Miami Dolphins Wise to Re-Sign Brian Hartline

By Craig Ballard

The Miami Dolphins have re-upped with wide receiver Brian Hartline, and surprise surprise many Dolfans have an issue with it. You know me, I am certain that there are legit criticisms that GM Jeff Ireland has earned during his days in South Beach, but it is clear that he is in a no-win scenario. To be fair, he brought a ton of that on himself, but the Hartline re-up was really good and should not be receiving the mega-criticism I have seen.

The fact that Peter King loved the move for both parties was good enough for me (plus the fact that BH and his agent feel that even more money was available in free-agency), but of course I did want to try to back up my opinion as well.

There are varying reports of how the cash for the five year $31 million contract will be distributed, but the main objection seems to be the average of $6 million per season. The cap hit in year one will not get to $6 million so the Dolphins still retain a ton of cap wiggle room this offseason, plus they retain the only offensive player that had any sort of BFF connection with Ryan Tannehill. Add in the fact that NFL contracts are not guaranteed so if BH does not perform then Miami will not pay anywhere close to $6 million annually for five seasons.

Even at an average of $6 million per campaign, I would still say that is only about $1 million or so more than warranted. Considering the cap space available I see no issue slightly overpaying a known asset as the alternative is auditioning a ton of WRs again in 2013 like they did (unsuccessfully) in 2012. Roll call of futility: Clyde Gates, Jeff Fuller, Anthony Armstrong, Chris Hogan, Rishard Matthews, Jabar Gaffney, Marlon Moore, and even Armon Binns all had opportunities to earn playing time for Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman (heck, toss Chad Johnson in the mix too). Hartline is an asset that Miami knows well, Miami likes him and he likes them.

Let’s remember that Hartline was injured all preseason so his season with Tanny was actually remarkable as they had just the regular season, vs NFL talent, to get on the same page and develop. Many will point to Hartline’s touchdown production, or lack thereof (60 career games, three TDs as a 2009 rookie, but then one, one, and in 2012 again a measly one) but Hartline looks to me like he is just getting going with Tanny. Once Ireland lands Mike Wallace (or whatever WR he adds to become the no.1 target) then Hartline becomes the no.2 WR, and the fact that defenses cannot roll coverage to attack Hartline at that point should massively increase BH as a scoring threat.

I am pleased to have Hartline remain in aqua and orange, and although the contract is getting ripped in most circles I do see the value to it. Dolfans do not agree with this point (or just do not want to hear it) but the lineup of WRs clamoring to play with Tannehill is…nobody…but BH thinks he can work to improve Tanny going forward and I for one am excited.

For me, this signing earns a rare tip of the cap towards Mr Ireland. Thank you for checking out my work, that is much appreciated…pass it on…

Craig Ballard is a NFL/NBA/MLB writer for Follow  him on Twitter @craigballard77, and you can find all of his articles HERE

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