Dolphins pre-free agency position analysis: DE’s


Will the Miami Dolphins release Cam Wake? Will they restructure? Will they lose or keep Olivier Vernon? These are two very big questions facing the Dolphins with only days until free agency begins. With free agency set to begin on March 9th, the Dolphins must answer these questions soon.

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Cameron Wake is 34 years old and still can dominate some of the best right tackles in the NFL. He is also 34 years old and coming off an Achilles injury. He is also 34 years old and scheduled to count $9.5 million on this years salary cap. Releasing him saves $8.4 million in cap space but also creates a huge hole that needs filled.

Wake isn’t the Dolphins only problem though. Olivier Vernon is set to become a free agent in 10 days. He is expecting a contract that will near $10 million per season. The Dolphins could explore placing the franchise tag on Vernon but that would cost the team $15 million in cap space this season alone.

Vernon graded out as one of the top three defensive ends in the entire NFL last season over the last eight weeks of the year. He was middle of the pack the first eight weeks. The problem with Vernon is will he maintain the same level of intensity once he signs his next contract?

If deciding on the fate of Vernon and Wake are not enough the Dolphins also have Derrick Shelby to deal with as Shelby will be a free agent. The teams primary back-up isn’t looking for money as much as opportunity. He wants to go somewhere where he can have a real chance at starting. Miami isn’t ready to turn that over to him just yet.

Damontre Moore and Terrence Fede round out the Dolphins roster and neither player is close to doing more than spot duty on Sunday’s. Miami is seriously lacking top edge rushing ability if they lose Vernon and release Wake.

The Dolphins are reportedly speaking with Wake about a restructure but Wake doesn’t need to cooperate. If the Dolphins release him he will still get a very good contract if only for one year elsewhere. There is little motivation for him to restructure. Making matters worse all around for the Dolphins is that this years free agent DE class is thin.

Team Need – Yes

Free agency need – moderate to high

Target in free agency or draft – Both but free agency will be tough. Miami should have better options in the draft.