Hyde: Dolphins sit still, Patriots are big (heh-heh) winners as free agency starts | Commentary

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Dave Hyde, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

I can sum up what was the most boring opening day in NFL free-agent history outside of one puritan-based, reversed-thinking, spend-happy franchise in four words:

The Patriots are done.

Dead. Mort. Finis. Fuhgeddabout’em.

If last season suggested it, Monday pushed them over the cliff.

They won the first day of free agency. They’re March’s champs. Remember how for the past two decades as the Miami Dolphins celebrated free-agent signings — Mike Wallace! Ndamunkong Suh! Mario Williams! Byron Jones! — the Dolphins won this day and New England coach Bill Belichick smugly refused to open his piggy bank by the hair of his chinny-chin-chin?

This year the Dolphins did nothing in the first hours of free agency and Dollar Bill became Desperate Bill without quarterback Tom Brady. It was like a reversal-of-fortune movie. Belichick’s appetizer was former Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux for two years and $16 million.

He wants Godchaux to stop the run when, well, the Dolphins need someone to do the same on their defense. So someone made a mistake here — and it wasn’t Godchaux, one of the good guys who gets some good money.

Belichick also spent $50 million on former Tennessee tight end Jonnu Smith. Then, to show he was having fun being this wild-and-crazy guy he dropped another $56 million for former Baltimore linebacker Matthew Judon and $26 million on receiver Nelson Agholor.

What the heck did they put in Belichick’s pregame meal?

It was like he’s had a late-life crisis and a Corvette won’t do. It was like he swiped team owner Bob Kraft’s credit card - though he didn’t reach for the check to pay guard Joe Thuney, who Patriot Pro Bowler who landed in Kansas City.

Actually, it was like Belichick was the Dolphins every other year — the one they spend big on. Just last year it was Jones, Kyle Van Noy and others to the tune of $143 guaranteed millions.

Dolphins fans wanting to turn Monday into a sign of being smart might want to re-phrase that. It’s a sign they had little money to spend — $32 million. And $12-15 million is needed to sign drafted players and operate next season.

So the Dolphins showed “restraint,” like a poor person does. Oh, they made a small move with Houston with Sunday’s trade of defensive end Shaq Lawson’s contract for linebacker Benardrick McKinney’s contract. That means they’re in the market for a pass rusher and a receiver. The market price hasn’t set for them. Stay tuned.

The larger suggestion in that trade is Houston and the Dolphins are talking, the telephones are working, business can be done between the teams — and someone surely mentioned, “Deshaun Watson.” Stay tuned to that channel, too.

This is a dangerous time for a Dolphins team on the edge of the playoffs last year. The top five teams with money to spend are in the AFC — and two are in the AFC East. The New York Jets got beat out of a couple of top hopes in Thuney and former Green Bay center Corey Linsley, who reportedly was signing with the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Patriots struck big and kept striking, too. It’s a depressed market in some ways. The salary cap, down 8 percent due to the pandemic, will no doubt rise appreciably in the next year so the Patriots can say they got these players for depressed prices.

But if you want to talk about depression and the Patriots talk about quarterback. Brady is getting fit for a Super Bowl ring in Tampa Bay and the Patriots brought back Cam Newton for $13 million.

This truly is something Dolphins fans know all about: Spend all you want, upgrade with free-agent buys anywhere, and if you have a lower-tier quarterback none of it matters.

The Patriots will oscillate between the six and 10 wins just like the Dolphins have done forever.

They’ll be just good enough to tease you they could be better.

But if the Patriots were done without Brady last season they’re doubly done after winning the first day of free agency. Dead, I tell you. Mort. Finis. Fuhgetabout’em.