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Dolphins Could Target QB In Free Agency

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(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Miami Dolphins

MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Ask anyone who’s watched the Miami Dolphins for the last 12 years what they want most and almost all of them will say a solid, long-term quarterback.

Unrestricted free agency should start this week, and there are some quarterbacks the Dolphins might be interested in bringing to the team.

But first, the Dolphins have a returning starting quarterback in Chad Henne. The former second-round pick had an up and down season in his first year as a starter, with more downs than ups. Henne threw for 3,301 yards with 15 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Henne also had a paltry 75.4 quarterback rating for the season. His problems with interceptions has been noted and he’s never thrown for more touchdowns than interceptions in a season.

That has prompted some to put quarterback at the top of the list of positions the Dolphins should address in unrestricted free agency. There are some big names out there on the market, or who could be available in a trade.

The top name on the free agent wire is going to be Kevin Kolb. While not technically a free agent, he’s trade bait for the Philadelphia Eagles and is likely heading to Arizona if a deal can be struck.

After Kolb, there are rumblings of former number 3 overall pick Vince Young. The mercurial quarterback has thrown as many touchdowns as he has interceptions in his career, but his qb rating was nearly 100 last season and he wins. But, he has more baggage than Delta, so the Fins will probably pass on him.

Then there are the players who could be available via trade. At the top of that list for the Dolphins should be Kyle Orton of the Broncos and Carson Palmer of the Bengals.

Orton played without Brandon Marshall last season and still managed to throw for more yards, touchdowns, and fewer interceptions than Henne. Orton has increased his qb rating since 2007 and last season had a rating of 87.5.

Orton is a solid starting quarterback in the league and could be just what the doctor ordered to give the Dolphins a shot in the arm at the position.

Palmer is a former number one overall pick out of USC. He’s three years older than Orton, but has been a decent starting quarterback for one of the most poorly run teams in all of sports. Palmer’s interceptions were up last season, so the Fins would have to do their work on him.

  • Click here for a slideshow of the Dolphins 2011 QB Options

But to acquire Palmer, the Fins would have to deal with Bengals owner Mike Brown. Palmer has moved out of Cincinnati and told the Bengals to trade him or he’d retire. Brown, notoriously stubborn, has refused to trade him and will likely force Palmer to retire.

That is unless a great deal comes his way for Palmer. But giving up the farm for Palmer makes much less sense than trying to acquire Orton who’s in his prime. Palmer has the gaudier numbers, but as the season wore on last season, his numbers declined, outside of the next to last game of the season against the Chargers.

Orton was steady at the helm for most of the season, but struggled in his last two games before having his season ended after week 14.

Past those four quarterbacks, there’s a few more quarterbacks out there who could be fall-back options. Some have touted bringing in Donovan McNabb to compete for the starting job. But there are problems galore with McNabb.

He’s 34-years-old and threw more interceptions than touchdowns last season despite playing for the notoriously quarterback friendly offense of Mike Shanahan. McNabb was solid until last season, but before that had a quarterback rating of at least 86 from 2006 to 2009.

But, McNabb looked old, slow, and seemed disinterested in playing last season. That could be due to the rift that opened up between McNabb and the Shanahan’s, or it could be a sign that his playing days are numbered the next few seasons.

Marc Bulger has been talked about as a potential back-up quarterback. He’s looked gun-shy since he was beaten into a pulp from 2006-2008 with the St. Louis Rams. He was sacked a total of 124 times during those seasons.

Bulger reportedly looked good in a back-up role with the Baltimore Ravens, which is likely where he’ll stay unless big money is tossed his way.

Thirty-five-year-old Matt Hasselbeck may be cut by the Seahawks. He’d be at best a veteran backup after several poor seasons with the Seahawks. The Fins could also take a shot at Matt Leinart and see if he has finally decided to become a football player instead of a celebrity.

  • Click here for a slideshow of the Dolphins 2011 QB Options

The Dolphins could look at re-signing free agent Tyler Thigpen, who has been with the team for the last few years. Thigpen wants a shot at becoming a starter, and couldn’t be worse than Henne played last season.

Matt Moore of the Carolina Panthers could be an intriguing option, if he chooses to leave the Panthers. The team may need him in place to give number one overall pick Cam Newton time to get adjusted to the NFL.

Those are the best available options at the quarterback position. All come with a certain degree of uncertainty, and given the time the Fins have to prepare themselves for free agency; the team had better be prepared to move on their player and fast when free agency begins.

The Fins may choose to give Henne another season to prove himself. But, he and Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland are essentially in a make-it or break-it season. If Henne is the starter and he fails, don’t be surprised if a new regime is brought in by owner Stephen Ross.

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