DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins appear to be on the brink of making a huge splash in free agency by signing the most coveted defensive player on the market, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
The addition of Suh will instantly make Miami’s defense much better and fix one of its biggest issues from last season, the inability to stop the run.
While there are still some holes that will need to be filled on the defensive side of the ball, the focus will have to shift at some point to the offense.
The Dolphins cut ties with a pair of receivers last week in Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson and also exposed tight end Charles Clay to being nabbed by another team by using the transition tag on him.
Clay will be paid $7.071 million in 2015 but could get offered a larger contract by another team, which the Dolphins will have the option to match. The $7 million already makes Clay the third-highest paid tight end in the NFL for next season behind Rob Gronkowski ($15 million) and Jimmy Graham ($8 million).
On top of the Clay situation, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Miami’s top wideout Mike Wallace. Will the team hang on to him despite the very public friction between he and the coaching staff at the end of last season?
Wallace will make nearly $10 million in base salary in 2015, making him an unlikely trade target for other teams. Additionally, even if the Dolphins did trade him they’d still take a cap hit of $6.6 million this season, though after that he would be completely off the books.
Releasing Wallace wouldn’t be very beneficial either, as the team would save just $2.5 million in cap space. That is unless they designate him as a post-June 1st release, which would free up $6.9 million in cap space in 2015 while still costing Miami $5.2 million against the cap in 2016.
It still very much up in the air whether the Dolphins will keep Wallace or not, but for now it seems the safest play may be to hang on to him and let Miami’s new offense continue to develop with a premiere, proven playmaker for Ryan Tannehill to throw to.
Circling back to Hartline for a moment, it’s not completely out of the question for him to return to the Dolphins at a lower rate.
Hartline’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told CBS Miami radio that it’s still very possible he may choose to return to Miami, citing the Dolphins stability at quarterback and the veteran receiver’s familiarity with the team and the town as factors in his decision.
The Dolphins could also choose to upgrade at receiver through the NFL Draft if they want to move on from either or all of the aforementioned players.
Miami holds the 14th overall pick in April’s draft and could potentially target one of the top receivers projected to go in the 1st round, such as Louisville’s DeVante Parker, West Virginia’s Kevin White or Alabama’s Amari Cooper. Each are projected as early-to-mid 1st round picks.
If the Dolphins really want to nab one of the top two receivers, Cooper or White, they may have to trade up to do so. It’s very possible that both of them will be off the board by the time Miami picks at 14.
These are all just some of the options that the Dolphins have to consider as the new league year begins at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The Suh signing will keep the focus on the defense but Miami’s work will be far from finished as their needs on both sides of the ball will need to be addressed in the coming weeks.
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