This Friday Miami Dolphins wide receiver, Brian Hartline, was released from the team after six productive seasons in South Beach.
The Ohio State product has been the team’s most consistent pass catcher since the Dolphins spent a fourth round pick on him in 2009. However, Hartline saw his normally consistent numbers dip drastically in 2014 after falling behind the depth chart to fellow receivers Mike Wallace and rookie Jarvis Landry.
Hartline graded out with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) -9.5 with 39 catches for 477 yards and two touchdowns this past season, a far cry from his 2013 numbers in which he accumulated a PFF grade of 8.4 to go along with 76 catches for 1016 yards and four touchdowns. Despite the lackluster production Hartline put forth in 2014, at 29 years old he is still a reliable receiving option with excellent hands.
Unfortunately for him he was simply phased out in Miami by more athletic and explosive receivers, areas Hartline simply does not excel in, and was no longer worth the price tag his contract commanded (he was due $5.9 million this year, the third of a five-year, $30 million contract). At 6’2″ Hartline is still a great outside receiver who uses his impressive size to box out defenders and his excellent leaping ability to catch the ball at its highest point.
The last time the New York Giants had a receiver with those qualities was Hakeem Nicks, now with the Indianapolis Colts, back in 2013. Quarterback Eli Manning loved Nicks for his reliable hands and ability to haul in catches on balls Manning would lob up to him in the red zone and longer third down situations.
Hartline could complement that explosive speed of receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz by bringing a steady handed presence to the receiving core that Manning could feel comfortable lofting the ball to when the pressure is on. He must avoid however become an afterthought in the offense as he did in Miami.
Wallace, Landry, and even tight end Charles Clay, pushed Hartline out of the picture as the younger receivers fit in new Dolphins offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, far better then the aging veteran. In New York he would be a complimentary piece in Ben McAdoo’s West Coast scheme to the Giants’ young receivers, running the short slants and curls to spread out the defensive coverage and allowing Beckham Jr. and Cruz to take the top off the defense.
Hartline brings career numbers over from Miami of 298 receptions for 4,243 yards and 12 touchdowns. If the Giants can snag Hartline on a below market contract, when other suitors get leery of shelling out to much for his services after his unimpressive last season, he could immediately become Manning’s safety blanket in the passing game and become another contributing piece for a team that is building for a postseason run.