week. But even if Miami can put together an attractive package of draft picks, the Dolphins couldn't make Wallace one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers with their limited cap room. I don't see it.

Chances: Slim

Bowe
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs

Thoughts: Bowe is a big receiver Miami could use in its West Coast system. Bowe is playing on a one-year franchise tag and could make rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's job a lot easier. Again, with a big name like Bowe, Miami would get hit twice because it would lose quality draft picks and require a big extension the team doesn’t have much room for.

Chances: Slim

Jones
Jones
James Jones, Green Bay Packers

Thoughts: Miami head coach Joe Philbin knows Jones well after coaching him in Green Bay. Jones is a good fit and knows the West Coast offense. He's also expendable as the fourth receiver on Green Bay's depth chart. The Packers are wealthy at receiver and may be willing to part ways with Jones for a nice draft pick.

Chances: Decent

Owens
Terrell Owens, free agent

Thoughts: Owens comes with character issues and is exactly the type of player Philbin doesn't want in his locker room. After trading Brandon Marshall and cutting Chad Johnson, signing Owens would send the wrong message and come off as desperate. Ireland already told reporters he's probably not interested.

Chances: Slim

If Miami goes into the season with this current group, it is going to be a long year for the passing game. I expect the Dolphins to at least field some calls and, at the very least, make some waiver wire pickups. Getting a huge name would be a surprise, although a familiar player like Jones would be realistic.
What did the Brandon Marshall trade, cutting Chad Johnson, starting rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and trading Vontae Davis all have in common?

It’s a clear indication the Miami Dolphins are sacrificing 2012 to build for the future.

The Dolphins are in full rebuild mode this season. That was further confirmed Sunday when Miami traded perhaps its most physically gifted corner -- Davis -- for a second-round pick and a conditional sixth-rounder in 2013 to the Indianapolis Colts.

The trade, like the other aforementioned moves, does nothing to make the Dolphins a better team right now. But it could help them improve next year and beyond.

Miami's coaching staff and front office have avoided using the "rebuild" word this year. But unless general manager Jeff Ireland has a big trick up his sleeve, the team's actions says the Dolphins are more concerned with winning later than right now.

There was a reason linebacker Karlos Dansby lashed out after Johnson was cut -- Miami released its most capable receiver and Dansby knew it. He practiced against Johnson every day. We now see the result, as Miami’s receivers are struggling mightily to make plays and catch the football.

We could see more poor play in the secondary, as well. Miami's pass defense already was shaky with Davis. The Dolphins were 25th against the pass last year and hasn’t looked much better in the preseason. Maybe a young corner like Nolan Carroll will step up, but Carroll doesn’t have the same level of starting experience and physical gifts as Davis.

Solid veterans like Dansby, Reggie Bush, Kevin Burnett and others in Miami's locker room know they only have so many good years in the NFL. Players want to win now, and every year they feel they have a chance to make the playoffs.

But it's the job of the front office also to be realistic with its roster and come to grips with the fact that Miami is a long way away from contending.
Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC East:
  • Miami Dolphins rookie head coach Joe Philbin says he doesn't regret trading Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears this offseason.
Morning take: Philbin did not want to put up with the headache Marshall can bring while trying to establish a new program. But it's clear Philbin could have used Marshall’s talent. Miami’s current group of receivers has little playmaking ability.
Morning take: New England hasn't looked in synch offensively, but this group hasn't received much playing time, either. The Patriots will go into the regular season a little bit rusty due to lack of reps in the preseason.
  • The New York Jets suffered several injuries in Sunday night's preseason game, including to linebacker David Harris (ankle) and tight ends Dustin Keller (hamstring) and Josh Baker (knee).
Morning take: The tight-end injuries are most concerning. Keller is very important and needs to be ready for the Bills in Week 1. Baker may be out for a significant time.
  • Is quarterback Tarvaris Jackson an upgrade over Vince Young for the Buffalo Bills?
Morning take: I’m not big on either as a quarterback. But the Bills must see something in Jackson that they might not see in Young. Their quarterback cuts will be interesting.
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The new regime of the Miami Dolphins is serious about character in the team's locker room. That was the reason the team traded Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, and it’s the same reason the Dolphins released Chad Johnson on Sunday, about 24 hours after his arrest on a misdemeanor domestic-abuse charge.

Johnson
The decision was a swift one. Johnson left jail Sunday morning and the Dolphins had had enough of this distraction by Sunday evening. Guilt or innocence has not been determined -- but it was clear the Dolphins were not willing to put up with the distraction that would have come with keeping Johnson around the next several weeks. Johnson is a 34-year-old receiver playing on a one-year contract. He already had little room for error.

By cutting Johnson, Miami’s new regime -- led by rookie head coach Joe Philbin -- sends a stern message that character matters. The Dolphins put up with Marshall's issues for years before trading him to the Chicago Bears this offseason. Johnson, who had his first legal run-in at the NFL level, was cut after one transgression.

This is another disappointing crash and burn for Johnson. He had the worst season of his career with the New England Patriots in 2011 and didn’t make it out of training camp with the Dolphins this year. Maybe someone else will give Johnson a chance if he's able to resolve his legal problems.

But Miami is moving on without Johnson. The Dolphins are rebuilding under a first-year head coach and need to set a tone that character issues will not be tolerated.

Consider that message delivered.
You knew this was coming. With HBO’s "Hard Knocks" around, the main concern from a football standpoint was that someone would get exposed.

It didn't take long for HBO to find its first goat in the premier episode Tuesday: Miami Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis.

Davis
The former first-round pick has had a poor start to training camp. Davis ended 2011 on a high note with a string of good games but had his starting job quickly taken this summer by Richard Marshall after Davis had some bad practices. But HBO's all-access, behind-the-scenes look at Davis magnified the situation even more.

Davis came off on the show as lazy, immature and at times out of shape. He complained in the opening practices that he was "gassed" and wanted to hide it from the coaching staff. That shows lack of dedication in the offseason. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin also complained how Davis curiously schedules bathroom breaks in the middle of practice when he should be getting reps or doing drills. This is not a good sign of professionalism.

The knock on Davis has always been his lack of maturity and focus. Last year he got suspended one game by Miami for getting into an altercation with former teammate Brandon Marshall in practice. Marshall was not suspended, which is an indication Davis started the situation.

This is a big fourth year for Davis, 24. The Dolphins need all their young players to step up, especially in the secondary. Miami had the 25th-rated pass defense last season. Marshall, a veteran free-agent signing, has been more professional and consistent in training camp. First-year Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle is looking for players he can count on, and Davis hasn't proved that up to this point.
The first workout is booked for free-agent receiver Chad Ochocinco. According to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports, the former New England Patriot will work out with the Miami Dolphins next week.

The AFC East blog brought up the topic of Ochocinco being a possible target for Miami last week. Here are some additional thoughts on the reported workout:
  • I think the workout is a solid idea. I've been saying that talent and depth at wide receiver have been major issues for the Dolphins since they traded Brandon Marshall this offseason. The Dolphins haven’t found anyone to replace Marshall’s production (81 catches, 1,214 yards in 2011) and surprisingly skipped over receiver after receiver in the draft. There is no harm in a workout. Considering Miami’s need, the Dolphins rightfully should be one of the first teams to see what Ochocinco has in the tank.
  • On the flip side, you wonder if this reported interest in Ochocinco sends mixed messages from the organization. All we've heard from new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland is that you don’t need big-name receivers in a West Coast offense and they are fine with the group they have. Going after Ochocinco seems to contradict both. Sure, Ochocinco is not the star receiver he was a few years ago, but he is a big name, and he carries star power in the locker room. The Dolphins seemed to be going against that when they traded Marshall. In fact, if they wanted to keep a high-maintenance receiver, at least Marshall is still a productive Pro Bowler. Looking to replace Marshall with Ochocinco would seem like a weird exchange in terms of both talent and message.
  • Finally, I have questions of whether Ochocinco could fit into a West Coast offense. The scheme requires timing, precision passing and crisp routes. Ochocinco has never been a disciplined receiver. That is what got him cut by the Patriots after one season. Ochocinco is at his best when he’s allowed to freelance and use his athleticism, which was often the case with the Cincinnati Bengals. Freelancing in the West Coast offense doesn’t work and often leads to turnovers, because quarterbacks are taught to throw to spots and receivers are expected to be there. Overall, I like the idea of Miami working out Ochocinco because there is certainly a need there. But I think other teams are a better fit.

Show and prove: Brian Hartline

June, 8, 2012
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We continue our series on players in the AFC East who have a lot to prove in 2012. Next we take a look at the Miami Dolphins' No. 1 receiver.

Brian Hartline, Dolphins

2011 stats: 35 receptions, 549 yards, one touchdown

What he must prove: Hartline, by default, must prove he is a legitimate No. 1 receiver. Miami traded Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears for two third-round picks this offseason. The Dolphins didn't take a receiver high in the draft or make any significant additions in free agency. That leaves Hartline trying to make the jump from a complementary receiver to a No. 1 threat. Hartline is sneaky athletic and is able to get behind a defense when he's not the primary focus. He played off Marshall well. But can Hartline be the guy when he's facing an opponent's No. 1 cornerback and possibly double teams week in and week out?

Walker's 2012 outlook: I'm not optimistic about this one. Hartline is a nice player and someone you want on your team. But asking him to be the first option in Miami's new West Coast offense is asking a lot. Dolphins rookie head coach Joe Philbin says you don't need star receivers to run his system. But the weapons Philbin had in Green Bay (Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, tight end Jermichael Finley) are not slouches. Hartline caught 31, 43 and 35 passes his first three seasons. Maybe those numbers go up some. But I would be surprised if Hartline suddenly explodes for 80 receptions and 1,200 yards -- the type of production Miami lost with Marshall.
The New England Patriots have so much depth at receiver that they could afford to release a six-time Pro Bowler. On Thursday, the reigning AFC champions cut bait with receiver Chad Ochocinco.

But the Patriots are the exception in the AFC East. Receiver is a big position of need throughout the division, and every team still could use an upgrade.

Could Ochocinco still land in the AFC East? Let's take a look at how he would fit with the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.

Bills

Why Ocho would fit: The Bills need a proven No. 2 receiver, and that's a role I think Ochocinco could handle. He is no longer a No. 1 receiver, and Steve Johnson has that job in Buffalo. But Ochocinco was never a part-time player who could come off the bench and produce. That was proved in New England. Buffalo has a wide-open offense that needs as many talented receivers as possible. Ochocinco isn't as bad as his stats showed last year. He just never fully grasped the precision system with the Patriots. Ochocinco could help the Bills' depth.

Why Ocho wouldn't fit: The Bills are focused, have good chemistry and are on a mission to make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Bringing in the circus that comes with Ochocinco is risky. Buffalo took a chance with embattled receiver Terrell Owens a few years ago and it didn't pan out as expected. This would be a similar acquisition. Besides, Steve Johnson already has maturity issues with his touchdown celebrations and Ochocinco is probably the worst influence you will find in that regard.

Interest scale (1 to 10, 10 being the highest): 5

Dolphins

Why Ocho would fit: Ochocinco makes his offseason home in Miami, which makes it a natural fit. The Dolphins also are desperate for talent at receiver. A case can be made that Ochocinco, even at this stage of his career, is better than any receiver Miami has on its roster. Ochocinco also would be a cheap alternative, and that's important considering Miami is fairly tight against the cap. Miami is on HBO's "Hard Knocks" this summer and Ochocinco's personality would certainly add to the show.

Why Ocho wouldn't fit: The Dolphins got rid of Brandon Marshall because the new coaching staff wanted to clean out the locker room of players with character issues. Ochocinco is more fun-loving than a trouble-maker, but rookie coach Joe Philbin has enough on his plate and doesn't need the extra things Ochocinco brings to the table. Besides, trading Marshall but adding Ochocinco would seem a little contradictory and certainly not equal in terms of a talent swap. Marshall caught 81 passes for 1,214 yards last year and was the Pro Bowl MVP. Going after Ochocinco to replace Marshall would open the Dolphins up for criticism and questions about where Miami's program is headed.

Interest scale: 5

Jets

Why Ocho would fit: The Jets had some interest in Ochocinco in recent years but the Patriots got him first. Even Jets Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis publicly pushed for Ochocinco to come to New York. It's years later and the Jets could still use another productive receiver. Ochocinco isn't the player he used to be, but he could take the pressure off No. 1 receiver Santonio Holmes and buy time for rookie second-round pick Stephen Hill. The Jets are used to the extra media attention. They acquired Tim Tebow this offseason, and bringing in Ochocinco would seem mild in comparison.

Why Ocho wouldn't fit: As I mentioned, the Jets would add more to the circus atmosphere. The Jets have enough pressure as it is to bounce back from a disappointing 8-8 season in 2011. Ochocinco also is not good at run blocking, which is an important part of New York's offense. The Jets will "ground and pound" teams a lot this year, and Ochocinco is not one to mix it up with defensive backs. Still, I see more good than bad for Ochocinco in New York. If I had to pick one AFC East team that's best for Ochocinco, it would be the Jets.

Interest scale: 7
The Miami Dolphins are the final installment of our AFC East offseason report cards.

What I liked: Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland received a lot of heat this offseason. The best thing he could do to relieve the pressure was to have a solid draft. By most accounts, he accomplished that goal. First-round pick Ryan Tannehill is the quarterback of the future and second-rounder Jonathan Martin is the right tackle of the present. Miami also has high hopes for local University of Miami products Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon and rookie tight end Michael Egnew. The Dolphins could be competitive if they get instant production from the draft. Miami didn't make a significant impact in free agency, but nickel corner Richard Marshall should help.

What I didn't like: I have a lot of questions about what Miami is doing on offense. It started with getting rid of No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall. I understand the character concerns, but the Dolphins should’ve had a better plan to replace Marshall. Instead, the Dolphins didn’t do much and now have the one of the worst receiver groups in the NFL. Brian Hartline (35 receptions in 2011) will be asked to be the No. 1 receiver. That’s not a good match for a West Coast offense, which relies heavily on precision passing. Potential starting quarterback David Garrard also has a lot to prove after missing football in 2011. Miami’s new-look defense should be solid but there are questions at safety.

Grade: C

Are Dolphins set at receiver?

April, 29, 2012
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The first-round pick was obvious. Everyone knew the Miami Dolphins loved former Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the No. 8 overall pick, which went according to form.

But after that, I was curious when Miami was going to take a wide receiver in the draft. It didn’t happen in the second round. It didn’t happen in the third, fourth or fifth rounds.

Miami finally drafted a pair of receivers in the sixth and seventh rounds. The Dolphins selected B.J. Cunningham of Michigan State and Rishard Matthews of Nevada.

"I think we drafted a couple good players that we think could ascend," Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said. "But we weren’t going to reach. That’s not my philosophy."

Does Miami have enough to be effective at wide receiver next season? Here is a look at the players currently on the roster.

According to rookie head coach Joe Philbin, the West Coast offense doesn’t need a star, No. 1 target. But projected starters Brian Hartline and Devone Bess and possibly Legadu Naanee could be put in roles bigger than what they are used to.

Miami traded Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears in the offseason. The Dolphins expect to throw the ball a lot with a new West Coast offense, probably more than last year, despite a group with a lot to prove.

"The more guys you can get into different spots to create mismatches for the defense, the better you’re going to be,” Philbin said. "I don’t think we lock in."

With the draft complete and free agency all but done, this is probably the receiver group Miami rolls with next season. Is this group good enough to produce in 2012?

Dolphins add a receiver

April, 17, 2012
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Wide receiver is one of the biggest needs for the Miami Dolphins entering next week's draft. They addressed the need Tuesday by signing veteran receiver Legedu Naanee.

The former Carolina Panthers receiver caught 44 passes for 467 yards last season. Naanee will be added to a thin group of receivers that includes projected starters Brian Hartline and Davone Bess.

Dolphins rookie head coach Joe Philbin is installing a new West Coast offense in Miami that doesn't focus on any one receiver. The Dolphins traded talented Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, in part, because they didn't want one player dominating the football.

Naanee also spent four years with the San Diego Chargers and caught 107 receptions in that span.

Updating AFC East salary cap

April, 2, 2012
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NFL.com has the updated AFC East salary cap numbers as of late Friday. A lot has happened through two weeks of free agency.

Let's take a look of where the division teams currently stand.

Buffalo Bills

Cap room: $9,715,709

Analysis: Buffalo entered the offseason with a ton of cap room and spent it primarily on its pass-rush. Defensive end Mario Williams became the highest-paid player in Bills history with $100 million contract and fellow defensive end Mark Anderson also reportedly got $27.5 million. Bills general manager Buddy Nix says the team will spend to the cap this offseason. They still have room to make more signings. But all of the top free agents are gone.

Miami Dolphins

Cap room: $6,470,157

Analysis: I'm still scratching my head how Miami arguably has the least amount of star power on its roster, yet remains the most cap-strapped team in the division. Jake Long and Karlos Dansby are big names. But other than that, where is all the money going? The Dolphins traded Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall and cut leading tackler Yeremiah Bell to save cap room. They're also not paying for a franchise quarterback. Miami could use free agency to help fill the right side of the offensive line. But there's not much cash left to make any significant signings.

New England Patriots

Cap room: $9,944,664

Analysis: The Patriots are quietly bargain hunting in free agency, and many of their moves makes sense. Signings like receiver Brandon Lloyd, and defensive ends Trevor Scott and Jonathan Fanene were very affordable. Chad Ochocinco and Tom Brady's restructures gave the Patriots even more flexibility. I thought the franchise tag of about $9.4 million to Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker could hurt New England this offseason. But the Patriots have plenty of room to be fine with that number if Welker and the team do not work out an extension.

New York Jets

Cap room: $7,692,283

Analysis: Several restructures and quarterback Mark Sanchez's contract extension has put the Jets back on decent footing this offseason. Safety LaRon Landry and backup quarterback Tim Tebow were New York's big acquisitions. It also appears the team will retain veteran starting linebacker Bart Scott. The Jets are one of those teams where you're not sure if the arrow is pointing up or down in 2012. This is a club just one year removed from the AFC Championship Game. But last year's 8-8 season may be a sign of where this group currently stands.

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