Photo: Jeffrey Beall
Before freaking out, sit down and absorb the information presented in front of you. Too often in today’s impatient, fast-paced world, we — myself included — disregard an idea just because of a title or byline.
The Miami Dolphins should consider (to think carefully about something) signing Saints superstar tight end Jimmy Graham to an offer sheet.
New Orleans has placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on their young WR/TE hybrid beast, meaning teams can negotiate with him but the Saints have a right to match and would receive TWO first-round picks as compensation for his departure. Let’s assume for a minute they definitely wouldn’t match because this is way more fun.
The main issue with dismissing the potential gargantuan move for new Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey sources from the general assumption that first-round picks are low-risk, high-return investments – everyone drafted in the first round is going to be an impact star. Chris Chase did the heavy lifting, comparing the 2008 and 2010 first-round picks of every team in the NFL and whether each team would likely trade those two players for Graham in hindsight. The results were: 13 Yes’s, 8 Maybe’s, and 11 No’s.
There’s obviously some unavoidable subjectivity here, but it’s an interesting study. For the record, he put the Dolphins in the “No” column, essentially stating they wouldn’t have traded Jake Long (1st overall) and Vontae Davis (25th overall). I happen to disagree, and this is with a first overall pick. If we played this game for 2010 (Jared Odrick) and 2011 (Mike Pouncey), would the answer not be a “hell yes?” Building through the draft is the ideal, no doubt. It’s a cost-effective way of constructing a roster. It makes your GM look crafty and gives your fans something to look forward to during an NFL offseason. But what happens when that mission has failed over and over again? Miami’s first-round picks of the last ten years are below:
I mean, GREAT SCOTT, look at those beauties! How many were/are true impact players? Jake Long for a few years? The NFL Draft, especially for the Dulphins, is like playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey on a ten-acre field.
Who in the right mind would give up two first-round picks for Jimmy Graham? Nobody
— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) March 1, 2014
Who in the right mind would give up two first-round picks for Jimmy Graham? How about a team that drafts a player third overall and doesn’t play him?
The secondary issue — a valid one — comes from the price of signing Graham to a long-term deal expected to be in the $60 million range compared to the price of signing two first-round picks. High draft picks no longer have massive price tags and thus have gone up in value. The Dolphins gave HUGE money to Mike Wallace last season, but can get out of that deal after next season without butchering their financial flexibility.
Miami has chunks of cap space and has been rumored to have put a “high priority” on signing a premiere offensive tackle. That’s logical, considering the actor who played Michael Oher in The Blind Side could start at left tackle. But would a team in today’s NFL rather have a dynamic, 6-8 transformer on offense with a decent lineman or a decent tight end with a great lineman? The answer is absolutely the former because an offensive line is always going to have its weak points regardless. A defense can always attack the vulnerable hole up front. And finding a quality lineman is much less challenging than uncovering a Jimmy Graham.
From a business side, it’s a no-brainer. Bringing Graham back to Miami would certainly help deplete those swells of orange seats we’ve grown accustomed to seeing at home Dolphins games on television. The abundance of “Look, Nobody’s at the Dolphins Game” posts on national blogs has become “Blurred Lines” on the radio — unlistenable.
Much of this is dependent on the level of confidence the coaching staff and front office collectively have in quarterback Ryan Tannehill. If they don’t see him continuing to improve on an upward trend, this is all for naught and they’d be much wiser to keep throwing quarterback darts in the draft. But can we really say Graham wouldn’t dramatically facilitate his development along with the undeniable confidence attached? In the end, it’s a team game and having a target who can go up and rip the football away from oncoming defenders regardless of ball placement is a tremendous, rare asset that increases the margin-for-error for the most difficult position in professional sports.
Think about it. It’s not as silly as it sounds. Bring the red-headed beast home.