In house free agent decisions loom for Miami Dolphins
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins will begin their 2016 NFL year in a mere nine days. Before then, decisions about their own impending free agents must be made.
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Miami has a lot of work to do in a short period of time. While the team has been talking in some way to the agents of their players who are looking at free agency, the real talk begins this week now that the NFL Combine is over.
Olivier Vernon could receive the franchise tag but that window is closing as teams can only apply the tag or any tag until March 2nd. That’s a two day window to make that decision. Vernon would immediately count $15.7 million against the teams cap starting on March 9th. Ideally, if the Dolphins hope to keep Vernon, they will work out a deal prior to the start of free agency but doing so before March 2nd could be the actual deadline.
If the Dolphins do not tag Vernon, then Vernon holds all the keys to his future with the Dolphins. He could opt to staying in Miami but his price may go up simply because he can wait another seven days and hit the market and gauge what his real value is. Many teams had an opportunity to get an idea of what players will want in free agency at the Combine. That includes finding out what their own players market value may be.
In addition to Vernon, the Dolphins have to decide on the future of Lamar Miller. There have been reports supporting the Dolphins interest in Miller and other reports that decline interest from the Dolphins. It’s a chess match. Many believe that Miller will indeed hit the free agent market and his value in that market could open the door for more serious discussions in Miami. Using the franchise tag on Miller would not be a smart move for the Dolphins.
According to the NFL, running backs who receive the franchise tag are to be paid $10.9 million for the season. All of which is guaranteed. The Dolphins not only can not afford to pay a running back $10 million but Miller, while good is not a value anywhere close to that amount.
Derrick Shelby’s name has been quiet over the past month and a half. He has said he wants to play somewhere he can start or legitimately compete to start. In Miami he may not have that opportunity especially if the team keeps Vernon. Shelby has been a valuable back-up and has played well when given the opportunity but there are questions as to whether or not he is ready for a full time role at defensive end. He could however be a key to figuring out the Dolphins intentions. If he is re-signed in the next week, it’s likely the Dolphins will not make a push to keep Vernon.
Another name that has received some talk lately is wide-receiver Rishard Matthews. Matthews played very well for the Dolphins in 2015 and looks to make a splash in free agency. There has been talk around local media that Miami has spoken to his agent about a new contract that would keep him in Miami.
Kelvin Sheppard, Miami’s 2015 middle linebacker starter has not had his name mentioned as returning to the Dolphins. In fact, it’s been the opposite as we have heard that Miami is looking to replace two linebackers on their unit this off-season.
Whatever Miami Does this week will have an impact on what they do next week. It’s going to be a week of a lot of talking and negotiating but a decision on these players looms.