After the upcoming weekend passes and Super Bowl XLVII becomes nothing more than a memory, the offseason will begin in full. The mad dash of free agency will become the highlight of discussions, even though it's still roughly another month away.
The Miami Dolphins have approximately $46 million in cap space. This has led plenty of people to believe that the Dolphins will be big players in free agency, despite somewhat disputing remarks from owner Stephen Ross.
Nevertheless, Miami is likely to make a few moves in free agency (especially if GM Jeff Ireland wants to keep his job). With holes at wide receiver, cornerback and offensive line, the Dolphins will certainly look for improvements in the horde of available veterans.
But the promise of signing a talented veteran brings with it a massive caveat: Free agency moves fail far more often than they succeed.
To avoid overpaying for a player, adding a guy with attitude problems, or simply busting on someone past their prime, here are a few free agents the Dolphins should avoid at all costs.
There appear to be a few options in free agency, and while none of them are terribly appealing, Rashard Mendenhall seems like he could be a solid option.
Don't fall for it.
Mendenhall is a decent running back who can occasionally produce, but he's not enough of an impact player to justify whatever price tag he'll carry. He had two solid seasons in Pittsburgh in 2009 and 2010, but he struggled in the six games he played this season.
He was also sidelined for injuries and for missing a game while listed as inactive.
The Dolphins already have a prospective star in Lamar Miller. What they need for now is a solid, reliable player to take some pressure off Miller. Mendenhall is not that guy, and his disciplinary issues will likely keep him off head coach Joe Philbin's mind.
Saying the name Wes Welker to any Dolphins fan worth their salt will elicit plenty of sour faces and shudders. Miami unearthed Welker's hidden talent in 2005. Welker would have something of a breakout season for the Dolphins in 2006.
Against all conventional wisdom, the Dolphins dealt within the division, shipping Welker to New England, where he would politely stick it to Miami for the next five years.
What better way to get the Patriots back than to sign Welker as a free agent, right?
Welker is a shifty slot receiver with great hands and unreal quickness. But he's also 32 years old and is looking for one last nice payday before hanging up the cleats.
The Dolphins need a wide receiver, no doubt. But they need a No. 1 wide receiver. You can argue Welker was the top guy in New England, but New England also built their offense so that Welker could thrive as the No. 1 guy.
Oh, and having Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez didn't hurt.
Miami needs to focus on Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings. The Dolphins need to sign one of those three to be their elite receiver. Welker is nothing more than a revenge plot that should be ignored.
Ryan Clady spent 2012 keeping Denver's prized possession, Peyton Manning, safe. In 2013, it's very likely he'll be preserving a different quarterback.
Contract negotiations ended between Clady and the Broncos in July after the towering lineman turned down a five-year, $50 million deal. The two parties were expected to resume negotiations after the 2012 season, but no updates have been provided thus far.
If Clady hits the market, he figures to be one of the best offensive linemen available. It's still undetermined if Miami will re-sign Jake Long or not, but it's very possible that he becomes a free agent as well.
So Clady would seem like a perfect replacement, yeah?
Not so fast.
Long's play has suffered and he's shown durability issues over the last two seasons, so his worth to Miami has decreased. Clady is a three-time Pro Bowler, and although he will undergo shoulder surgery this offseason, his play is not expected to take a hit.
But it's the price that should turn Miami away. Remember, Clady turned down an offer worth $50 million last summer. He's obviously looking to get paid in a big, bad way. And frankly, the Dolphins dropping Long for costing too much then signing the Clady to a huge deal just doesn't make sense.
The Broncos are expected to franchise tag Clady, but in the event he makes it to free agency, the Dolphins should look the other way.
Detroit's Cliff Avril is one part of a fairly stacked defensive end pool. Avril recorded 9.5 sacks in 2012 while playing out a franchise tag that earned him $10.6 million. Avril has said he'd like to be a Lion again next year, but he's unlikely to be tagged again.
After supposedly turning down a $30 million contract extension from Detroit, it appears Avril is expecting a huge deal.
Miami could use an additional pass-rushing defensive end to counter Cameron Wake. Avril certainly has the talent, but is he worth the money?
For plenty of other teams, absolutely. For the Dolphins? Not really.
Miami has too many other needs to address in free agency that it can't afford to splurge on a defensive end. Moreover, with the wealth of defensive end talent in the draft this year, Miami could easily use its first-round pick on a flourishing rookie.
Plus, it'll be interesting to see if Avril can keep up his production when he's not surrounded by Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nick Fairley.
You can't talk about Aqib Talib without mentioning his off-the-field issues. It's a shame, because he's one of the NFL's most promising corners. While not quite elite, he's a great perimeter player and can match up with many top receivers.
But it's his headache-inducing antics that caused Tampa Bay to ship him to New England earlier this season. You can see a full time line of his troubles here, but in case you need a quick reminder, Talib has had on-field arguments with officials, fights with teammates at practice and a couple of run-ins with police.
Do I even need to explain why he won't fit in Miami?
The Dolphins exported Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis prior to 2012. Those two players may have had their respective problems, but neither compare to Talib's list of aggravations. There's simply no way Talib would mesh with Joe Philbin's no-nonsense, straight-edge locker room.
Talib has been on his best behavior in New England, and he may very well have a chance to further rehabilitate his image with a new team in 2013. But with a risk that high, don't expect his improvement to come in Miami.