NFL: Dolphins make splash on free agency's first day
By Jeff Darlington
By Jeff Darlington
Linebacker Reggie Torbor doesn't care about his new team's miserable recent past. He isn't concerned about Miami's depressing 1-15 record last season. Or a depleted roster that still needs plenty of work.
As it turns out, Torbor isn't alone. Not at all.
Because when the first day of free agency ended Friday, the Dolphins had agreed to terms of contracts with a whopping seven free agents, while also trading for Cowboys nose tackle Jason Ferguson. No other team in the NFL was more active.
"It's one thing to go to the New England Patriots, where they always win," Torbor told The Miami Herald. "But to be able to help build something with a 1-15 team and turn it into a championship team, now that would be special."
The start of a massive roster overhaul initiated by vice president of football operations Bill Parcells also included the addition of quarterback Josh McCown, who will compete with John Beck for the starting job. McCown agreed to a two-year deal worth $6.25 million, with $2.5 million guaranteed.
Of eight known free agents who visited South Florida on Friday, only one of them (linebacker Calvin Pace) did not agree to terms of a contract. Instead, Pace said he would wait until after he visited the New York Jets to decide.
But Pace sounded like he was leaning toward Miami.
"I love it," Pace said of the Dolphins. "I'm feeling it. You know Parcells, he's going to win wherever he goes. We'll see, man. I might be lining up on the other side of Miami defensive end Jason Taylor."
In all, Miami managed to lure in two linebackers (Charlie Anderson and Torbor), a defensive tackle (Randy Starks), a wide receiver (Ernest Wilford), a quarterback (McCown), a tight end (Sean Ryan) and an offensive guard (Justin Smiley) in free agency.
Wilford, essentially, is a more accomplished version of Dolphins wide receiver Derek Hagan. He is 6-4, 218 pounds. Last season with the Jaguars, he caught 45 passes for 518 yards with three touchdowns during 14 starts.
Like several of the other free agents, Wilford's contract was a reflection of the Dolphins' ability to spend money for the players they want. He signed a four-year deal worth $13 million with a $6 million signing bonus.
That bonus is considerably impressive, since Wilford is not necessarily assured a starting job, although he certainly will be in the mix. For Wilford, though, the money wasn't everything.
"Ernest has great respect for coach Parcells even though he's not the coach," said agent Drew Rosenhaus, who negotiated the deal but declined to give contract specifics. "It's a great fit for Ernest and I think for the Dolphins. Now it's up to him to come in and work hard and compete."
Wilford wasn't the only one to sign a lucrative deal. Smiley agreed to a five year, $25 million deal that includes a $9 million signing bonus. Starks signed a five year, $21 million deal with $7 million in guaranteed money.
Perhaps even more impacting than those moves, the team also acquired Ferguson to fill an important hole as Keith Traylor's replacement. To land Ferguson, the team will swap sixth-round picks this year with the Cowboys, and Dallas also will receive Miami's sixth-round pick in 2009.
No doubt, Ferguson's reason for joining the Dolphins had a common thread: He'll be reuniting with a familiar staff that includes Parcells. Ryan also left Dallas to join the family in Miami.
So why all the love for Parcells? Apparently, that's not a mystery for the players who know him, made clear already by Ferguson and Ryan. But for Torbor, who had no prior relationship, he called his conversation with the boss "the high point of my day."
"He's great," said Torbor, who started at outside linebacker for the Giants in the Super Bowl. "He's not like the Parcells you see on television. When you sit down and talk to him, you realize how much he's done. He's so wise about football and about life."
Turns out, he's not so bad at closing deals, either.