Leonard Davis worth it in free agency?
He plays the left tackle position which is highly valued in the NFL. He has started 91 games and stayed healthy since the Cardinals made him the second overall pick in the 2001 draft. And he's the best player available at his position in free agency.
But that doesn't answer this question: Is he worth a huge investment for the Dolphins?
Obviously the Dolphins need a starting caliber LT and Davis would be an upgrade at the position over what has been there the last half-dozen years or so. But that still doesn't answer the question.
That's because Davis will want, and probably get, a contract with $10-$15 million in guaranteed money when free agency opens in a couple of weeks. And that is a lot of cash for someone who was OK but never great in Arizona.
Understand that the Cardinals know Davis better than any other team. They've seen everything from his practice habits to eating habits and have decided they don't want to keep him. Apparently, the Cards decided, Davis isn't worth the investment of tagging as a franchise player.
That's because the guy is not a star and it would cost $11 million in guaranteed salary to tag him.
"When we evaluated Leonard, we certainly see ability and ... improvement, especially as last season went on," new Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said in a statement. "But when you look at the situation on the whole and take everything into account, we don't feel that the investment that would be required to keep him is equal to the performance."
So if the Cardinals, the team that knows Davis best, the team with plenty of cap room, decided not to invest heavily in Davis, why should the Dolphins? Why should Miami pay more in guarantees than the Cardinals are willing to pay in a franchise tag?
Miami made that kind of mistake on a smaller scale last year -- signing Arizona and Cleveland castoff L.J. Shelton to a tidy deal when, really, no one else was clamoring to get him. Shelton failed to meet expectations at the left tackle position and now is a highly paid guard.
Those who say line coach Hudson Houck would be able to inspire a renaissance in Davis said the same thing about Shelton last year. It could happen, but that is not certain, as the Shelton situation proved. And the Dolphins, with the least cap room of any AFC East team, are in no position to make a huge $10-$15 million gamble.
Nope, the Dolphins have so many other needs that investing soooo much on this one position in free agency doesn't really make a ton of sense. They need a LT, yes, but they need one that is more likely to cause headaches for his opponents than Miami's salary cap.