Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (82) celebrates his catch against the New York Jets in the second half at Sun Life Stadium. The Jets defeated Miami 37-24. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
With free agency only a couple of weeks away the Dolphins began to pare down their roster to free cap space. The first casualty was Brian Hartline. After six seasons, 4,200 plus yards and 14 touchdowns, Hartline was now a free agent.
Miami had given him a contract extension the off-season before but his play on the field was no longer living up to the deal. The Dolphins would change their entire receiving core sans a couple.
On the same day, Brandon Gibson also received his release. Gibson’s performance in Miami was marred by injury and the Dolphins felt it was time to move in a different direction. With many holes on the roster, the Dolphins created two more at wide-receiver.
Days before the start of free agency, Miami waived injured CB Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan had played well for the Dolphins but his cap hit was not conducive to the Dolphins situation and his production on the field suffered as a result of being banged up.
The Dolphins also opted to use the “transition” tag on tight-end Charles Clay allowing them to match but not receive compensation for any offer that might be given to him in free agency.
March 5th – 10th
Over a period of five days heading towards free agency and the league new year, the Dolphins began to re-sign their own impending free agents. On March 5th the team signed Jason Fox to a two year deal. They re-signed Jordan Kovacs and defensive tackle A.J. Francis two days later.
Fox would end up starting at right tackle most of the season and was highly ineffective. More often than not, Fox was either missing blocks or being called for holding as he replaced Ja’Wuan James who was out with an injury. Kovacs wouldn’t make the roster and Francis would lose his job on the final cuts to 53.
On March 10th the Dolphins were very busy. They re-signed MLB Kelvin Sheppard to a one year deal, and signed safety Michael Thomas. They released guard Shelley Smith and LB Phillip Wheeler.
Wheeler had been signed to a $26 million free agent deal in 2013 as part of Jeff Ireland’s last year with the team. When not injured, Wheeler wasn’t making the impact Miami had envisioned. He was released to save cap space ahead of free agency.
After several days of rumor the Dolphins made the biggest splash in franchise history and in the process gave the largest contract to a defensive lineman in league history. Ndamukong Suh officially a couple of days after the start of free agency to a $118 million contract.
Upwards of $60 million was guaranteed on the deal with $28 million coming due in 2016. The addition of Suh immediately put Miami in the contenders column of the NFL. The Dolphins held a press conference announcing the signing and Stephen Ross, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dennis Hickey appeared at the presser beaming like children on Christmas day.
Suh wouldn’t be the only free agent signing however. The team announced on the same day the signing of TE Jordan Cameron. The former Pro-Bowl player’s addition was writing on the wall for Charles Clay who had entered into negotiations with the Buffalo Bills. The Bills would make Clay an offer Miami could not match.
A day after signing Suh and Cameron Miami made a trade with New Orleans. They sent 2013 free agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a 3rd round pick in April’s draft for WR Kenny Stills.
From March 20th to 26th the Dolphins would add running back LaMichael James and sign Matt Moore and Louis Delmas to one year contracts. Delmas was coming off a season ending injury. On the 26th they re-signed DE Derrick Shelby.