The wide receiver position is an interesting one moving forward for the Miami Dolphins in 2012 because the offensive philosophy will change for the third time in a three-year span! Players and fans alike are assuming more timing and rhythm throws in anticipation of the west coast offense that head coach Joe Philbin has run in the past.
DOLPHINS WIDE RECEIVER SITUATION:
One trait that shouldn’t change is that Brandon Marshall should still be productive in any offensive scheme! Marshall led all Dolphins receivers in receptions (81), reception yardage (1,214) and touchdowns with six. He also led the team in single-game receptions ten times this season and has had at least one reception in his last 83 consecutive games! Over the last five seasons, Marshall ranks second in the league in total receptions with 474, third in receptions per game with 6.2 and fifth in total receiving yards at 5,938. Four-year veteran Davone Bess finished the year second to Marshall in receptions (51) and third in reception yardage (537). His numbers were down slightly from his personal bests a year ago and also had his streak of making at least one reception stopped at 61 games. Davone bounced back and flurished in 2012 as punt returner. Bess finished the year second in the AFC and fifth in the NFL in punt return yardage. Brian Hartline had 35 receptions for 549 yards and led the team with 15.7 yards per reception. He’s the fourth player in franchise history to lead the team for three consecutive seasons! Hartline only registered one touchdown on the season, but he had multiple receptions down the field to extend drives and excite the crowd! Rookie Clyde Gates only made two receptions for 19 yards, but made consistent strides in the kick return game. Gates ranked fifth in the AFC in kick return yards and is looking to see more playing time in 2012.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENTS:
Vincent Jackson: The 29-year-old receiver has crossed the 1,000-yard receiving threshold three times in his six seasons as a professional, but has never had double-digit touchdowns in his career. Multiple teams will be lining up to pay Jackson in the neighborhood of ten to eleven million dollars annually, but he just might take a hometown discount to stay in San Diego and catch footballs from quarterback Phillip Rivers. At 6’5”, Jackson can be a dominate playmaker in someone’s offense, but remember that he’s never caught more than 68 receptions in a single season!
Brandon Lloyd: Lloyd was traded to the St. Louis Rams from the Denver Broncos on October 17th, 2011. His production last season (51 receptions for 683 yards and five touchdowns) was down and it was a direct correlation to the inconsistency of the quarterbacks and systems that he played under. Lloyd flourished in 2010 in Denver and had the most productive numbers in his nine-year career, collecting 71 receptions for 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s a big-play wide receiver and his 18.8 yards per reception in 2010 shows that he can stretch a defense vertically. Keep an eye on AFC rival New England and current offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels taking a swing at Lloyd over the next couple of weeks!
Marques Colston: This is the receiver that I would covet if I were a quarterback in today’s NFL. He’s a wide receiver that can do everything well and provide the offense with big plays that stretch the field. In Colston’s six seasons, he’s provided at least 12 plays of 25 yards or more, with 15 of those coming last season! With 80 receptions in 2011 for 1,143 yards and with his 6’4 frame, Colston provides a huge window for his current quarterback Drew Brees to target. If I were a general manager and had cap space flexibility, this playmaker would be my top priority if I was in the market for a wide receiver!
Mike Wallace: The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t use their franchise tag on the speedy wide receiver, but haven’t negotiated a new deal with him as of today. If someone does decide to sign Wallace, they must part ways with a first-round pick. The restricted free agent’s numbers last season were among the league’s best catching 72 passes for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns. Wallace can use his sprinter-like speed to get behind defenders and his 18.7 career yards per catch average shows why he will garner attention during the free agency period.
Other free-agent wide receivers include: Pierre Garcon, Mario Manningham, Laurent Robinson and Reggie Wayne.
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