Are the Miami Dolphins A Threat in the AFC East?


It was only Day 1 of Free Agency Frenzy, but the quiet Miami Dolphins turned out to be rather splashy with two major acquisitions – Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe earlier in the day.

Dec 30, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; The New England Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 28-0. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins was in need for depth at the wide receiver position, and when money is not an issue as they entered the new season with a $31 million in cap space, then why not spend?

While some are saying it was not wise for the Dolphins to sign Wallace, the overall standpoint is that it was a very smart move as Mike Wallace and the Dolphins agreed to a five-year, $60 million contract with $30 million guaranteed. From Wallace’s point, the deal was a no-brainer as it was stated in the Miami Dolphins Twitter earlier today.

“Wallace said he likes the team’s direction.”I like Coach Philbin. I like what he brings to the table.”

Since San Francisco 49ers did not get the ring nor the Lombardi Trophy and all the glory that comes with a Super Bowl victory, they certainly grabbed Anquan Boldin – a talented wide receiver from their Super Bowl opponent. As the frenzy continues, it looks like everyone wants to strip a piece of that Lombardi and the best way to do is to dismantle the Super Bowl team-winner position by position.

The Dolphins can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the signing of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe worth $35 million over five years. Ellerbe was a defensive player, that in my perspective, the Ravens really wanted to keep him as an anchor for the defense to fill in the void of Ray Lewis due to his retirement. Ellerbe’s absence will mostly have an impact as he outshined last year, especially during the Super Bowl run and finishing with 69 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Although he comes from a 3-4 defense, adapting to Dolphins 4-3 defense should not be a problem for a talented linebacker as he has proven to be. If anything, he will boost the morale and energy of that defense, mentoring and guiding the locker room on how to win a Super Bowl. In fact, he might even take the roll of a “Dolphins Ray Lewis” kind of a team player.

The Dolphins also acquired linebacker Philip Wheeler from the Oakland Raiders for a five-year contract worth $26 million While Wheeler had his best season in 2012 playing 16 games and a total of 78 tackles, 3.0 sack and 2 forced fumbles, his stats might not be so stellar, but his athleticism and speed is pretty good and working together with Ellerbe and Koa Misi it could be enough to make stops on third-downs.

The Dolphins seems to start on the right track, but they still need to upgrade their roster with quality tight end, cornerback and a top-notch running back since Reggie Bush has officially signed with the Detroit Lions.

In sum, could the Miami Dolphins become a contender to clinch the AFC East and a challenge to the Patriots?

Time will tell, but from the looks of it the Dolphins appear to have a better plan for this season than they had last season and although they were 7-9, they showed to be a competitor throughout the season. Plugging the missing pieces into place, there’s no telling what the Dolphins can do and from the set of facts being revealed in front of our eyes, the Patriots should consider and reconsider the impact of not having Wes Welker on the offense. But then again, having a healthy Gronk and Hernandez should easy-up a little but not enough to get too comfy.

Follow Celia Westbrook on Twitter @celiawestbrook