His full proper name is William Vincent Fuller V. So, yes, there are choices on how to address the Miami Dolphins’ newest veteran wide receiver.
We can go with Will Fuller...
Or William Fuller...
“Man, you can call me whatever you want. Just don’t call me William,” Fuller said Friday afternoon after a Dolphins OTA practice. “You can call me Will. You can call me V. Just don’t call me William.”
Glad that’s cleared up. But that’s not the point.
The point is if the gamble both the Dolphins and Fuller took during free agency in agreeing to a one-year deal works out just right, well, all of South Florida should know Fuller’s name by the end of the 2021 NFL season.
“Oh, yeah, for sure. I’m here to help this team win, and I believe I can do that,” Fuller said enthusiastically. “So I’m excited for the team and what we can do this year, and South Florida.”
There’s excitement in the air about the Fuller acquisition because he’s not just another receiver addition — of which the Dolphins have had many in recent years that didn’t necessarily work as planned.
Fuller is a proven NFL contributor. He’s not a rookie learning the speed of the game. He’s done it in the NFL regular season and the playoffs. There will be no learning period with this guy.
And that’s exciting.
Fuller’s contribution has historically come via the big play. And that’s really exciting.
Last year, for example, Fuller caught a 77-yard pass. That’s no fluke as he’s also caught 73-, 59- 54- and 53-yard passes in his career.
He averaged over 18 yards per catch in five of the 11 games he played. He went for 100 yards or more in five of the 11 games he played. He caught a career-high eight touchdown passes in those 11 games.
So Fuller not only produces, but that production often comes in big chunks.
And when the production doesn’t result in points, it often translates into first downs. Last year, for example, Fuller converted a first down on 38 of his 53 receptions.
Since 2018, Fuller has converted a first down on more than 50 percent of his catches. So when he does get the ball in his hands, it means his team is likely keeping it for a while longer.
“Just overall talent,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said, explaining why the Dolphins signed Fuller to his $10.625 million contract. “He has obviously very good speed, but good hands, good after the catch, good as a route runner, smart, can play multiple positions. That’s one area that obviously we feel good about, but he does a lot of good things and I think he’ll bring a lot of competition to the room.”
The Dolphins must have envisioned the competition when they drafted Jaylen Waddle with their first overall pick of the first round, signed Robert Foster in free agency, and returned Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns from their opt-out year.
But of all those additions for 2021, Fuller’s combination of experience, past production and elite speed make him perhaps the most big-play ready player of the group.
So getting him was a big move.
“This is my first free agency so I took it as, I wanted to go to a team that wanted me,” Fuller said. “The Dolphins showed the most interest. That’s why I chose the Dolphins. I know we have a great team here, we can do great things.
“I love the culture here. It’s just been easy to be here. And, as I said, I’ve been in the building as much as I can. I enjoy being here so I’m happy the Dolphins decided to take a chance on me.”
Flores doesn’t quite see the addition as the team “taking a chance.” He sees Fuller as something of a complete package.
“I think he’s smart, he’s tough, he’s competitive, he’s talented,” Flores said. “We had multiple conversations during that process and [he is a] team-first guy and just felt like he would bring competition and talent into the room. As many talented players as we can bring in and guys who are willing to compete and improve our team, that was the goal.”
It’s too early to see any dividends on the Fuller addition yet. Teammates haven’t seen Fuller’s 4.32 40-yard dash speed in the current glorified walk-through drills.
“Little glimpse,” linebacker Jerome Baker said. “You don’t really see the top-end speed just yet. You don’t really expect guys to open up fully yet. But I’m definitely excited just to see all the new guys and see what they bring to this team. So I’m excited.”
Fuller will miss the regular-season opener as he serves the last game on a 2020 suspension for a violation of the performance-enhancing drugs policy. But afterward, the roster’s most proven speed receiver promises to acquaint everyone in South Florida with his game.
“Yeah, I mean, you can’t teach speed, and we do have that on this team,” Fuller said. “Not just me and Waddle, there are other players with speed, too. It’s going to be fun. We’re going to do what the coaches ask of us and we’re going to be playing fast and we’re going to make some stuff happen.”