By now, you’ve probably heard that much-maligned Dolphins quarterback Pat White has been shown his walking papers after one disastrous season in which he became just the fourth QB to not complete a single pass with at least five attempts since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. It’s hard to argue that it was the wrong decision, especially with three better-qualified players ahead of him on the depth chart, but I’m a little dismayed by how the situation was handled by the coaching staff.
The Dolphins never gave White much of a chance to succeed. During the regular season, he was inserted into the occasional ”Wildcat” formation in which he could never fully show what he had to offer aside from scrambling on the ground. In the final game, he was thrown into the fire against a stout Pittsburgh Steelers defense in the thick of the Playoff hunt. And then, in the 2010 preseason, White took nine total snaps (none in the fourth game), kneeling down three times and throwing (and completing!) four short passes in garbage time.
It’s clear that the Dolphins front office was convinced that White wasn’t part of the team’s future plans before the preseason started and didn’t bother to give him an extended look or attempt to increase his trade value for QB-needy teams. And that’s the part that I’ll never understand. The Dolphins are hardly the first team to give up on an early-round draft pick — hell, the Arizona Cardinals released Matt Leinart, the 10th overall selection in 2006 — but the fact that White wasn’t on the field for even a single quarter at the expense of injury-prone veteran Chad Pennington, who hardly needed the extra work, or given the opportunity to battle Tyler Thigpen for the third QB spot doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Of course, White isn’t without fault himself. There have been indications that his heart wasn’t fully into football after he took a vicious hit that knocked him unconscious during last year’s finale. Despite possessing the quickness (4.44 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine) and shiftiness that would make him well-suited to play part-time wide receiver, a la Brad Smith and Joshua Cribbs, White refused to switch positions and indicated that he’d rather play baseball. Those aren’t exactly the kind of words that management wants to hear out of players on the roster bubble.
Be that as it may, White is gone and somewhat surprisingly, wasn’t claimed off waivers despite having most of his 2010 salary paid by the Dolphins. I asked Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly to do some NFL Betting on where White will end up — the CFL, the New England Patriots, or the New York Yankees. Kelly didn’t even rule out a full retirement from football to be a “regular Joe” in White’s hometown.
Other News and Notes:
*Did the Dolphins think they could save some money by releasing TE David Martin and then re-signing him after the first week? It’s hard to believe Miami was prepared to rely on John Nalbone, who entered training camp fourth on the depth chart and didn’t blow anyone away during preseason, in its two tight end packages. Martin ended up signing with the Buffalo Bills, who quite coincidentally, I’m sure, happen to play the Dolphins in Week 1. The Dolphins could quickly end up regretting their decision.
*In a less surprising move, last year’s third-round pick, WR Patrick Turner, was released over the weekend and signed with the division-rival New York Jets. Undrafted rookies Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace must have extremely impressive during practice for the team to keep them at Turner’s expense, because there isn’t a glaring difference in the preseason numbers.
Turner could revive his career with the Jets while playing alongside his former USC QB Mark Sanchez, but chances are slim after he couldn’t get on the field last season and was beaten out by a pair of undrafted rookies in camp.
UPDATE: Yep, Turner has already been cut and is now on the Jets’ practice squad. So the Dolphins paid him a $714,000 signing bonus and $310,000 in salary to make zero regular season catches and become a practice squad player on a division rival a year later. Awesome. (more…)