As the preseason approaches I find myself thinking about where the Dolphins would be without the free agents that were signed this offseason. I am not big fan of free agent signings because our free agent signings haven't done very well for us in the past.
Maybe I am jaded by the Dave Wannstedt era where it seemed that every free agent the team brought in was an over-the-hill, used-up player whose best days were behind them. He drove this team right into the ground. Since him we have had a mish-mash of head coaches, philosophies, and schemes to the point that us fans had lost confidence in the team. That continues to this day.
Having said that, I feel that the free agent signings that were brought here this year are different than in the past. Yes, some of the players brought here had some injuries, but this is the NFL and most of the players have some degree of injury concern. That's not to minimize those concerns, but that is a fact in the NFL. So, for the sake of this discussion let's take the injury concerns out of the equation.
Where would we be without the free agents? I'll tell you right now where I think we would have been. We would be looking at another losing season. We would have needed to spend our early draft choices on at least two wide receivers that would take a few years to develop. We would not have traded up in the draft to steal the top rated defensive player in the draft.
Hidden in the free agent signings was something no one has mentioned that I know of. Those signings allowed us build some depth on this team. One of the problems we have had is when a starter goes down with an injury there was no one there that could take his place. We didn't have many reserves pushing the starters for the number one spot on the depth chart. So, this team could never build from within because of the lack of depth on the team.
I don't know how this season will shake out; maybe these free agents turn out to be nothing more than a bunch of hot air. Who knows? I know one thing. I like our chances a hell of a lot better this year than any of the past 10 years. We actually have a chance of competing with the better teams. The Patriots don't seem quite so difficult this year, and neither do those first five games that everyone seems to think we will lose.