By Marek Brave (@MBrave13)
Monday, Legal Tampering begins!
The legal tampering period for NFL free agency began on Monday, March 15th, and we Dolfans sat with bated breath waiting for Miami to make the big splash we’ve grown accustomed to over the past few offseasons. We had visions of broken tackles from speedy running backs flashing in our mind’s eye and dreams about shifty slot receivers catching a five-yard screen pass, whipping up some shake and bake before whizzing past the last line of defense. We wanted playmakers to help Tua grow into the top-ten passer we all know he can be.
The first few minutes went by. ‘Okay, no big deal. We’re just sifting through potential offers right now. I can be patient,’ we thought to ourselves. Before we knew it, the first hour had came and went. Still no splashy signings for the Dolphins, yet New England made waves, signing everyone under the sun. “No team wins a Super Bowl in March,” we nervously whispered under our breaths.
The seconds, minutes, and eventually hours ticked by, and with each agonizing notification on Twitter telling us our rivals were signing player after player, we grew more desperate. The first day of legal tampering was done, and Miami had signed…*checks notes* a punter and a special teams player. That signing didn’t help Tua or the Miami Dolphins’ offense. We cried ourselves to sleep.
TUAsday, was much of the same
Tuesday rolled around, and we woke with renewed hope that Grier would make a move and sign someone, anyone, to help breathe life into the Dolphins’ offensive game plan. Tuesday came and went, and after assessing the situation, we realized Miami signed a backup QB, a backup RB, and some defensive depth. ‘Oh no, we’re toast!’ we screamed into our pillows as night fell.
Wednesday morning came. We trudged downstairs with our heads hung low, slowly making our way to the refrigerator to fetch ourselves a cold can of Coors Light. Using St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to have a drink at 7 a.m., we knew the sweet, sweet taste of beer was just a way to drown our sorrows we had acquired while assessing the sorry state of Miami’s free agency period so far. The rest of the day was an alcohol-fueled blur, but by nightfall, the Dolphins had signed Robert Foster, a speedy WR from Alabama who had five catches total the past two seasons in Buffalo and Washington. More beer was needed to soothe the pain.
As we came to on Thursday morning, with raging headaches and nauseated stomachs, we tried to rationalize what was happening to our beloved team by looking at the WR market. There were still some quality names on the list. Could Miami make a move today? Could they finally help Tua like they said they needed to?
The Dolphins finally got Tua Tagovailoa a weapon!
Then it happened. At 2:53 pm, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted the news we had been waiting for since free agency started 1,857 days ago (I may be exaggerating). Will Fuller, the former Houston Texans WR, was signing a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins. Bells rang out! Angels sprouted wings! Fathers, mothers, and babies cried tears of joy into their open palms. A savior was on his way to South Florida! All was well with the world!
Excuse my dramatization, but it did feel like Will Fuller saved the entire offseason for the Miami Dolphins, at least in the fans’ eyes. Before that, we all were scratching our heads, wondering when Grier would pull the trigger on an impact FA who could greatly benefit the Miami offense in a starting capacity. Fuller emphatically answered our questions last Thursday.
You may recall that in a previous article, I had listed Will Fuller as a MAYBE when discussing which free agent WR made the most sense for Miami to sign. His injury history was a concern, but the real problem for me was Spotrac was projecting Fuller to earn an average of $17 million per season. But, when the numbers came in for Fuller, he ended up pocketing just north of $10 million from the Dolphins. Talk about a steal! Miami now has a full season, minus one game that Fuller will be suspended for violating the league’s rules on PED use, to evaluate the speedster before deciding whether to sign him to a long-term deal or slap him with the franchise tag next offseason.
What does Will Fuller bring to the table? How will he improve Tua Tagovailoa’s play and Miami’s offense as a whole? Let’s break it down.
Here are Fuller’s career numbers according to Pro Football Reference:
Fuller has been a big-play machine over his five-year career, averaging an astounding 9.3 yards per target and an incredible 14.9 yards per reception. He’s also coming off of an 8 touchdown season in just 11 games played. The Texans leaned on him to replace DeAndre Hopkins as their number one target this past season, and even though many worried that he wouldn’t be able to handle that true top pass-catching spot without Nuk in the fold, he proved the doubters wrong and genuinely thrived.
The addition of Will Fuller will allow Tua to finally have a legitimate deep threat. Fuller has all-world speed and can stretch a defense, but unlike Miami’s previous deep ball guy, Jakeem Grant, Fuller has excellent hands, only dropping three passes on 75 targets last season. PFF ranked Tua’s deep ball as one of the best in college football when entering the draft, so this is seemingly a match made in football heaven.
When Fuller blows the top off of opposing defenses, that will open lanes underneath for guys like DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Mike Gesicki, Lynn Bowden, and any/all incoming rookie pass catchers. Tua will have plenty of options when deciding where to throw the ball this season.
There is still work to be done in the draft.
Miami will likely add a rookie receiver in Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, or Devonta Smith. Kyle Pitts may also be on their radar. Running backs Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, or Javonte Williams could also find themselves in South Florida after the 2021 NFL Draft. Miami is in an excellent position to continue to surround The Left Arm of God™ with weapons. They’re off to a good start with Will Fuller.