Perhaps the Dolphins believe the best way to beat Tom Brady is to outscore him, not stop him.
Three days into free agency and the Dolphins’ top offseason priority is coming into focus: Make the offense as multiple and explosive as possible.
As for that defensive backfield? Worry about it later.
On the same day veteran cornerback Sean Smith split for Kansas City, the Dolphins again tried to bolster their passing game, meeting with threats Dustin Keller and Brandon Gibson.
Keller, a tight end formerly of the Jets, had an asking price the Dolphins wouldn’t meet. But Gibson, a 50-catch receiver with the Rams last season, might not leave town without a deal.
There was a sense of optimism Thursday that Gibson will end up with the Dolphins. He is said to be excited about joining Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess in what would be a potent offense.
Gibson arrived from New York on Thursday after meeting with the Jets, his first stop on his free agency tour. He is also scheduled to interview with the Titans, but that would be canceled if all goes well in South Florida.
Smith, meanwhile, left the coast for the cold, agreeing to a three-year, $18 million deal with the Chiefs, with $11 million of the contract guaranteed.
As for the Dolphins? They never actually made Smith an offer, according to a league source.
In the end, Smith ended up where Vontae Davis said he would. Two weeks ago, Davis tweeted that the Chiefs had wooed Smith before the allowed time, a tampering no-no. Davis later claimed his account was hacked, and Smith said it was all a big misunderstanding.
When asked if the NFL might investigate the Chiefs for possible tampering, the league told The Miami Herald: “We have nothing to report on that.”
David Canter, Smith’s agent, wrote Thursday on Twitter that “no proposals were [ever] discussed until yesterday.”
With Smith gone, the Dolphins’ top remaining corners are Richard Marshall and Dimitri Patterson.
Brent Grimes and Antoine Cason were among the free agent options still available Thursday night, but the Dolphins appeared to be in no hurry to address the position. The team had interest in Cason in recent days but has cooled on him since.
Meanwhile, Jake Long remained a man without a team, at least as of late Thursday. He spent a second day in St. Louis, deep in contract talks with the Rams, but a deal had not been reached. The Dolphins are interested in bringing Long back, but at their price.
Keller and defensive end Michael Bennett — who also met with the Dolphins on Thursday — might have heard much of the same. The New York Daily News reported Thursday night that Keller walked after the Dolphins balked at giving him a multiyear deal. Keller’s brother, Damien, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that Keller deserved a deal more in line with the blockbuster contract given to Jared Cook by St. Louis.
If the sides can’t come to terms, Plan B could be Oakland’s Brandon Myers.
Bennett, meanwhile, agreed to a one-year contract with the Seahawks shortly after meeting with the Dolphins.
“Smart move,” brother Martellus Bennett, the Bears tight end, wrote on Twitter. “Bet on yourself.”
The inference: Michael Bennett will try to earn a better deal in 2014 than he was being offered by Miami and others in 2013.
But the Dolphins simply bringing him in signaled they are looking to improve, whether there’s an incumbent starter at the position or not.
Their other guests Thursday — linebacker Thomas Howard and offensive lineman Lance Louis — suggested the same.
Howard, 29, and Louis, 27, are considered potential starters, but only if healthy. Each sustained an ACL tear last fall, and so their physical exams are as important as their interviews.
Louis, a 6-3, 320-pound guard, has played his entire career in Chicago. If signed, he would presumably compete with John Jerry on the right side. A deal was not imminent Thursday.
Howard, who last played with the Bengals, has started 78 games in his seven-year career. He would join Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler in a revamped linebacker unit.
Also on Thursday, the details for Wallace’s contract emerged; the five-year, $60 million pact includes $27 million in guaranteed money, Spotrac.com reported. The deal is said to have a salary-cap hit of $17.2 million in 2014 — a staggering amount usually reserved for quarterbacks.
But Wallace might already be on his way to justifying the expense. The Dolphins’ ticket office has had a great 36 hours, the team said, seeing an “immediate reaction” to Tuesday’s signings.
On a typical day, 40 people sign up for the team’s loyalty rewards program. On Wednesday, when Wallace was introduced, roughly 700 new users registered.