No one wants to say it so I will be the bad guy here. Could the Miami Dolphins move on from Cameron Wake next season? It’s possible yet not likely, still it’s something that at some point will need to be discussed.
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Cameron Wake is done for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon on Thursday night. He is 33 years old and his biggest asset is his ability to explode off the line of scrimmage. That’s where the injury comes into play. There have been a lot of players who have recovered from this type of injury but a defensive end who uses his feet to get off the line quickly will likely make his recovery that much more questionable.
To be fair I’m not suggesting that Wake won’t recover. He will. I’m questioning for the sake of discussion, his ability to return to the same player he is today. Can he recover enough to play at this same level? Age is creeping up on him and that is something that will also play into what happens this off-season. His salary is another issue.
Wake is scheduled to count $9.5 million against next seasons already tight salary cap. Cutting him would save the team $8.4 million with $1.4 million in dead cap money. It’s a big savings for certain. Wake however is a big time fan favorite and releasing him, or even writing an article about releasing him, won’t make fans very happy. Reality at some point needs to sink in. Cameron Wake is not getting younger, is getting more expensive, and there is a realistic probability that his production, explosiveness, and ability to rush the passer may wane after this injury.
What happens with Wake will come down to who is the head coach and where Mike Tannenbaum want’s to take this team moving forward. Yes, Mike Tannenbaum. Dennis Hickey is almost an afterthought in the Miami organization these days.
Wake started the season slowly and the Dolphins are going to find it difficult to replace his production and potential production. The thing is Miami expected opposing teams to struggle blocking both Ndamukong Suh and Wake at the same time but aside from two games, offensive lineman haven’t had that big of a problem.
Miami has a lot of decisions to make in the off-season as 19 players are slated to hit free agency including Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon, and Rishard Matthews. Miller and Matthews are showcasing reasons why they should be re-signed but Vernon has been inconsistent throughout the season. Could Miami enter the 2016 off-season needing two starting caliber defensive ends? It’s very possible.
A lot of what happens with Wake will be determined in the coming months as he begins rehabilitiaton of the injury. If the Dolphins are satisfied with his progress he won’t go anywhere but the team, at some point will almost certainly discuss his salary.
The Dolphins may target Wake for a pay reduction but more than likely a re-structure of his current contract that will move guarantees up front and lessen the overall impact of his contract for next season. If the Dolphins don’t feel he can return at the age of 34, his age next season, then Wake may be hitting the free agent market.
It’s not something anyone wants to discuss but it is a real possibility. In fact, it was a possibility before the injury albeit a slim one. Things change.