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As is usually the case this time of year, it’s an exciting time for fans of the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately, that excitement usually fizzles out by mid-November as the big signings have either not panned out or just weren’t enough to get the Fins over the top.
We’re not going to dwell on past failures right now because what good does that do? Presently, Miami is the talk of the league after landing the best defensive free agent to hit the market in years; defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
The Dolphins are certainly not done spending money yet, even if they’re throwing a very large amount of it at Suh ($114 million over six years, $60 million of which is guaranteed).
It’s understandable that the names of potential targets aren’t really being thrown around yet, as Miami has clearly been spending a lot of focus and energy on securing Suh. That’s surely going to change in the next 24 hours.
One name that has popped up is linebacker Brandon Graham, who has played with the Philadelphia Eagles since being drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Graham has been a backup and situational player for the majority of his time in Philly, but last season he began to look like someone ready for a full-time role. His 5.5 sacks in 2014 were a career-high.
It’s likely that Graham would be used more as a pass rushing defensive end in Miami’s 4-3 defense, perhaps opening the door for the Dolphins to use Dion Jordan more as a linebacker.
Again, Graham’s name popping up as linked to Miami is very likely just the tip of the iceberg.
One thing that the Dolphins have been very clear about is their intention to clear up as much cap space as possible while trimming the fat off of their roster.
Several players who would’ve been considered ‘key guys’ over the past few years, especially considering some of the money thrown at them by former general manager Jeff Ireland, have been sent packing by the Fins new brass that includes second-year GM Dennis Hickey and new VP of football operations Mike Tannenbaum.
Linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson, offensive lineman Nate Garner and cornerback Cortland Finnegan have all been shown the door by Miami, saving the team around $22.3 million in cap space.
The next name that has appeared on the chopping block is punter Brandon Fields. Reports came out on Monday that Miami is prepared to release Fields if the two sides can’t agree on a restructuring of his contract.
Fields, 30, had evolved into one of the best punters in the league during his 8 years with the Dolphins but had a very subpar 2014 season. Now it appears that Miami doesn’t feel he’s worth $7.18 million over two years, which is what’s remaining on his contract.
Cutting Fields would clear another $3.1 million in cap space for the 2015 season.
One of the Dolphins free agents who appears to be on his way out the door is former 1st round pick Jared Odrick. With the imminent signing of Suh on the horizon, Miami certainly wasn’t going to throw the kind of money at Odrick that he will get elsewhere.
Reports are surfacing that Odrick, 27, has already come to terms on a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Clearly he has grown accustomed to not paying state income tax and would like to continue saving those millions.
The Dolphins will miss Odrick as he has grown into a solid NFL player but with Suh in the mix, there is only so much money to dedicate to each position. Miami still has another talented defensive tackle, 31-year-old Randy Starks, under contract. Starks is due to count $6 million against the salary cap this season.
Right now is most definitely the calm before the storm. Tuesday is going to be a very fun and busy day for NFL fans and we can only hope that the money the Dolphins are planning to throw around this year is spent wisely.
UPDATE: Well that didn’t take long. The Eagles have re-signed Brandon Graham to a 4-year, $26 million contract with $14 million guaranteed.
In other news, the Houston Texans have released wide receiver Andre Johnson. He’s a player that Dolphins fans would certainly like to see in Miami.
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