Free agency starts March 9, but the Dolphins have already won the offseason.
On Wednesday, they signed six stars, including three Hall of Famers.
An important caveat, however: None is under the age of 40.
Dan Marino and Bob Griese were among a half-dozen Dolphins legends who signed one-day contracts Wednesday, allowing them all to retire members of the organization that benefited from their greatness.
Marino and Griese put pen to paper alongside wide receiver Nat Moore, guard Larry Little, defensive end/linebacker Kim Bokamper and cornerback Sam Madison.
While all but Madison finished their careers with the Dolphins, none actually were members of the team when they retired. Rather, they were free agents — a technicality the team corrected Wednesday.
“The fact that I’ve been a free agent for 16 years and no one’s called is very upsetting to me,” Marino joked. “Thank you for today. This organization, this team, this city, football, it all means so much to me.”
Tannenbaum has been putting together rosters for years. But he’s never before had a day like Wednesday — and probably never will again.
▪ A Hall of Famer and face of one of the league’s most historic franchises, Marino is a legend. He’s one of just three Dolphins whose jersey has been retired. In his 17-year career, Marino threw for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns.
“Now we’ve started the quarterback competition, right Adam?” Tannenbaum joked, speaking to Dolphins coach Adam Gase.
▪ Like Marino, Griese is both a Hall of Famer and had his jersey retired by the team. Griese, who played for Miami from 1967-80, was under center for the Dolphins’ Super Bowl titles.
Griese said that when he retired 37 years ago, he did so with one of the few guaranteed contracts. Griese injured his shoulder his final year and spent the season as an unofficial assistant coach for Don Shula.
Shula tried to convince Griese to stay on his staff after Griese’s playing career ended. His response: “Yeah, I love it, but I love my family more.”
▪ The Dolphins had a ground-heavy offense during those Super Bowl runs, and Little (1969-80) opened massive holes for Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris and Jim Kiick. Little earned induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Little, who turned 71 in November, estimates he earned $6,000, after taxes, when he signed his first NFL contract. And while looking over his new deal Wednesday, he joked that he could use representation: “My agent is dead.”
▪ Moore retired in 1986 after 13 seasons with the Dolphins, and when he did, he was the franchise’s all-time leader in catches, receiving yardage and touchdown receptions.
▪ Bokamper (1977-85) was a charter member of the Dolphins’ famed “Killer B’s defense,” appearing in Super Bowls 17 and 19. But to a new generation of Dolphins fans, he’s probably better known as a broadcaster and restauranteur.
▪ Madison teamed with Patrick Surtain to form an unbeatable corner tandem in the late ’90s and early 2000s. The four-time Pro Bowler had 31 career interceptions, third-most in franchise history.
The Dolphins broadcast the event on their website but closed it to both the public and the media. Team employees asked the questions, including one to Marino about Jason Taylor’s recent selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I’m so proud of Jason,” Marino said. “Just a dynamic player who makes something happen on the field every game he plays.”