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Dolphins’ Options to Shore Up Receiver Depth

Marvin McNutt is now a favorite to win Miami’s fourth or fifth WR spot

It’s been a difficult 24 hours for the wide receiver position in Miami. Rishard Matthews was held out of practice Sunday morning with an undisclosed injury and Armon Binns suffered a torn ACL.

The Dolphins’ deep corps is suddenly an injury to one of their starting receivers away from becoming borderline pedestrian all over again. That’s something that can’t happen with quarterback Ryan Tannehill looking to emerge as a legitimate franchise quarterback in 2013.

The Dolphins need to find two reliable receivers to round out the position. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson make up a solid top three, but Miami will need pass catchers who can make plays in relief duty and for four receiver sets. They’ll also need to find two receivers who will contribute on special teams.

Expect general manager Jeff Ireland to sign a new receiver soon and possibly workout some free agents in the meantime.

Let’s take a look at some of the Dolphins’ options, starting with receivers already on the roster and then delving through some pass catchers who are still on the open market.

IN-HOUSE OPTIONS

Marvin McNutt: The second-year receiver out of Iowa has been turning heads during the first week of camp. His hands are considered somewhat inconsistent, but he’s been making plays on a routine basis. McNutt was figuring into the battle for the fifth receiver spot before Matthews and Binns went down. Now, his chances of making the roster have significantly improved.

Jeff Fuller: Fuller was Ryan Tannehill’s go-to target at Texas A&M. That bodes well for the second-year receiver. But he’s yet to make much of an impact in practice dating back to last season. If he can begin to rediscover some chemistry with Tannehill and start to make some plays in the exhibition games, Fuller could become a solution at the fifth spot.

Kenny Stafford: He was a last-second signing by the Dolphins a couple of days before training camp kicked off, but Kenny Stafford quietly put together an impressive first week of camp. As realistically nothing more than a practice squad hopeful before Binns and Matthews went down, Stafford now finds himself right in the thick of what will be a heated battle for the final two receiver openings.

Marcus Thigpen: Binns was expected to be Brandon Gibson’s primary backup in the slot. With Binns out for the season, Marcus Thigpen, who has mostly worked at running back thus far, could land that role. Thigpen’s versatility to spend time at receiver or move their exclusively will certainly help the depth at the position.

FREE AGENTS

Brandon Lloyd: He was only 89 yards short of 1,000 in 2012 with New England. He’s 32 years old, though, and likely wouldn’t contribute on special teams like the team would prefer their fourth or fifth receiver to.

Laurent Robinson: At 28, Robinson should still have plenty left in the tank. He’s also flashed the ability to be a very productive receiver with good quarterback play (858 receiver yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011). If the Dolphins choose to sign a well-known veteran, Robinson could be their choice.

Steve Breaston: Breaston has a 1,000-yard season on his resume, but he’s still a free agent for a reason. Knee trouble and a lack of production in 2012 will likely scare the Dolphins away.

Early Doucet: He’s still relatively young and might be worth a look. But Doucet was largely a disappointment in five years with Arizona and hasn’t received much interest on the open market since the Cardinals cut him in March.

Donald Jones: The 25-year old veteran is the youngest option on our list of free agents. His youth and four touchdowns in 2012 with the Bills could intrigue the Dolphins. He’d also help out on special teams, which is something the Dolphins will be seeking from their fourth and fifth receivers.

ANALYSIS

The Dolphins might consider some of the relatively younger options on the open market like Laurent Robinson and Donald Jones, but I’d rule out veterans like Brandon Lloyd and Steve Breaston. The Dolphins will want their fourth and fifth receivers to contribute on special teams and I don’t see Lloyd or Breaston doing so.

In all likelihood, though, I imagine Miami will sign a lesser-known undrafted rookie or second-year free agent and roll with the guys they already have in camp.

If Marvin McNutt and company don’t take the fourth and fifth spots by the reins, then I could see the Dolphins reevaluating their stance on some of the listed veterans while they scourer the waiver wire for receivers who are let go by other teams.


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2 Responses to “Dolphins’ Options to Shore Up Receiver Depth”

  1. Dennis says:

    SIGN LLOYD NOW!!! DUDE WAS ALMOST A 1000 YD WR LAST YR AND HE’S STILL A FA???? WHAT IS IRELAND WAITING ON????

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