NFL Free Agency & Combine Up Next


The NFL season of 2011 is in the books.  The Super Bowl has wrapped and the off-season is officially underway.  For the Miami Dolphins, a team who’s off-season began a month ago, the tasks now turn towards the NFL Scouting Combine later this month and then start of free agency on March 13th.  In the meantime, new head coach Joe Philbin and GM Jeff Ireland will continue evaluation of the teams current roster.

With players like Marc Colombo, Vernon Carey, and others set to be free agents and guys like Yeremiah Bell scheduled to take up cap space, the Dolphins will start looking at the roster turnover and salary restructures.  As always seems to be the case this time of year, dollar amounts and cap numbers seem to vary from one author to another.  Primarily because teams do not release all of their salary cap counts.

Bonuses, accelerations, guarantees, and much more play a pivotal role in the final cap allowance.  With this being the second free agent period under the current CBA, teams will also find out how much they can borrow from the following season and how much they can spend of what was left from the year before.  When all is finally added up, the Dolphins should be in pretty good shape to make some free agent moves.

Obviously the top choice for Stephen Ross is to find a franchise QB or at the very least someone who will turn the interest of fans into excitement.  So far the only name that brings that level of excitement is Peyton Manning and it’s questionable what Ross and Ireland may or may not do if he becomes available.  Aside from the QB position, the Dolphins have other areas they need to fill as well.

With the switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense, the Dolphins will need to add a pass rushing OLB.  The Dolphins also employed two middle linebackers last season in Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, so do the Dolphins feel that one of them could move to the outside?  While the team preps for the Combine they will have their first shot to address needs in March when the new league year kicks in.

The next few weeks will be rather dull in terms of action from the organization but across the league, players will receive tenders and franchise tags and others will find out if they will be hitting the market which will lead to fan and media speculation.  The rumor mills will churn out “sourced” information and before long everyone will have a plan of action that the Dolphins should take to get the team back to the playoffs.

Of course no one outside of the Dolphins will actually know for sure until the league year begins.  For now, the next “exciting” moment will come at the Combine when the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins flip a coin for the 8th spot in April’s draft, thus solidifying the first round draft order and bringing with it revised mock-drafts.

Here is the list of expected free agents that the Dolphins will have to review on their own roster:

Chad Henne – JP Losman – Lex Hilliard – Steve Slaton – Lydon Murtha – Jeron Mastrud – Vernon Carey – Marc Colombo – Ikaika Alama-Francis – Kendall Langford – Phillip Merling – Paul Solia – Igor Olshansky – Tyrone Culver – Will Allen