Dolphins 2013 Salary Situation: Breaking Down Miami's Current Cap Status
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Dolphins are among the most cap-rich teams in the league, even after making two big moves in re-signing Brian Hartline (five-year, $30.775 million deal last week) and franchise tagging Randy Starks ($8.75 million tag number).
There's already a pretty good spot for you to get analysis, rumors and grades on all the Dolphins signings, but what about the contracts themselves?
Here, you'll find all the updated contract info as it becomes available, complete with analysis on how it affects the Dolphins salary cap situation.
Estimated* Cap Space: $15,703,934 [March 22, 1:24 a.m. ET]
*This number can only be as accurate as the information given. Salary cap information is always fluid, and salary data is not always readily available. At times, this will be an approximate guess based on all available information, with Spotrac.com serving as the starting point. Spotrac will be used as frequently as possible.
OT Nate Garner: three-year, $4.875 million contract (via Spotrac)
Contract Value Grade: A-
Garner filled in as the starting right tackle for five games when Jake Long went down with injury. His contract suggests he's not in the plans as the starting right tackle, but his role on the team is important as a versatile backup who can also play guard.
TE Dustin Keller: one-year, $4.25 million contract (via John Clatyon of ESPN)
Contract Value Grade: A-
The Dolphins may not be completely satisfied with their tight end situation, especially given the departure of the dependable but unexciting Anthony Fasano. Now, they at least have a one-year stop gap to figure out what they have in Charles Clay and Michael Egnew, and they didn't have to break the bank to get him.
LB Phillip Wheeler: five years, $26 million (via ProFootballTalk)
Contract Value Grade: B-
Wheeler had never played more than 58 percent of the defensive snaps in a season (according to ProFootballFocus.com) before joining the Oakland Raiders last year, where he played a whopping 98.5 percent of the snaps and proved a solid tackler and pass-rusher. He's not as strong in pass coverage, but for an aggressive style defense like the Dolphins, Wheeler's speed could come in handy.
LB Dannell Ellerbe: five years, $35 million (via NFL.com)
Contract Value Grade: A
At an average salary of $7 million per year, Ellerbe's contract is respectable without breaking the bank. The number doesn't even rank him in the top 10 average salaries at linebacker. That will be made even better by the fact that his 2013 cap hit is just $2.4 million. this was an unequivocal value steal the likes of which haven't yet occurred on the free agent market.
WR Mike Wallace: five years, $65 million (via NFL.com)
Contract Value Grade: C+
This grade could always change, if we learn that the contract is backloaded. For now, though, it's hard to see how Wallace is worth the heavy chunk of change the Dolphins gave up to land him. For reference, Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson makes roughly $11.1 million per year (according to OverTheCap.com) on average.
WR Brian Hartline: five years, $30.775 million (via The Palm Beach Post)
Contract Value Grade: B+
The average of $6.155 million per year might make some Dolphins fans spit out their beverages, but the Dolphins have an easy out in the third year. The contract itself is heavily backloaded, meaning the Dolphins can get away with little harm done if Hartline's play declines or if he doesn't live up to the deal.
QB Matt Moore: two years, $8 million (via The Palm Beach Post)
Contract Value Grade: A
This is a slam dunk for the Dolphins. With just a $2.5 million cap hit in 2013, the Dolphins still get him at a relative price for a backup. His $5.5 million cap hit next year makes him a likely cut, but the Dolphins were wise to make this move if they looked at the market and decided Moore was the best fit.
LB Karlos Dansby: clears $3.9 million off the cap (via The Palm Beach Post)
Cap Savings Grade: B
The Dolphins brought Dansby in as part of their goal to implement a 3-4 defense, and in switching to the 4-3, they asked him to move to middle linebacker, where he had never played. The Dolphins are paying Ellerbe a little bit more to do the job, but he's a bit better suited, as well. They absorb $4.65 million in dead money on Dansby, which means they lost more than they gained.
LB Kevin Burnett: clears $3.2 million off the cap (via The Palm Beach Post)
Cap Savings Grade: A+
Burnett may have been the better linebacker of the two, but his contract was more easily expendable. With just $2.5 million in dead money and $3.2 million in savings, the Dolphins came out winners—and they were able to get his replacement, Wheeler, for even cheaper than Burnett.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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