Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins enter the 2013 calendar year with plenty of questions surrounding a roster that over-performed at times and looked completely overmatched at others.
The Fins have two things that teams looking to build around a solid core need: a plethora of draft picks and tons of salary cap space. The Dolphins own five picks in the first 100 of April’s NFL Draft, including the 12th overall pick.
All total, the Dolphins have 10 picks in the draft including: the 12th selection, 42nd, an additional second round pick to be determined, 77th, 82nd, a fourth, fifth, and sixth round pick along with two seventh round picks.
The Dolphins salary cap situation is yet to be completely determined, but the team will carry over upwards of $6 million in cap space from last season, according to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. The NFL is estimating the 2013 salary cap to be around $121 million, meaning the Dolphins will have approximately $127 million in its salary cap, the Post reported.
Currently, the Dolphins have around $76 million committed to the cap in 2013, meaning the team has almost $50 million in salary cap space next season.
That’s the good news. The bad news is the Dolphins have numerous key free agents the team must determine whether or not to re-sign.
Among the Dolphins free agent class are running back Reggie Bush, tight end Anthony Fasano, wide receiver Brian Hartline, kicker Nate Kaeding, left tackle Jake Long, cornerback Sean Smith, and defensive tackle Randy Starks.
Bush and Hartline are likely to be resigned if possible and keeping Starks next to Paul Soliai would keep together the Fins’ solid interior defensive line. Kaeding arguably would provide an upgrade over Dan Carpenter, who struggled at times in 2012.
Long may hit free agency unless he’s willing to take a contract that’s very friendly to the team. Rookie Jonathan Martin filled in for Long and settled in at left tackle late in the season and played well, giving Miami options at the position.
Smith is more of a mystery for the team. At times, he looked like a solid starting cornerback for the team and at other times, he was beaten badly by elite receivers. Smith has a rare combination of size and speed, but if he’s hoping for a huge contract, the Dolphins may pass.
Looking ahead to the NFL Draft, the Dolphins may be in line to acquire the top receiver in the draft in 6’3” wide receiver Keenan Allen. The junior suffered a knee injury last season which will help determine his position in the draft. In some ways, Allen is a similar receiver to the departed Brandon Marshall.
If he’s somehow still on the board, the Dolphins would likely jump on Alabama cornerback DeMarcus Milliner. He would provide an instant upgrade over Nolan Carroll, but will likely be long gone by the time the Fins come on the clock.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility for the team to spend another pick on an offensive tackle/guard to shore up the right side of the line, however, there are several free agents who could fill that role as well.
The Fins will look to upgrade the secondary and the wide receiving corps the most in the offseason. Among free agent defensive backs some of the top names out there in free agency include: William Moore, Jairus Byrd, Louis Delams and others.
As for wide receivers in free agency, the list includes: Dwayne Bowe, Greg Jennings, Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, and Danny Amendola.