NFL Nation: Jeff Fuller
Binns had a solid spring and made several plays during the first week of training camp. He was the early favorite for the No. 4 receiver job behind starters Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and slot receiver Brandon Gibson. Binns caught 24 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown during his split time last season with Miami and the Cincinnati Bengals.
With Binns out, the backup receiver positions are wide open. The Dolphins are expected to keep five or six receivers on their 53-man roster. Wallace, Hartline and Gibson are the only locks, leaving as many as three spots remaining.
Here are the early candidates:
No. 1: Marvin McNutt
Skinny: McNutt has made the most big plays of all the backup receivers in camp, including Binns. McNutt now has the inside track to become one of Miami's top reserves at receiver.
No. 2: Rishard Matthews
Skinny: Matthews surprised Miami last year as a seventh-round draft pick. But a recent camp injury will result in missed time and put him behind the rest of the group.
No. 3: Jeff Fuller
Skinny: Binns' injury opens up a golden opportunity for a player like Fuller. He has good size and is a former college teammate of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. However, Fuller remains inconsistent in camp.
No. 4: Brian Tyms
Skinny: He's a raw talent who flashed in the spring but has disappeared so far in training camp. Unless he produces big in preseason games, Tyms could be a practice-squad option.
No. 5: Jasper Collins
Skinny: The Dolphins like his ability to return kicks. But Collins hasn't done much in training camp as a receiver. That's probably not enough to make the 53-man roster.
Other candidates: Kenny Stafford, Chad Bumphis, Andrell Smith.
Most significant move: Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, head coach Joe Philbin and the rest of his coaching staff warned their wide receivers that they needed to step up. This is Miami's weakest area, and week after week, receivers dropped balls and failed to make plays. Still, it was surprising that Miami cut two receivers of significance: Clyde Gates and Roberto Wallace. Both were on the bubble, but at least one was expected to make the cut -- especially on a receiver-deprived team. The Dolphins also released fellow receivers Chris Hogan, B.J. Cunningham and Jeff Fuller. The Dolphins said in the spring that they liked their receivers group; clearly, those opinions changed after training camp and the preseason.
Onward and upward: Miami made two free-agent additions to help the team’s depth at linebacker this offseason: Jamaal Westerman and Gary Guyton. Both players had starting experience and had played in the AFC East. But neither fit well with Miami’s new 4-3 defense. The Dolphins decided to cut their losses and not take either on their 53-man roster. There’s a good chance other teams will be looking for veteran linebackers, and due to their experience, both have a chance to land elsewhere.
What's next: Miami should be one of the busiest teams in free agency and scanning waivers. The Dolphins are rebuilding and need a lot of upgrades and depth. Wide receiver and safety are two positions Miami certainly will have its eye on. The Dolphins have a long way to go to make their roster into a contender. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill needs some assistance in his first season. So expect more changes in Miami before its Week 1 game against the Houston Texans.
So what's next for Miami’s passing game? That is the big question facing first-year Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin.
Here is a look at Miami’s remaining receivers:
- Legedu Naanee
- Brian Hartline
- Davone Bess
- Roberto Wallace
- Julius Pruitt
- Clyde Gates
- Rishard Matthews
- Jeff Fuller
- B.J. Cunningham
- Chris Hogan
- Marlon Moore
It's not a star-studded group -- but it's what the Dolphins are left with after cutting Johnson. The Dolphins clearly didn’t feel the 34-year-old veteran was worth the headache and distraction he brought to the locker room.
But someone from this group must step up. Hartline, Naanee and Bess are the most proven; they will get the first chance. After that, younger receivers like Wallace, Pruitt and Gates have a chance to finally live up to their potential.
The Dolphins set an example of character over talent by cutting Johnson. But it’s a decision Miami also has to live with on the field.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Ernest pointed out via Facebook a 2003 fan Q&A in which Bill Walsh said he regretted trading a draft choice the 49ers could have used on Mike Singletary. I'll include the pertinent portion here:
Wyn Morgan, Wales: Bill, as a fan of the Niners since '83 some 6,000 miles away from San Francisco in Wales, I have the following question for you: Looking back from the time you took the Niner coaching job in '79, if you were able to go back in time and do one thing differently -- it could be a play call in a game, a personnel move or whatever -- what would the one thing you'd do differently be?
Bill Walsh: We had an opportunity to draft Mike Singletary. We traded that choice to the Chicago Bears, who then drafted Mike Singletary, who became a Hall of Fame football player -- one of the great linebackers of all-time. So, he was there for our bidding. But, on the other hand, with that trade, we drafted two outstanding players -- Michael Carter and Jeff Fuller -- who were Super Bowl champions. But, I do wish -- as I look back -- that Mike Singletary would have been a part of the 49er organization.The last part of that response from Walsh jumps out. Singletary was entering his first season as an NFL assistant coach -- with the Ravens, not the 49ers -- when Walsh made the statement. Walsh presumably wasn't referring to anything Singletary might accomplish in coaching, although Singletary did seek out Walsh for pointers and the two developed a bond.
It's interesting to me that Walsh would point to the decision against drafting Singletary as his single biggest regret during his 49ers tenure. Of course, there weren't many regrets from which to choose. Walsh made the right moves most of the time.