Plan for Miami Dolphins' $60 Million Shopping Spree

Richard SantamariaCorrespondent IIJanuary 5, 2013

Plan for Miami Dolphins' $60 Million Shopping Spree

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    The Miami Dolphins have set themselves up for an offseason that can instantly make them Super Bowl contenders.  Like the Miami Heat in 2010.  This is no joke.  I'm not comparing Jeff Ireland to Pat Riley but there is true hope for Miami's NFL franchise.

    I remember the venom.  LeBron James would never choose Miami.  He would rather play in New York.  The Heat cannot afford all three superstars.

    Then it became a joke.  They are not going to have a bench.  Dwyane Wade and LeBron play the same position.

    The Dolphins are receiving hate.  Again, I'm not saying they are going to be the Miami Heat.  I'm just saying they can.

    I am here to tell you that the Miami Dolphins have $60 million in available cap space to spend however Ireland, Stephen Ross and Joe Philbin choose.

    Now, let me show you why and afterward, I'll unveil Plan A.

$60 Million Is the Magic Number

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    Let's take the numbers provided by the Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin.  Volin claimed that the Dolphins' would actually have a salary cap of $127 million after they rolled over $6 million in unused cap space from 2012. 

    Now, we look at players that can be cut with no cap penalty for Miami.  For example, Dimitri Patterson is slated to earn $4.6 million in 2013 but Miami will owe him nothing if they release him before the first game of the regular season.  Patterson's future is at Miami's discretion.  He is off the list.

    Will Yeatman, Derrick Shelby, Marcus Thigpen, Armon Binns, Jonathan Freeny, Jonas Gray, Josh Kaddu, Jorvorskie Lane, Kyle Miller, Julian Posey, Josh Samuda and Kelcie McCray can all be cut and Miami would only suffer a total cap penalty of $10,000.  These are just option contracts for Jeff Ireland.  We can easily eliminate them.

    OK, Miami fans, I'll let you keep special teams' ace Marcus Thigpen and fullback supreme Jorvorskie Lane.  They are value players.

    This is what we have:

      PLAYER POSITION 2013 Cap Hit
    1 Karlos Dansby LB 8575000
    2 Paul Soliai DT 7375000
    3 Richard Marshall CB 5766667
    4 Kevin Burnett LB 5700000
    5 Richie Incognito G 5383333
    6 Cameron Wake DE/LB 5015000
    7 Davone Bess WR 3433333
    8 Dan Carpenter K 3012500
    9 Ryan Tannehill QB 2879205
    10 Mike Pouncey 2525371
    11 Jared Odrick DE  1939868
    12 Koa Misi LB 1131905
    13 Brandon Fields P 1645000
    14 Jonathan Martin OT 1087333
    15 John Denney LS 1013750
    16 Jason Trusnik LB 931666
    17 Daniel Thomas RB 882652
    18 John Jerry G 789625
    19 Olivier Vernon DE 669520
    20 Michael Egnew TE 652239
    21 Nolan Carroll CB 622939
    22 Reshad Jones S 615075
    23 Lamar Miller RB 601500
    24 Charles Clay TE 583000
    25 Jimmy Wilson CB/S 566475
    26 Kheeston Randall DT 495612
    27 Rishard Matthews WR 493403
    28 Marcus Thigpen RB/WR 482500
    29 Jorvorskie Lane FB 480000
           
        TOTAL

    $65,349,471

    Volin claimed the Dolphins had $1,590,868 in dead money.  My moves created $5000 in dead money from the contracts of Shelby and McCray.  Now, Miami has used $66,945,339 of its cap space.

    If we subtract that from the NFL's set cap ($121 million) plus Miami's rollover from $2012 ($6 million), we have a number that is slightly over $60 million.

    $60 million is the magic number!

Technicalities

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    According to Ben Volin, each NFL team's offseason salary cap number is the top 51 contracts.

    That leaves Miami with $60 million for 22 unsigned players.

    The 12th overall selection in the 2013 NFL draft will make about two million.  The Dolphins' two second rounders will make approximately one million each and their third rounders about $700,000 each.  Miami's fourth rounder will likely make $500,000.  That's almost $5.9 million for six contracts.

    Fifth rounders and beyond will make the rookie minimum, which is set at $405,000 for 2013.

    If we fill the remaining 16 player slots with rookies at the minimum, that will take $6.48 million.

    So, even being ultra-technical, Miami has over $47 million to spend on enhancing contracts.

Break the Bank for Mike Wallace

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    Mike Wallace is only 26 years old and has the game-breaking speed, Miami so desperately needs.

    Let's give our new wide receiver, a deal similar to Vincent Jackson's.

    Signed: $55 million for five years

    For our purposes, contracts will include signing bonuses and the cap hit will be distributed evenly.

    2013 Cap Hit: $11 million

Brian Hartline Is an Elite No.2 Receiver

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    Make no mistake about it.  Brian Hartline is getting paid in 2013.  He just finished a campaign in which he caught 74 passes for 1083 yards. 

    Dolphin fans know that Ryan Tannehill missed various deep throws to a wide-open Hartline this year.  Hartline's numbers could have been gaudy.  They will have an opportunity to fix this problem in 2013.

    Signed: $28 million for four years

    2013 Cap Hit: $7 million

Randy Starks Will Continue to Plug the Middle

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    Randy Starks is underrated and underappreciated.  The truth is that he is an essential part of Miami's dominant defensive line.

    Signed: $24 million for four years

    2013 Cap Hit: $6 million

Jared Cook

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    The good news is that Jared Cook wants out of Tennessee and the bad news is that he tore a rotator cuff in early December.

    Cook is an athletic tight end that wants to be more involved in an offense.  He should be fully healed by the start of Miami's 2013 training camp and Mike Sherman will get him the ball.

    Signed: $16 million for four years

    2013 Cap Hit: $4 million

Sean Smith

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    While Miami fans are constantly frustrated by Sean Smith's inability to make interceptions, he is a solid cover cornerback.  Smith has only five career interceptions in four full seasons.  Despite this, Advanced NFL Stats claimed that in 2012, Smith ranked 21st in the league among corners in enhancing his team's probability of a victory.

    Amongst a free agent crop that does not possess superstars at the cornerback position, Smith is a proven commodity for Miami.

    Signed: $21 million for three years

    2013 Cap Hit: $7 million

Chris Houston

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    Chris Houston is not a household name and the Detroit Lions are not considered a defensive juggernaut.  Regardless, he will be one of the top cornerbacks available in 2013.  According to Advanced NFL Stats, Houston ranked 15th in the league among corners in enhancing his team's probability of a victory.

    Signed: $21 million for three years

    2013 Cap Hit: $7 million

Jake Long

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    Dolphin fans want Jake Long to stay but at the right price.  His wife's friendship with Ryan Tannehill's wife has been well documented. 

    In the end, Long makes everyone happy, signing an incentive-laden deal.

    Signed:  $21 million for 3 years

    2013 Cap Hit: $7 million

Miami Still Has About $1.5 Million

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    The Miami Dolphins still have $1.5 million available, even taking into account the salaries of drafted rookies.  It is just insurance money, likely for a backup quarterback.

    Here are our final numbers:

      PLAYER POSITION 2013 Cap Hit
    1 Karlos Dansby LB 8575000
    2 Paul Soliai DT 7375000
    3 Richard Marshall CB 5766667
    4 Kevin Burnett LB 5700000
    5 Richie Incognito G 5383333
    6 Cameron Wake DE/LB 5015000
    7 Davone Bess WR 3433333
    8 Dan Carpenter K 3012500
    9 Ryan Tannehill QB 2879205
    10 Mike Pouncey 2525371
    11 Jared Odrick DE  1939868
    12 Koa Misi LB 1131905
    13 Brandon Fields P 1645000
    14 Jonathan Martin OT 1087333
    15 John Denney LS 1013750
    16 Jason Trusnik LB 931666
    17 Daniel Thomas RB 882652
    18 John Jerry G 789625
    19 Olivier Vernon DE 669520
    20 Michael Egnew TE 652239
    21 Nolan Carroll CB 622939
    22 Reshad Jones S 615075
    23 Lamar Miller RB 601500
    24 Charles Clay TE 583000
    25 Jimmy Wilson CB/S 566475
    26 Kheeston Randall DT 495612
    27 Rishard Matthews WR 493403
    28 Marcus Thigpen RB/WR 482500
    29 Jorvorskie Lane FB 480000
    30 2013 1st Rounder   2000000
    31 2013 2nd Rounder   1000000
    32 2013 2nd Rounder   1000000
    33 2013 3rd Rounder   700000
    34 2013 3rd Rounder   700000
    35 2013 4th Rounder   500000
    36 Mike Wallace WR 11000000
    37 Brian Hartline WR 7000000
    38 Randy Starks DT 6000000
    39 Jared Cook TE 4000000
    40 Sean Smith CB 7000000
    41 Chris Houston CB 7000000
    42 Jake Long LT 7000000
    43 Rookie   405000
    44 Rookie   405000
    45 Rookie   405000
    46 Rookie   405000
    47 Rookie   405000
    48 Rookie   405000
    49 Rookie   405000
    50 Rookie   405000
    51 Rookie   405000
           
        TOTAL 123894471
        PLUS DEAD $ 125490339
        2013 NFL Cap 127000000
        Space Available 1509661

In Conclusion

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    Miami fans will miss Reggie Bush but now have a team with no glaring holes.  The weakest positions are free safety and right guard.  I am assuming that Reshad Jones will be playing strong safety, where he is more comfortable.

    Jeff Ireland will have flexibility come draft time.  If he hits on his draft picks, Miami will be a very dangerous team in 2013.

    What is your 2013 free agency plan for the Miami Dolphins?