Dennis Hickey, obviously nervous, rocked back and forth like he was holding his bladder and spoke at a rapid pace that would have likely only been outdone by an auctioneer.
It was his introductory press conference as the Miami Dolphins‘ new GM. As far as first impressions go, Dolphins fans didn’t come away from the presser feeling any more confident about the decision to hire Hickey, who was acquired after owner Stephen Ross failed to lure the likes of Ray Farmer and Nick Caserio.
Luckily for Hickey, though, his ability to speak in public wasn’t his real first impression. That came on Monday morning.
It’s not what Hickey says or how he says it that will define his legacy as the Dolphins’ GM; it’s the players he signs and drafts who will ultimately tell his story. Hickey, with the assistance of cap specialist Dawn Aponte, agreed to a four-year deal with cornerback Brent Grimes on Monday.
Grimes, Pro Football Focus’ second-highest graded player at the cornerback position in 2013, will be paid $32 million over four seasons, including $16 million guaranteed. For a corner who produced 18 combined interceptions and pass breakups this past season — second highest in the NFL — paying Grimes $8 million per season is more than reasonable.
Said salary makes Grimes the 12th-highest paid cornerback in the NFL, although the $4 million guaranteed per year he’s due to receive ranks eight. The Dolphins appear to have gotten themselves a bargain.
Yes, Grimes’ age — he’ll turn 31 before the season — is a cause for concern and obviously lowered his price tag. But the Dolphins just retained a cornerback who has graded less efficiently than only Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman over the past three seasons according to Pro Football Focus and has produced the second most pass breakups in the entire league during that span.
He’s shown no signs of slowing down and appears more than capable of playing at a high level for at least two or three more years. And if the Dolphins front loaded the deal, like many expect, Hickey will have the luxury of cutting Grimes in 2016 or 2017 if need be.
First impressions often prove to be inaccurate. Hickey could go on to make several poor decisions during free agency and select a few busts in the early rounds of May’s draft. But so far so good.
Re-signing Grimes to a reasonable deal and subsequently retaining arguably the best player on the team is a big win for Hickey. It’s a win for the Dolphins and their fans as well.
This is a franchise that has been subjected to incessant scrutiny over the past few months. A collapse during the final two games of the season and the notorious bullying controversy has positioned the Dolphins among the league’s least respected organizations.
With Grimes re-signing, Miami fans finally have a reason to rejoice again. One of the best cornerbacks in the league will remain a Dolphin — a break from the constant negativity of the present and hope for a turnaround in the future.
With that, Hickey’s first impression as the Dolphins’ GM is finally in the books. There’s no telling how successful or not his tenure will be from this point on, but it’s off to a great start.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.