Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins victory on Sunday was a hollow one because the team was eliminated from the playoffs. But, the game was also an audition of sorts for left tackle Jonathan Martin and running back Reggie Bush.
For Martin, he has taken over at left tackle for Jake Long after spending most of the season at right tackle. Martin has plenty of experience at left tackle, he spent multiple years in college protecting the blind side for Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.
Martin has stepped into the position once manned by Jake Long and has given the Dolphins something they desperately needed. With Martin’s success, the Dolphins can now look at releasing Jake Long and saving around $10-12 million in cap space.
That will push the Dolphins salary cap room further into the range of $40-plus million during the offseason. For a team that desperately needs some game-breaking playmakers, that’s just what the doctor ordered.
For Bush, he had his best game since Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Bush ran the ball 19 times for 65 yards and one touchdown and also caught four passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns. He also opened the door for Lamar Miller to get 10 carries for 73 yards against the Bills defense.
Overall this year, Bush has run the ball 219 times for 960 yards, or roughly 4.4 yards per carry. He also has six rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns in 2012. Bush will likely move past 1,000 yards on the season for a second year in a row if he gets at least 40 yards against New England this Sunday.
Bush will be a free agent in the offseason after completing his two year contract with the Dolphins. Miami will want to re-sign Bush, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald. But, the Dolphins will be smart with Bush and not overpay him.
Miami has that luxury with the presence of Miller and Daniel Thomas on the roster. While the Dolphins would love to have Bush back next year, they will make sure it’s at a rate closer to what they’re looking for and not necessarily what Bush is hoping to receive.
Bush was left for dead after failing in New Orleans, but put together a great two years in Miami and is only 27 years old, which is prime years for a running back.
Remember too, Miami has five draft picks in the first 100 picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Fins have succeeded this season when many expected them to struggle. A win on Sunday would even the record at .500 and give serious momentum heading into next season.
The momentum will give Dolphins fans hope for the future and make the offseason one of the most important in recent memory.