It's very likely that the NFLPA is ready to agree to the new CBA, meaning our beloved Miami Dolphins will immediately embark on the free agent frenzy, the likes of which we've never seen before. So buckle up, it's going to be an insane whirlwind-like ride!
With all this said... which impact free agent should be the top FA target for Miami in 2011? Several names come to mind: CB Nnamdi Asomugha (OAK), DE Charles Johnson (CAR), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG), DE Cullen Jenkins (GB), ILB Nick Barnett (GB), RB Reggie Bush (NO), etc... Any of these players would be an immediate upgrade at their respective positions in the Dolphins line-up, but none of them should be considered the top FA prospect. Why? Simple, a lot of these players are entering that performance plateau age of ~30+ (with the exception of Ahmad Bradshaw, 25) and will command huge multi-year contracts, that they'll likely never fulfill anyway. Furthermore, it's rumored that Bradshaw's much more likely to remain a Giant than allow another team to sign him away.
The answer: RB DeAngelo Williams (CAR). A speedy, elusive, game-breaking veteran RB, with gifted receiving hands, and a knack for 1st Down markers (22% of carries). GM Jeff Ireland should be salivating at the prospect of adding a player of this caliber to the Dolphins' Offensive arsenal. Close your eyes and imagine it... the beautiful 1 - 2 punch of Williams - DeAngelo, that is - and Thomas in the Miami backfield. Suddenly OC Brian Daboll has lightning and thunder at his immediate disposal, ready to unleash upon unsuspecting Defenses. Let's not forget the steady stable of workhorses we also have in FB's Lusaka Polite and Charles Clay, and RB's Lex Hilliard, Kory Sheets, and Patrick Cobbs in reserve roles as well.
Defenses would have absolutely no choice but to honor the run on every down, opening passing lanes and creating legitimate play action threats as well. With this one FA signing, the Dolphins could rise from Offensive cellar, to Offensive relevance in one year!
Some would argue that DeAngelo Williams is too small (5'8", 217 lbs.), too banged-up (missed 10 games in 2010 due to injury), and/or too old (28 yrs.). Honestly, he's none of those! His size is ideal for his presumed role in a West Coast Offense, he'll be well rested and recovered from injury, and should have at least 2 - 3 years of quality production left in the tank, maybe more. This is a RB that has averaged over 1000+ yards of total offense over the last 5 seasons in a part-time role for the Carolina Panthers. Need I say more?
Mr. Ireland, make the necessary phone calls, prep the checkbook, release the dead weight in Ricky Williams and potentially Ronnie Brown, and bring DeAngelo to South Beach. You'll add a strong locker room presence, savvy veteran knowledge for our rook Daniel Thomas, and steady production for the next 3 years. If you want to see the post season, make the FA deal now!!!