Last offseason the Miami Dolphins attracted a lot of attention for their signing of speedster receiver Mike Wallace. The two sides agreed on a five-year, sixty-million dollar deal, with a guarantee of thirty-million dollars. The deal made Wallace the fourth highest paid receiver in the league. With the aggressive free agency move to improve the receiving corps, the Miami Dolphins made it clear that they were looking to surround then second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill with as many targets as possible. After a disappointing end to the season, the Dolphins offensive unit was in need of a makeover. Fortunately, the front office has done their part in trying to improve the offense.
Over the course of the next few days, I will be previewing what this year’s wide receiving group will look like. With that being said, I’ll start with the Dolphins leading wide receiver over the past two years, Brian Hartline.
With all the eyes on Mike Wallace, no one outside of Miami noticed fifth year receiver Brian Hartline. This should not have been the case. Coming off a season in which he hauled in over a thousand yards for the first time, Hartline was ready to prove to everyone that he is not a one hit wonder. Let me tell you something, he certainly showed his worth. In his first chance to receive for over a thousand yards in consecutive seasons, he succeeded. Not only did he succeed, but he also increased his amount of touchdowns caught, finishing the season with four (one in 2012).
Coming off yet another brilliant year, Hartline’s confidence is at an all-time high, as he is in the right place both physically and mentally. When asked how his body is feeling, Hartline responded with “I feel good. I’m just being smart, letting time do its thing.” He also had high praise for the system that new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has implemented. “It’s really interesting. I’ve never been in an offense like this, how it’s called, how it’s run, the combination routes,” Hartline said. “It’s really exciting and actually I’m really enjoying it. You can tell it puts a smile on my face. I can’t wait to learn more, do more and then put it into action.”
Heading into the second year of a new five-year, $30.77 million deal, Hartline will continue to serve as a consistent target for Tannehill. Last year, Hartline was a great safety blanket for Tannehill, as he led the team with fifty-three first downs. Since coming into the league, Hartline continues to improve each year. And as Tannehill and Wallace persistently work on their on-field relationship, space for Hartline will continue to open. To match that, Miami re-tooled their line by signing Branden Albert and drafting Ja’Wuan James. With these moves, Miami is anticipating that Tannehill will have more time to release the ball - an obvious bonus for Hartline.
Although many questioned the idea of paying a number two wide receiver thirty-million dollars, Hartline has blossomed into a reliable receiver in Miami, having an integral role in Miami’s offense the past two seasons. In what being talked about as a “make or break” year in Miami, expect Hartline to remain a great option for Ryan Tannehill. In fact, don’t be surprised if Hartline ends up leading the team in receiving for a third straight season.