Are the Miami Dolphins cornering the market on free-agent wide receivers? Brian Hartline already has cashed in with a contract that will rank around 20th at his position in average payout per season. General manager Jeff Ireland still is expected to land Mike Wallace as his great white whale, perhaps requiring the most lucrative contract in free agency.
It's not yet clear if Ireland envisions Gibson as a complementary piece or as a fall-back option in case he's beaten to the punch on Wallace. With Davone Bess entrenched as the slot receiver, we suspect it's the latter.
In a shallow free-agent market, there is increasing belief that Gibson could earn a bloated contract comparable to the five-year, $31 million deal Hartline signed a few days ago.
Finding soft spots on the sideline and over the middle while winning against lesser defensive backs, Gibson is coming off a fine season with career highs in receiving yards (691) and touchdowns (five) on 51 catches. Only Vincent Jackson and Lance Moore had a greater percentage of receptions that went for first downs.
Ireland's acumen on offensive skill-position players has left a lot to be desired in Miami. Gibson is a fine No. 3 receiver on a contender and a passable No. 2 on a team going nowhere. What he's not, however, is a threat to beat defenses deep in the vein of Wallace. It's hard to see where Gibson would fit in the Dolphins' plans.
Update: Citing a person with knowledge of the Dolphins' discussions with wide receivers, USA Today confirms that Gibson is indeed seen as a "fallback option" in case the team swings and misses on Wallace. Gibson is also expected to draw interest from the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills, completing the AFC East sweep.Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.