The Dolphins will watn to cut some dead weight this offseason, and will look to re-structure some contracts to add to the cap space, along with cutting some players. There is one main players that will need to be re-structured, Karlos Dansby. Karlos Dansby has around an $8M cap hit for 2013, and that will likely be non-negotiable. However, his cap hit takes a jump straight to $11M for 2014, the last year of his contract. That is a very high number for an aging LB. I see Dansby dropping the final year of his contract, opting to become a free agent after 2013. The Dolphins also will need to release one of their players due to his high salary. DT Tony McDaniel is making $4M in 2013, and that is way too much for someone who is our 4th best DT (I have Odrick moving back to DT). McDaniel should be cut, bringing our cap space up to $54M
In-House Free Agents
Randy Starks has played very well this season, and has played well throughout his career. He will be looking for a contract similar to the one DT Paul Soliai received last offseason (2 years, $12M). Starks makes $4.5M this season, and will be looking for a pay raise. I see him signing a longer contract than Soliai, with a little more money as well. I see Starks signing a 3 year, $24M contract with a 2013 cap hit of $8M.
Brian Hartline is considered this year's breakout player. Hartline's ability to do everything well is what has made him successful. Hartline will be a high priority to be re-signed, and he will be looking for a pay raise. He currently makes $1.3M in his rookie contract, but will be looking for some more money this season. However, I do not see him asking for too much more, because I doubt many other teams will value him as highly as the Dolphins will. I see him signing a moderate 4 year, $20M contract with a 2013 cap hit of $5M
Reggie Bush is one of the most electric RBs in the game, and had a fantastic start to the season. However, he had fallen off since then. In his place, RB Daniel Thomas has been getting a lot of carries. Thomas is also the type of RB that suits Mike Sherman and Joe Philbin's system, which uses a big, blocking RB. This, while not even considering the fact that rookie RB Lamar Miller is patiently waiting in the background. Reggie will be looking for a large contract, and I don't think Philbin values him as much as other teams will. I see the dolphins letting Reggie walk, preferring the Thomas/Miller duo.
Anthony Fasano is quietly putting together one of his best seasons as a pro. Fasano has been a true factor both as a receiver and as a blocker. I see the Dolphins opting to re-sign him rather than stick an unproven Micheal Egenw, who still needs some time to develop out there. However, Fasano knows his value, and will not be looking for too much. The Dolphins will resign him, but only as a stopgap until Egnew is truly ready. I see him signing a 2 year, $6M contract, with a 2013 cap hit of $3M
Sean Smith has really pulled it together this year, turning into a true shutdown corner. Smith should be resigned, especially as the market is thin at the corner position. The Dolphins can not afford to lose him, and he, like all corners, will be looking for big money. Once you take into consideration that his partner Richard Marshall is due $5M in 2013, you'll see why Sean Smith will get a big contract. I see him signing for a 4 year, 4 year, $28M contract, with a $7M 2013 cap hit.
Clemons currently makes $1.5M under his rookie deal, and he will not be looking for a big contract. Clemons is only barely average as a starting safety and should be pushed to a backup spot as the Dolphins look towards the draft to get a replacement to start across from Reshad Jones. They will, however, re-sign Chris Clemons to compete with the rookie and to provide a solid backup. I see Clemons re-signing to a 1 year, $2.5M deal with a $2.5M cap hit.
Jake Long has long been a fan favorite for the dolphins, and has been one of the league's most dominant tackles. However, he has really struggled this year, and has been injury-prone for the last few years. Long will be looking for a huge contract, totaling around $10M per year. I don't think the Dolphins will be willing to invest that much money on someone who never touches the ball, expecially when they have two young O-line centerpieces in Mike Pouncey and Jon Martin. I think the Phins will be wise to let Jake Long walk rather than invest too much money into him
After taking all of the resignings into account, the Dolphins lose $25.5 of their cap space, leaving them with a whopping $8.5M to sign new free agents and to sign their rookies.
Free Agent Additions
Andre Brown, OT
With Jake Long leaving, the Dolphins will need another starting quality OT. They can find one on the cheap in Andre Brown. Brown is a solid starting quality RT, and will be a good addition to the team. Signing Brown also allows to move young RT Jonathon Martin back to LT, the position he excelled at in college. Brown will not be too expensive, and should sign for a 2 year, $8M contract, with a cap hit of $4M.
Greg Jennings, WR
This will be the big splash for the Dolphins. The Dolphins are desperately in need of a legit number 1 WR, and Jennings provides just that. The Dolphins will be in the market for at least two quality WRs with current number 3 Jabar Gaffney walking. They will look for a number 1 guy and a big-bodied number 4 that can come in in the red zone. Jennings will fill the role of the number 1 WR. Jennings is familiar with the system, having played under Philbin for a long time, and is a humble guy with no previous character issues, and he will not complain for the ball. He is still fairly young at 29, and will give Tannehill another WR he can trust. Jennings will, however, be looking for a large sum of money after seeing WR Vincent Jackson get a big deal. I see Jennings signing for a 3 year, $35M contract, with a 2013 cap hit of $12M, but a descending cap hit after the first year.
Osi Umenyiora, DE
The Dolphins need a good pass rusher across from Cameron Wake. I see Olivier Vernon stepping up into that role, but they also need someone who can come off the becnh and provide some pass rush when Wake or Vernon are struggling or need some rest. Umenyiora has experience in that "5th starting D-lineman" role, coming off the bench as a pass rusher for the Giants. Umenyiora will also provide some more veteran experiance on a young team. Umenyiora, however, will be looking for quite a bit of money, and the 31 year old pass rusher will sign for a 2 year, $11M contract, with a 2013 cap hit of $5.5M
Stephen Mcgee, QB
With Matt Moore leaving via free agency, the Dolphins will need someone to backup Ryan Tannehill. It seems as if Pat Devlin is just waiting to take over that spot, but he will need some competition. Stephen McGee can give him that competition. McGee has played decently as Tony Romo's backup in Dallas, and has familiarity with the system, playing under Mike Sherman at Texas A&M
The dolphins enter the draft with a slew of draft picks and just as many draft needs. With their current record, I see them picking 16th in the draft, which place them right in the middle of the round. So, let's get started
1st round - Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
The Dolphins have a huge need at the CB position, and will be looking for a starter across from Sean Smith. Rhodes is the best option for that. Rhodes excels in press-man coverage, which is what DC Kevin Coyle loves, and is physical enough to run with even the fastest WRs. Rhodes should be the best option at this pick, and will give the Dolphins a solid CB corps
2nd round - TJ McDonald, S, USC
TJ McFonald is one of the top safeties in this year's class. McDonald has great instincts and is a hard hitter. He loves contact and isn't afraid to take risks. He also has the flexibility to play both safety positions, making him perfect for Coyle's scheme. He would be a great hard-hitting complement to the ball-hawking Reshad Jones.
TRADE!!! The Miami Dolphins trade the Indianapolis Colts' 2nd round pick for a 2014 3rd round pick, a 2013 5th round pick and a 2014 5th round pick
The dolphins decide to invest in next year's draft by trading down to pick up some extra picks.
3rd round - Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
The Dolphins will be looking for a starting quality OG to replace Richie Incognito, who appears to be a poor fit in Philbin's zone-blocking system. Larry Warford, on the other hand, would be a perfect fit with his athleticism and agility. He is not only a great pass blocker, but a solid run blocker as well. He should fit well with the team, and should be an immediate starter.
3rd round (from Bears) - Marcus Davis, WR, V-Tech
The Dolphins need a big number 4 WR who can come out in the red zone and give them a big bodied threat. Marcus Davis provides that and more. Davis, at a solid 6'4, 232 lbs, has the size to be effective in the red zone and can fight for the ball, making the jump balls needed to score TDs, but also has 4.45 speed and great explosiveness. He has put together a solid campaign this year, but would be doing even better if Logan Thomas were anything better than absolutely terrible. He reminds me of a younger Brandon Marshall without the attitude and craziness.
4th round - James Morris, OLB/ILB, Iowa
the Dolphins have a huge lac of depth behind he three starters at the LB spots. Add that in addition to the fact that Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett aren't getting any younger, and there is a solid case for taking a LB here. james Morris has great explosiveness and has the ability to become a playmaker with some development and coaching. He and Josh Kaddu would be a perfect tandem to learn behind Dansby and Burnett and potentially replace them in the starting lineup alongside Koa Misi.
5th round - Gabe Ikard, G, Oklahoma
After adding Warford as a starter in the 3rd round, the Dolphins starting O-line looks solid, but the depth will need some work. Ikard is a well-rounded guard, and could be a good backup. The Dolphins have some solid depth, but a few more pieces along the O-line won't hurt them in case of injury. Ikard can also eventually challenge John Jerry for his starting role.
5th round (from trade down) - Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
Ryan Swope has the potential to be a very good slot WR. He has the quickness and agility to play the position, along with the ability to break tackles. When I see him play, he reminds me of a younger Wes Welker. He, along with Rishard Mathews, would make solid 5th and 6th WRs. He also has familiarity with the playbook and with Tannehill, which should help him.
6th round (from Colts) - Cameron Marshall, RB, Arizona St.
With Reggie Bush leaving via free agency, the Dolphins need to add a young RB for depth behind Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller. The Dolphins already have Marcus Thigpen as the speedy RB to back up Lamar Miller, and Marshall is a solid plodder behind Daniel Thomas. At 233 lbs, he has the strength to run over defenders, and is also a solid pass blocker. Marshall has talent and could be the next Alfred Morris.
7th round - Aaron Donald, DT/DE/OLB, Michigan
The Dolphins need depth through their front 7, and Aaron Donald is the perfect depth pick. His versatility gives him the ability to play almost every front 7 position, which adds to his value. His versatility and his potential will prompt the Dolphins to take a flyer on him here.
Projected Final Depth Chart
QB: Ryan Tannehill, Pat Devlin, Stephen McGee
Powerback: Daniel Thomas, Cameron Marshall
Scatback: Lamar Miller, Marcus Thigpen
FB: Jorvorskie Lane
TE: Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay, Micheal Egnew
WR: Greg Jennings, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, Marcus Davis, Rishard Mathews, Ryan Swope
LT: Jonathon Martin, Will Yeatman
LG: Larry Warford, Nate Garner
C: Mike Pouncey, Josh Samuda
RG: John Jerry, Gabe Ikard
RT: Andre Brown
Total offensive: 26
DE: Olivier Vernon, Osi Umenyiora
DT: Randy Starks, Kheeston Randall
DT: Paul Soliai, Jared Odrick
DE: Cameron Wake, Derrick Shelby
OLB: Koa Misi, Jason Trusnik
ILB: Karlos Dansby, James Morris
OLB: Kevin Burnett, Josh Kaddu
CB: Sean Smith, Nolan Carroll
CB: Xavier Rhodes, Jimmy Wilson
Nickel CB: Richard Marshall
SS: Reshad Jones, Jonathon Martin
FS: TJ McDonald, Chris Clemons