DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins are ripe with cap space heading into free agency, but will have several key defensive contributors to address if the team wants to remain a contender for the NFL playoffs.
The Dolphins’ best defensive player last year was cornerback Brent Grimes. The Pro Bowl cornerback vastly outplayed his one-year contract and stands to make a lot of money on his next contract, probably. The question is will it be with the Dolphins or not?
Grimes is a shutdown corner, but he will be 31 before the season begins and giving a 31-year-old cornerback a hefty long-term contract might not be in the Fins’ best interests. Miami wants to sign Grimes, but it will be at Miami’s price, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.
In addition, there will be plenty of solid young cornerbacks available during free agency including: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Sam Shields, Alterraun Verne and Aqib Talib.
While cornerback may be up in the air, the defensive line is also a big question mark for the Dolphins heading into free agency. The Dolphins had Randy Starks and Paul Soliai at defensive tackle for the 2013 season, but neither may be starting for Miami when the 2014 season rolls around.
Both Starks and Soliai are unrestricted free agents and the Dolphins haven’t shown much urgency to get either one under contract. According to the Herald, there is a solid market for Soliai who is a run-stuffing nose tackle and former pro bowler.
It looks like both will be allowed to test the free agent waters, barring a major push from the team. Looking at the NFL Draft, there are several good defensive tackles that may be available when the Dolphins are picking in Round 1 including: Aaron Donald, Timmy Jernigan, RaShede Hageman, and others.
The Dolphins are expected to have upwards of $36 million in cap space for the upcoming season to throw at free agents and draft picks. The Fins could clear up more cap space by reworking Mike Wallace’s $17 million cap figure (though the Herald reports that hasn’t been discussed), by cutting Dimitri Patterson ($5.4 million cap hit), or cutting Philip Wheeler (though it would create a lot of dead money).
But, the Dolphins also have major needs along the offensive line that have to be addressed, most likely through the draft. With the Fins set to use a lot of resources to completely rebuild a non-existent offensive line, figuring out what to do with Grimes, Starks, and Soliai becomes a key offseason priority.
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