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Dolphins' quarterback chase enters next stage

The Dolphins have courted a bevy of quarterbacks this offseason and lost out on every one of them. Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and Alex Smith made visits to Miami before choosing to sign elsewhere, leaving everyone asking: What's wrong with this team?

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross knows his baby is under fire, and took time this week to reach out to a livid and longtime season ticket holder who helped stage Tuesday's fan protest against the team. In a 27-minute conversation, Ross didn't hold back, explaining the fate of wideout Brandon Marshall and why Miami lost out passed on Flynn and Smith.

Quick sidenote: The fan who took the call from Ross, Jason Lawrence, admitted to the South Florida Sun Sentinel: "I was nervous as hell. I was shaking, and everything. I thought they were going to be upset."

Despite his fear, Lawrence gleaned revelations from Ross, who explained that Flynn wasn't a Dolphin because coach Joe Philbin didn't want him, and neither did the owner at $8 million a year.

Smith's $8 million-per-year was equally suspicious to Ross, who wasn't sure the 49ers quarterback could even beat out last year's starter, Matt Moore.

As for Tim Tebow, nobody viewed him as a fit. Bottom line.

The message from Ross is pretty clear: Outside of Manning, none of these quarterbacks were viewed as a sure thing. The Alex Smith jokes aside, his price tag is reasonable for a starting quarterback coming off a trip to the NFC title game, but who can argue Ross on Flynn? Two sizzling starts, but possibly fool's gold.

So what now for the Dolphins at quarterback? A few options come to mind:

1. Do whatever it takes to grab Ryan Tannehill: The Browns hold the cards here with the No. 4 pick in the draft. Some predict Cleveland might go with Tannehill, despite their voiced belief in Colt McCoy. The Texas A&M passer is widely viewed as the third best quarterback available after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and he could fall to Miami at No. 8 if the Browns trade their pick or go in the direction of Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon.

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2. Fall in love with Brandon Weeden: He's 28 years old, but in a good way. Noted for his maturity, Weeden can spray the ball to all spots on the field and is seen by some as a player you might start from Day One. The Chris Weinke scenario hangs in the air as a cautionary tale, but Weeden and the Dolphins feel like a match. And why not? He could be there in the second round at No. 42, but in a quarterback-hungry league, that's a mighty gamble. If they want him, Miami probably needs to climb back into the first round.

3. Less is Moore: Ross appears willing to go into next season with Moore as his quarterback. March has been a lesson in humility for last year's starter, watching Manning, Flynn and Smith roll through, but it might be his job to lose come training camp. People forget that Moore helped a winless Dolphins team finish 6-3 down the stretch, throwing 16 touchdowns to nine picks in 12 starts. He tied Philip Rivers for 10th in league in touchdown percentage and his passer rating was 12th in the NFL, better than Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco and Cam Newton, to name a few.

4. The rest of the roster: The recently signed David Garrard has 76 NFL starts under his belt, but coming off back surgery, it remains to be seen what's left in the tank. Pat Devlin is nothing if not a project.

The Dolphins have openly sought help at quarterback, but is it possible this team already has their man? Tell us what you think.

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