The Miami Dolphins have a number of prominent players with expiring contracts this offseason, but the question has been which players are the most important. It seems we may have our answer.
Behind the scenes, the front office has discretely targeted at least two starters—Brian Hartline and Chris Clemons—they hope to lock into contract extensions before the NFL’s new year begins on March 12. The club has had extensive discussions with Hartline and Clemons about a return in 2013, according to a league source.
Among a list of pending free agents that also includes left tackle Jake Long, tight end Anthony Fasano, defensive tackle Randy Starks and running back Reggie Bush, Hartline is one of the names that is consistently being mentioned among the players the Dolphins are most inclined to keep.
The news around Hartline is surprising, since the Dolphins and Hartline were reportedly not making significant process on a new deal as recently as last week, according to Salguero, but the Dolphins would be wise to keep him around.
Retaining Hartline ensures quarterback Ryan Tannehill has a familiar target that he can get comfortable with for years to come. Hartline ranked tops on the team with 131 targets in 2012 and could be a big part of the offensive game plan again in 2013, even if the team adds another wide receiver (say, perhaps, Steelers receiver Mike Wallace) this offseason.
The Dolphins must be careful with how much they spend on Clemons. While Clemons has value, Reshad Jones will likely command more money than Clemons, and rightly so. He is quietly becoming one of the best safeties in the NFL. He is also only under contract through 2013, so the Dolphins will have to find an answer for him at some point in the next 13 months if they want to keep him off the market next year.
Here's some more news from around the AFC East.
According to Zuri Berry of Boston.com, Alfonzo Dennard defended his assault of the police officer by saying he didn't punch him, but he pushed him.
Former Patriots left tackle Matt Light said on CSNNE that the Patriots should "make [things] right" by Welker.
Joe Caporoso of TurnOnTheJets.com wonders if wide receiver Jeremy Kerley can eventually replace Santonio Holmes in the Jets offense.
According to Conor Orr of the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, Darrelle Revis' trainer Will Sullivan hopes to have Revis into conditioning activity by April.
Jim Kelly spoke with the Jon Murphy Show (via BuffaloBills.com) and said that he doesn't think there's a quarterback worth taking with the No. 8 overall pick.
Bleacher Report Bills correspondent Robert Quinn takes a look at where defensive end Mario Williams fits into Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's scheme.
B/R Dolphins featured columnist Alan Hubbard lists six things that must change for the Dolphins in the 2013 season.
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.