For the last couple of days rumors have been swirling about contract talks between the Miami Dolphins and wide receiver Brian Hartline. A deal was thought to be close at hand and now it appears the Dolphins have come to terms with the reliable wideout, to the tune of $6 million a year.
The early word on the deal is that it is a five year contract worth $60 million with $12.5 million guaranteed. This is well beyond the one inked by the Green Bay Packers’ Jordy Nelson, the player Hartline is often compared to. Nelson was signed to four years for$13.989 million, quite a bit less than Hartline. This could lead to over-speculation from fans that Hartline has been over paid, but after posting career highs in both receptions (74) and yards (1,083) last season, the Dolphins clearly felt he was worth spending the cash on.
It is unclear how the $12.5 will be worked out, but at $6 million a year, Hartline’s contract still leaves the Dolphins with roughly $30 million in cap space. This leaves plenty of money for Miami to use to chase a top-tier receiver in free agency. Mike Wallace is said to be at the top of the Dolphins wish list and Greg Jennings has expressed his interest in playing in the Sunshine State since the NFL season ended.
With a receiving corps built around Hartline, productive slot-receiver Davone Bess and either Wallace or Jennings, the Dolphins front-office would be second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill all the weapons he needs to be successful in the NFL. Whether that would translate into a significant increase in the win column remains to be seen.
The key will be in signing a player that can stretch the field and open up the underneath routes for Hartline and Bess. Everyone knows the two cannot get the job done on their own. The team tried to make it work last season with mixed results. The duo caught for plenty of yards, but hardly any points to show for it. If the Dolphins can break the pattern of the last couple of seasons, where they chase and come up empty, expect the Dolphins to be among the league leaders in passing and receiving in 2013.