Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Dec 2005

Let's Find Miami a Quarterback

One of the most interesting off-season storylines will be Miami's search for a quarterback. Will they stay with Gus Frerotte, or get a veteran who can lead an otherwise strong team deep in the playoffs, or find a youngster? We've suggested Brett Favre, but Favre continues to say he would not play for a team other than Green Bay. David Neal of the Miami Herald suggests Steve McNair, he of the $50 million March 2 bonus. Jeff Darlington of the Palm Beach Post, on the other hand, suggests a Daunte Culpepper reunion with Scott Linehan.
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Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 22 Dec 2005

60 comments, Last at 16 Jan 2006, 8:18pm by mike


by B (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:09pm

Apparently every year there's this thing called the draft where NFL teams select college players, where teams get picks in inverse proportion to how they finished last year. I think Miami should use that process to get a new QB.

by Mark (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:10pm

They really should give Cleo Lemon a chance. In his preseason games with San Diego he always looked good. Admittedly, that was only preseason but he was always decisive, appeared to know what he was doing and was accurate, which is more than can be said for Philip Rivers. Many in the Chargers organizaiton didn't want to lose him.

by Dman (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:16pm

Problem with that though B, is that a rookie QB is probably not going to play well enough to keep miami competetive immediately. Miami has a shot at immediate success with the addition of a good qb, but that window is closing since so many of their defensive starters are aging. I think either mcnair or culpepper would be great additions to the fins.

by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:27pm

Unless your last name is "Roethlesberger", rookie QBs are almost guaranteed to suck in their first year. If you're starting a rookie QB, you're mailing in the season.

Let other teams take those bumps for you and take their veterans. Kerry Collins seems to be falling out of favor in Oakland.

Or, even better for Miami - get more O-linemen.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:27pm

miami, atleast since dan marino, always seems to have a lukewarm to awful QB. It makes me think maybe its an issue with the system, or the quarterback coaches, and not neccesarily with the QBs.

by Justus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:48pm

"Miami QBs since Dan Marino" basically consist of one name: "Jay Fiedler". Last year you had a half season of Feeley after Fielder went down. This season they switched to Frerotte. I don't think that is really enough to blame "the system" or "the QB coaches". Especially since Frerotte is under a different coaching staff.

by Slippery Pete (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:00pm

Miami should go with another sucky QB whose last name begins with an F. I recommend Jose Fuentes. (or if you're a Favre hater, the guy above him on the depth chart)

Actually, as an Iowa State alum, I am fully on board the Sage Rosenfels bandwagon.

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:02pm

I'd have a hard time turning my offense over to someone named Cleo. The sheer number of psychic hotline jokes would be too much to take. It would be worse than hiring someone named Mularkey.

by JonL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:19pm

Based on nothing, I wouldn't be surprised to see Houston make a run at Norval next year. Whether as head coach or OC, I don't know (although I doubt Turner would take another OC job).

by wrmjr (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:39pm

Maybe they should take a bit of a flier...Dave Dickerson led the CFL in passing. He's 32, so they wouldn't give him a long contract, but they could bring him in for a tryout. Admittedly, he didn't make it in the NFL his first few tries, but neither did Kurt Warner!

by Jerrod Sieberg (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:51pm

# 8
or millen.

Unfortunatley I don't see any sunshine for the phins. they are going to be higher than nessecary to aquire Lienart or Young in the draft and alot of the veteran QB's are just getting too old.

here is an idea, Vinni and the phins

by DNL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 4:54pm

If I had a hammer, I'd hammer out danger.

Yeah. That's it.

Here's my plan:

1) Give Cleo the next two starts. See what he can do, explain to him that he is going to be the #2 next year unless he totally sucks it up, and will hopefully be the #1 in 2007.

2) Sign one of the following guys as a stop-gap:
* Kerry Collins
* Kelly Holcomb
* Mark Brunell
* Joey Harrington (seriously.)
* David Carr

3) Do not draft a QB. Their ain't no need to waste a pick on a project when you already gots one.

4) Do not trade for a QB. Their ain't no need to waste assets for a vet when you can just pluck one out of the air.

5) Bring in Tommy Maddox as an insurance policy. Yes, he sucks, but he'll probably play for cheap, and he was once an MVP, ya know.

by Rob Barone (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:11pm

I think the Dolphins need to hit a "homerun" on this. The Right QB can get them to the dance. I think it's going to be Vandy's Jay Cutler.

Dolfan since '82

by Jesus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:14pm

It's obvious.

Fiedler will go back to the Dolphins at the end of the year. The Jets don't want him, so he can go back to Miami.

by Fourth (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:16pm

McNair would be excellent. Keep Frerotte to be the #2, and Lemon the #3. Trade or cut Rosenfels. The best QB in this draft after Leinert is Cutler, and I don't think he's worth a top 15 pick. He may be gone by Miami's pick anyway. If we can't get McNair, I'm out of ideas for this team, unless someone wants to pay me to GM :)

by JonL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:24pm

RE: #9 (me)

sorry, ignore that, I posted it in the wrong thread.

Anyway, I disagree that they need to hit a homerun. Get a decent (above replacement-level) QB, sure, but it doesn't need to be a superstar.

Also, RE: #12, I believe Maddox is signed through 2007, so if the Dolphins want him they'll have to trade for him, which goes against your #4.

Has Rohan Davey been that bad that even Saban won't take a flier on him?

by DNL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:28pm


A lot of these guys are under contract. I'm assuming they'll be cut. If not, rule 4 controls.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:38pm

Ahh... pit of despair that is QB in today's NFL.

I don't see them starting a rookie QB next year, although they may draft one. That leaves the "proven veteran" route, and unfortunately there won't be any on the market next year. Miami's best best is to figure out who the Randall Cunningham, 1998 Vikings will be in 2006.

Potential Free Agent Veteran QBs (with the "worse" ones filtered out):
Jon Kitna, Jeff Garcia, Chris Weinke, Josh McCown, Kurt Warner, Todd Collins

Intriging Young QBs:
Dave Ragone (R, Texans)
Chris Simms (R)
Phillip Rivers (Trade)

I think 2006 is when Jon Kitna will get another chance at a starting QB job...

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 5:59pm

As a Patriots fan, I really hope I get to see Kurt Warner (or a McCown brother, it doesn't matter which one) in a Dolphins uniform next year.

by GMR (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 6:03pm

#10, funny you should mention Dickenson because his backup has already worked out for the Dolphins.

Of course, he was the Most Outstanding Year in 2004, so it's not your average CFL backup.

by ElAngelo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 6:07pm

I was going to suggest the right guy that #18 also brought up: Jon Kitna.

by Al (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 6:16pm

If Kitna is free, he has to be the firt choice. What's wrong with Sage Rosenfels? He's looked pretty good from what I've seen of him this season. Give him the last two games and see what you have.

by NF (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 6:47pm

None of this makes any sense. We saw what happened with a replacement-level QB this season. There is no QB out there who will turn this team into a playoff contender by simply starting. The continued development of the combo of Brown and Williams will do more to help the Miami offense than trying to use a new QB as a silver bullet. What Miami should do is keep Frerotte until Rosenfels or Cleo Lemon are capable of handling the full-time starting job. If they don't think either are going to be NFL-caliber, Josh McCown is probably the only QB who will be available in the offseason who has franchise potential.

by joel in providence (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 7:24pm

it's amazing that cleo lemon has made it this far up the ranks of competitive football. i mean, would you scout a guy named CLEO LEMON????

he needs a good football name... i nominate "Rocco Tatum."

by crc (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 7:34pm

I'd say the Dolphins would be best signing a vet, and capitalizing on their defense and run game. We've seen many teams do this in the recent past with lackluster QBs, Pittsburgh last year (no offense to Big Ben), Chicago this year, Baltimore for several years. This seems to be the best plan to bring along a younger QB drafted sometime this year (not necessarily in the first round) and still please fans by winning.

by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 7:51pm

Philip Rivers would be a good fit in Miami, and the Dolphins will be picking at a point in the draft where they can move that first round pick and not feel too badly about it. That said, I'm not so sure the Dolphins are going to bring anyone in. Sage Rosenfels has looked impressive, and Lemon was a terrific developmental prospect who was better than Rivers in every preseason game. At some point you have to stop bringing in quarterbacks that other teams have developed and just concentrate on developing your own. There is no reason why Rosenfels shouldn't be a better quarterback option for the team than Jon Kitna- he's got a better arm, he's younger, and he's familiar with the system and the players.

by lagfish (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 8:00pm

THe 'Phins Randy Mueller's MO has been to stock up on QB's mostly through mid to low round draft picks. He has a pretty good track record.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 9:05pm

Assuming that Philip Rivers has talent somewhere between Roethlisberger and Manning (where he was drafted), I sure wouldn't mind Miami getting him. Nothing better than a top prospect who has spent 2 seasons studying on the bench.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 9:19pm

hat said, I’m not so sure the Dolphins are going to bring anyone in. Sage Rosenfels has looked impressive,

Then why does Miami keep starting Frerotte? Especially this week in a meaningless game for both teams? If Rosenfels has a shot at being the future, wouldn't he start against Tennessee?

by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 10:45pm

It sure does seem as if there's a shallow pool of current quarterback from which the Dolphins could draw. No free agents which look good. No hot back-ups being peddles around. Even the draft doesn't looks so good to me (I'm not a Leinert fan; high on Brohm, though). I haven't seen a name mentioned yet in this thread which made me believe that quarterback is a +2/3 win player relative to Ferotte (which is what Miami would have needed this year to make the playoffs).

Patrick Ramsey?
Tim Rattay?
Matt Schaub?

What, really, are the options here? I supposed, if were a 'Phins fan, I'd want to see Schaub.

by Paul (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 10:48pm

Oh, c'mon guys, the solution is obvious: Since Rosenfels and Freroote both were drafted by the Skins, it is clearly a requirement for the job. Patrick Ramsey is young, and has a great arm, and would be just so perfect for Miami ...that is, if you're a Jets fan.

by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:33am

If you picture the headline being screamed out by Lewis Black, it makes it like 10X more funny.

by Bart (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:54am

Re #10 and #20,

As a fan of the Dolphins and a resident of Vancouver, BC, who has seen both Dickenson and Printers play, Miami should stay far away from both.

Here is Dickenson's NFL Career:

Released by the Detroit Lions on February 28. 2002: Released by the San Diego Chargers on August 31; Signed by Seattle Seahawks on September 3 (released at end of the month); Miami Dolphins; Detroit Lions. 2001: San Diego Chargers.

Printers went undrafted in the NFL.

by Jason (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 2:40am

Getting Culpepper is comical...like the vikings would give up on him after one sub-par year, marred by an injury. What is there back-up plan? Brad Johnson in his 25th year in the NFL...c'mon...they got rid of Randy to put the spotlight on Daunte. They won't give up on him after one year, bring it up at the end of next season. Saban is showing that he can compete with 0 quarterback and will go with a less prominent player and focus on the defense.

by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 3:27am

This is a little off-topic, but does anyone really understand the two QB trades of the season? Cleo Lemon for a draft pick and A.J. Feeley, a player who couldn't get a starting job over Gus Frerotte, and Tim Rattay to Tampa Bay for a draft pick?

What were Mike Nolan and Nick Saban thinking?

by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 5:53am

Mike Nolan was thinking that Alex Smith is the future of the franchise, so he might as well play. Plus they need the draft picks. And he's right.

Nick Saban was thinking that Cleo Lemon is better than AJ Feeley. And he's right.

What more needs to be explained?

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:23pm

Anyone who thinks Miami will be fine at QB is smoking a gift from Ricky Williams. Looking at the DPAR ratings, it seems that all playoff contenders are led by a QB with a DPAR of 20. So, unless Miami is going to end up with the Bears defense, they'll need to find some fix. No one else watches Dolphin games and sees Chambers, McMichael, Brown/Williams and thinks "This offense should be a lot more potent?" They also need a #2 WR as well...

My plan would look like this:
1) Target Kitna, McNair, or Aaron Brooks (he needs a change)
2) Draft a QB 3-5 round
3) Veteran has starting job, young players fight it for backup

The problem with this is the significant drop-off between starting and back-up QB. What teams are ready to lose their starting QB? Quick, name the Giants backup QB!

by Oldcat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:54pm

I wouldn't be so sure that Kitna will leave the Bengals. The team doesn't have a good replacement (Craig Krenzel is the #3), and he is very popular here. There is lots of talk of him moving to QB coach after he retires.

He might be interested by a few years of starting, but another 1 year gig to train up his replacement might not be so tempting. Especially since you can't rely on a coach to be as disciplined as Marvin was to make a clean switch.

On the other hand, maybe re-uniting with Gus Ferotte in a QB controversy would bring back nostalgic memories of the 2002 2-14 Bengals. Can Rickey Williams do a Corey Dillon impersonation?

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 2:02pm

I think Kitna could be a possibility, but actually am a big P.Ramsey fan... at times as a rookie, he looked really good here in DC (when he wasn't flat on his back 1.5 seconds after the ball was snapped)... of course, playing behind that O-line, and then subsequently having the Coach stomp on his confidence has made him a wreck the past 2 years...

However, I still think given a new setting, a mediocre offensive line, and the other weapons Miami offers, he could be a franchise QB.

by frank (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 2:24pm

Mueller has gone on record as saying that he will draft a QB in every draft. That said, it is highly unlikely that Miami doesn't bring in someone as #1 while Sage/Cleo and the new rookie develop and fight for spots (Gus will be joining his 7th team).

Miami will be in the range of #s 12-18 in the draft and may have a shot at Cutler (although as a fan, a Vandy QB is scary has hel)

by DNL (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 4:29pm

Does anyone else find it odd that the troika of Dolphins QBs are Gus, Sage, and Cleo?

It's like something from a bad fairy tale.

by Jamie T. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 4:31pm

Miami wont get McNair. However, they can get another TN QB. Billy V is up for a trade next off season. The front office, Billy and his agent Rosenhouse have all pretty much said the same.

by J.S. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 5:17pm

what nobody liked my Idea of Vinny and the Phins? (comment #11)

I thought you guys had a sense of humor, when did we all get serious here?

I am a Green Bay fan and at this point with J. Walker out with an Injury and maybe not coming back next year (his contract is up after this year) and Ahman Green possibly out for the remainder of his Career (they are not telling us how bad that tear was), I have a sneaky suspicion that Brett Favre may either call it quits or go to a team that has a slightly better O-Line than what he has right now.

Besides Miami is a heck of alot closer to his hometown of Kiln, Mississippi

Don't get me wrong, I would hate to see Brett go, but I also have to be realistic about it. we have had a great run with Brett at the helm and if the stars were aligned just right maybe even one more superbowl with him. But front office being what it has been the past couple of drafts. i have to wonder if the did not get a gift from Ricky Williams and smoke it

by DNL (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 5:52pm

I could totally see Favre coming into New Orleans for a season, bringing the Saints back to the city as some sort of post-Katrina triumph. And I'd approve.

by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 6:27pm


Favre has been emphatic that he will not play for any team other than the Packers. Also, I don't think he'll play for any coach other than Sherman.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 6:43pm

Well, Sherman won't be coaching the Packers next year. Maybe they can both go to New Orleans.

by J.S. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 6:48pm

I just think Favre is exhausted. he really hasn't had to run around in the pocket like this year in a while. and he has absolutley no supporting cast anymore. so we will see. it has to end sometime so why not try and end on a slightly higher note than this season. I know he still has the ability to throw over 3,000 yards a seson for at least two more, and if he can get a decent running back behind him and a wide reciever or two who could make palys over the secndary of any team then he could make any team a competior for the off season.

but like I said, we fans of the frozen tundra(and most importantly me) will be watching to see what happens.

by J.S. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 6:51pm

RE 41

OK who is Pappa Bear, Moma Bear and Baby Bear?

Papa Bear- Gus "it's too hot"
Mama Bear- Sage "its too cold"
Baby Bear- Cleo "it's just right"

or how about a bad Cinderella Story?

or better yet get Coach Saban involved and make it a rumplestiltskin horror

by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 8:02pm

As a 'Fins fan, the ideal solution would be Culpepper, (assuming Brady, Manning or Palmer are unavailable :) ), but realistically, it's not gonna' happen.

McNair sounds good, but at this stage of his career, would he be worth the contract he'd want? If he's fully fit probably, but if he gets healthy then surely the Titans restructure his contract and keep him.

Beyond those two, the FA QBs don't seem a huge improvement on Frerotte, and anyone worth trading for is very unlikely to be available.

by Craig (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 8:18pm

As a longtime Dolphins fan growing up in a Jets household, my hero was Dan Marino. (I can still put an end to any family argument with 2 words: "clock play").

It pains me to watch the middling to horrible QB play they have had since he left. Since Saban really looks like he has this thing going in the right direction we have to get this right and do it within the next 2 seasons because that is where our window of opportunity is. There was a FO article not too long ago pointing out how good the fish are when they get a solid game out of the qb.

Next year you cannot bring back Frerrotte. I admire and really enjoy watching McNair but can he make the deep throws Linehan loves? Still, I'd take him. For what it is worth, I would be happy with any of the following next year:

Steve McNair
Kurt Warner
Phillip Rivers (I'll take my chances)
Matt Schaub (I like what I've seen so far)
Matt Leinhart

by yep (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 8:42pm

RE: #10

The Dolphins had Dickenson once.

And he's under contract, and this is not his option year, so he couldn't work out if he wanted to.

by Dan (not verified) :: Sat, 12/24/2005 - 12:37am

Guys, how's this one sound -- take a look into getting Chad Pennington from the Jets...odds are that after two years of shoulder injuries and Brooks Bollinger improving week in and week out, Pennington could be acquired cheaply.

There are two other possibilities that I could see -- option number 1 (no im not kidding with this one) is Shane Matthews of the Buffalo Bills to serve as a BACKUP to either Sage Rosenfels or Cleo Lemon. Matthews can step in and become a spot starter if these two struggle.

The final option, is go for another young, unproven QB -- among the canidates for this are Craig Nall (GB), Jim Sorgi (IND), a personal favorite of mine as a florida st. fan, Chris Weinke (CAR, and not so young anymore) or Brian St. Pierre (BAL). I feel that these are some of the diamonds in the rough that could become extremely sucessful if given an opportunity to fight for a starting job in the NFL

by Zac (not verified) :: Sat, 12/24/2005 - 1:02am

Re 43: J-Walk isn't a Free Agent until after the 2006-2007 season. That was the big hubabaloo with him wanting a contract extension (that he was 2 years away from free agency at the time).

by David (not verified) :: Sun, 12/25/2005 - 12:16am

Any body for calling Danny Wuerffel out of retirement? C'mon now, give him a call!

by jen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/26/2005 - 12:06pm

Where is Rohan Davie? He played for Sabin @ LSU, and Nick liked him enough to put a word in Bill's ear. Davie was the NFL Europe MVP the year he played there. He just didn't fit with NE style of play.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 12/26/2005 - 12:47pm

Jen (#55 )--

Well, Davey didn't look all that great in his limited playing time at actual NFL speed, in New England.

He's currently signed with Arizona (story linked), but was cut and re-signed at least once by the Cardinals already, so he probably could be acquired for simply the price of a contract.

There is something of a risk in a former college coach signing his old college players. It certainly didn't help Steve Spurrier.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 11:36am

I think a combination of his struggles with injury and the general suckiness of the Cardinals as a whole have somewhat masked how well Warner has played this season. The conventional stats don't show it, but pro-rate his DPAR (36.4, good for 19th as it stands) to 16 games rather than 9 (he started 10, but was injured in only his second series against Houston, having previously been 10/10 for 115 and a TD) and it leaps to 64.7, which would be good for 8th in the NFL, behind Brees and ahead of Roethlisburger. This in an offence that is totally incapable of running the ball, rendering play action worthless and allowing defenses to constantly use extra defensive backs. A team with an O-line that could keep him on his feet and thus give him a shot at staying healthy (Miami ranked 5th in adjusted sack rate) would be getting an excellent and comparatively affordable QB. To put it another way, if Miami had had Warner instead of Frerotte this year, they would have scored 60 more points than the 318 they did and would in all likelihood be divisional champions.

by Harry (not verified) :: Sun, 01/08/2006 - 6:25pm

Get Michael Robinson. He is from Penn State. He is so fast and he will lead you guys to a Superbowl. GO DOLPHINS!

by jared (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 1:02am

obviously dante is out, and i dont think that phillip rivers is gonna be an option with brees going down. I think Matt Schaub and John Kitna would both bring immediate upgrades to the dolphins current situation and their chance for a deep run into the playoffs. Schaub would be the more popular pick because of his age. Rosenfels will never be a productive starter in the NFL, dont have anything against him but he aint got the chops. If we can get rivers i would be thrilled but i think shaub is the best bet. We need someone though cause we aint going deep with frerotte.

by mike (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 8:18pm

Marino Come back!!!!

I'd Rather see Marino come out of retirement and play for the dolphins instead of J. Kitna playing as Starting QB.

Come on think.. Kitna is 34 years old.. Pepper is what 29? Pepper is younger and has alot more success then kitna lol.
I'd go for pepper.

Go fins
Screw Patriots.