Greg Cote

Miami Dolphins’ offseason mystifies more than inspires

Arian Foster has not played since injuring his Achilles on October 25, 2015, against the Miami Dolphins.
Arian Foster has not played since injuring his Achilles on October 25, 2015, against the Miami Dolphins. adiaz@miamiherald.com

What is engraved on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty is part of a sonnet entitled The New Colossus that American poet Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883. The most famous line: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses …”

That page from American history occurred to us Monday with reports the Miami Dolphins had invited used free agent running back Arian Foster in for a Tuesday visit — the latest move in the club’s increasingly urgent effort to plug a gaping hole in its bow.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your back coming off major Achilles surgery…”

This well represents the problem with Miami’s offseason thus far in the free agency period that bridges the end of the past season with the coming NFL Draft.

The Dolphins lost their young, ascending running back, Lamar Miller, to Houston.

Now they are left to investigate recycling an aging, injury-damaged Houston discard in Foster.

Miami is understandably eager to import a veteran runner to augment young Jay Ajayi, who has not yet proven himself up to the No. 1 role.

They had C.J. Anderson in, but Denver matched the offer sheet. They had Chris Johnson in but lost him to Arizona. Evidently not all visitors are convinced this Dolphins roster and new coach Adam Gase will be enough to end the franchise’s playoff drought.

If Foster also turns down Miami, the search goes on.

If Foster says yes and signs, the Dolphins are getting a back who will turn 30 during the preseason, is coming off a significant injury and averaged 2.6 yards per carry before he got hurt (against Miami, as it happens) last season.

Sounds like a lose-lose situation. Who’s on deck? Ray Rice? Foster’s name still carries some cachet — he was really good as recently as 2014 — but pinning hopes on damaged goods is a risk, especially ay that position.

Plainly the Dolphins should have kept Miller, and easily could have. The former Miami Hurricane wanted to stay. Miami’s offer of $5 million per year was reasonable, but the Texans got him for $6.5 million a season. That difference is small change in the context of modern pro sports. All it took was a little more faith in Miller, a bit more foresight, for the Fins to avoid being in a position now to cross fingers on Foster passing a physical and maybe again being his old self, as opposed to just old.

For Miami the offseason has been one of settling, and gambling.

The trade for linebacker Kiko Alonso gambles that he will be the player he was as a rookie in Buffalo, not the huge disappointment he turned into in Philadelphia.

The risk on Byron Maxwell, gotten in the same deal in which Miami traded down in the first round, is the uncertain notion he’s up to be a No. 1-caliber cover corner.

The lavish spending in guaranteed money for safety Isa Abdul-Quddus presumes that a man with only two interceptions in 74 career games (only 16 of them starts) suddenly will be starter-quality here.

The risk with defensive end Mario Williams? He’s 31 and coming off a bad season that led Buffalo to release him outright. He also carries the baggage of a reputation as not a great teammate.

Miami also might have solved a major hole at the guard position by signing Eagles free agent Evan Mathis, but watched Arizona get him instead.

This helps explain why the Dolphins, coming off a 6-10 season, have sunk to a tie for 28th in current Super Bowl odds, ahead of only the Titans and Browns.

People aren’t buying the Dolphins’ March makeover.

It’s an uninspiring reboot that has thus far failed to kindle much optimism in the huddle masses of tired, waiting Dolfans.

Read Greg’s Random Evidence blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote.

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