Thursday, March 4, 2010

Miami Dolphins 2010 Offseason Preview: Quarterback

The offseason will officially kick off with the signing and trading period March 5, and as I always do prior to the mayhem, I'll be looking at each position on the Dolphins' roster in depth.

I'll look at the team's strengths and areas of need, who is under contract, who are the free agents and their prospects for being re-signed, and who they might look at via trade, free agency, and the draft.

This article focuses on the quarterback position.


Under Contract
  • Chad Henne (through 2011) — The Dolphins' quarterback of the future is now the quarterback of the present and that's not changing any time soon. Henne had his ups and downs in his first year of starting, but overall he displayed a great arm, pocket presence and good leadership quality. He won't be challenged for the starting job in 2010.
  • Tyler Thigpen (through 2010) — Acquired from Kansas City for a fifth-round pick last season, Thigpen is a solid NFL prospect and could start for some teams. He's likely to remain Henne's backup, unless Chad Pennington is re-signed. In that case, Thigpen may be dealt again.
  • Pat White (through 2012) — The second-round pick's rookie season was a mess from start to finish, as White rushed for 81 yards on 21 carries, failed to complete any of his five pass attempts, and suffered a concussion in the season finale against Pittsburgh. White simply doesn't have the size or ability to be an NFL quarterback, but the Dolphins probably won't admit their mistake so early.

Free Agents
  • Chad Pennington (unrestricted) — Up until today, I would have said there was little to no chance Pennington would be re-signed by Miami. As nice as it is to have him mentoring the younger guy and as good as a backup as he'd be, Miami already had three quarterbacks on the roster (Henne, Thigpen, White) that seemingly weren't going anywhere in 2009. But that was until Edgar Thompson of the Palm Beach Post reported that Pennington was "expected to return to Miami." As much as I'd like to hope this would mean White will be cut, I expect that more likely, the team will try to get a draft pick for Thigpen.

Strengths
  • Chad Henne isn't there yet, but he's shown plenty of promise. It's still to early to tell, but the Dolphins may have just found their long-term franchise quarterback after a painful decade following Dan Marino's retirement.

Areas of Needs
  • The Dolphins have a good prospect to start long-term in Henne and a reliable backup in either Thigpen or Pennington depending what happens this offseason, so there really aren't any needs at quarterback. The only thing they need to do is admit that drafting Pat White was a mistake.

Free Agency Outlook
  • The Dolphins have no need for a free-agent quarterback, which is a good thing too, because there isn't much on the open market. The best quarterbacks available are primarily made up of failed former first-round picks (Kyle Boller, David Carr, Rex Grossman, J. P. Losman) and washed-up veterans (Daunte Culpepper, A. J. Feeley, Jeff Garcia, Josh McCown, Chris Redman).
  • If the Dolphins had a fifth-round pick, I honestly wouldn't mind them signing restricted free agent Troy Smith (Ravens), who was given an original-pick tender by Baltimore.

Draft Outlook
  • The Dolphins certainly won't be drafting a quarterback high, and probably not at all unless they give up on Pat White. One quarterback I would like to have and develop in general is White's former backup at West Virginia, Jarrett Brown. He's got good athleticism, surprising speed, and a rocket arm.
  • There is always a chance the Dolphins spent a sixth- or seventh-round pick on a quarterback as a camp body, in which case I wouldn't mind seeing John Skelton (Fordham) or Ryan Perrilloux (Jacksonville State).

Conclusion

The Dolphins may have finally found their franchise quarterback, and it'll be interesting to see how well Chad Henne does in his first season as the Dolphins' full-time starter. Having an offseason knowing he's "the guy" can only help things, and I expect him to progress nicely.

I also like the options of Thigpen or Pennington as Henne's backup, and I don't see Pennington's presence being problematic for Henne. Pennington is a great teammate and has an outstanding football mind, and he's definitely someone that can help get the most out of Henne.

As you might have picked up by now, I really want to see Pat White cut or traded. I know it's unfortunate to have to give up on a second-round pick, especially so early, but I just never liked the pick and I don't see him turning into anything useful. The Dolphins' offense is better off not trying to implement the White-led spread option.


How do you feel about the Dolphins' quarterbacks heading into the 2010 offseason? Share your thoughts on the forum here!