Ahead of the start of the three-day negotiating window for teams and agents that will precede the official start of free agency on Tuesday afternoon, the Dolphins have locked up two key players, wide receiver Brian Hartline and quarterback Matt Moore.
Hartline, coming off the first 1,000-yard season of his career, reportedly signed a five-year deal worth just under $31 million, with $12 million guaranteed.
According to Jeff Darlington of NFL.com, who broke the news of Moore's re-signing, the quarterback got a two-year, $8 million deal.
By re-signing Moore, the Dolphins avoided a potential problem. Ryan Tannehill is the undisputed starter on this team, but Moore is just about the perfect backup — someone good enough to be a starter but also a team-first guy who will accept his role.
It was widely expected that Moore would test the free agent market in the hope of landing a starting job somewhere — or at least the opportunity to compete for a starting job.
Had Moore left, the Dolphins would have been in the market for a new backup because, even though they're high on the long-term potential of Pat Devlin, he has yet to throw a pass in an NFL regular season game.
And all you have to do is take a quick look at the quarterbacks available in free agency to realize that Moore was clearly the best option.
Speaking at the NFL scouting combine last month, GM Jeff Ireland was asked how badly he wanted to have Moore back.
“There’s a lot of reasons why you’d want Matt back on your football team," Ireland said. "Matt’s been an outstanding teammate. Been a good mentor for Ryan. He was excellent when Chad (Henne) and him were in the room last year. So there’s a lot of things of why you would want him back in the football team."
The re-signing of Hartline was just as important, if not more.
The Dolphins have made it clear they want to upgrade their passing game in 2013, but adding a free agent from another team while losing Hartline would have been taking a step forward and then a step back.
Fact it, the former 2009 fourth-round pick has become a quality wide receiver.
Much has been made of the fact he scored only one touchdown last season — the 80-yarder during his monster game at Arizona — but it also should be pointed out he has led the Dolphins in average per catch all four years he's been with the team.
With Hartline back in the fold, the Dolphins could find themselves with a very good top-three group at wide receiver if they can land the player perceived to be their top free agent, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Had Hartline left, the Dolphins would have found themselves with a big need for not one but two wide receivers.
Now, the Dolphins can move forward with two significant needs already addressed.