The Miami Dolphins have more than $40 million to spend on free agents in 2013. Miami fans are anticipating Christmas in March, and speculation over the possibilities is exciting.
Miami general manager Jeff Ireland actually has the option of creating more space by releasing current Dolphins with large contracts.
Would any of these cuts make sense?
I will attempt to clarify some of these options.
2013 Cap Savings: $3.01 million
2013 Dead Money: $312,500
Last year, Carpenter made 22-of-27 field goals with his longest being from 53 yards out.
While he was shaky early on in 2012, often blamed for early-season losses to the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals, he was steady in the latter portion of the season. Carpenter only missed one field goal in 17 attempts after the NFL's sixth week.
It is likely that the Dolphins will find a comparable or better kicker than Carpenter for less than $2.7 million.
Jeff Ireland will bring in competition for Carpenter, knowing that this is a logical place to find cap space.
If the Miami Dolphins released Karlos Dansby they would save $6.25 million in 2013 and $9.25 million in 2014.
2013 Cap Savings: $8.58 million
2013 Dead Money: $2.33 million
2014 Cap Savings: $11.58 million
2014 Dead Money: $2.33 million
The 31-year-old Dansby was solid in 2012, playing all 16 games and accumulating 134 combined tackles and nine passes defended. He did this despite tearing his left bicep on Oct. 28 in a victory against the New York Jets.
Dansby, despite his tackles and play in every game, was unspectacular in 2012, compiling a single sack with no interceptions and no forced fumbles.
The free-agent inside linebacker class is extremely weak, with Rey Maualuga and Brian Urlacher as headliners. It makes Dansby look like a bargain in 2013.
Miami can also draft a replacement, but why create another hole on the roster? Dansby was the glue that held together the Dolphins' defense in 2012.
Dansby will stick around in 2013 but he has to have a remarkable year to stay a Dolphin through 2014.
If Richard Marshall is released, the Dolphins would save $4.6 million in 2013 and $5.35 million in 2014.
2013 Cap Savings: $5.77 million
2013 Dead Money: $1.67 million
2014 Cap Savings: $6.51 million
2014 Dead Money: $1.17 million
Last year, Marshall played in only four games, recording just one interception and 17 tackles.
The question: Can you find a better slot cornerback for $4.6 million in the 2013 free-agency period?
In today's bloated market for cornerbacks, that is a close call.
Marshall's health is an issue, but if he proves to be whole, he will likely be a Dolphin in 2013.
Cutting Kevin Burnett would save the Dolphins $4.45 million in 2013 and $5.75 million in 2014.
2013 Cap Savings: $5.7 million
2013 Dead Money: $1.25 million
2014 Cap Savings: $7 million
2014 Dead Money: $1.25 million
After posting 110 combined tackles and five defended passes in 2012, Burnett would be near the top of the 2013 free-agent outside linebacker class if he were included.
It would be difficult to find a better linebacker than the 30-year-old Burnett for $4.45 million this year.
With so much cap space, Miami doesn't need to replace veterans like Burnett with rookies.
If Richie Incognito were released in 2013, the Dolphins would save $4.3 million.
2013 Cap Savings: $5.38 million
2013 Dead Money: $1.08 million
Richie Incognito made the Pro Bowl in 2012, heading into the final year of his contract.
The exercise continues to be the same: Can Miami find a better guard than Incognito for $4.3 million in the 2013 free-agency period?
Considering the leadership that he provides in the locker room, the answer is likely no.
Dimitri Patterson will earn $4.6 million if he is on Miami's roster for their Week 1 kickoff in 2013. If he is not, Miami owes him no money.
Patterson is insurance, and he actually played well for Miami in limited action late in the season.
If Miami fails to land two starting cornerbacks in free agency and the draft, Patterson will likely remain on the team, though he may be forced to restructure his contract.
Patterson may make the team, no matter what, with a good camp.
Again, $4.6 million may be a bargain for a starting cornerback in 2013, but hopefully, Ireland can improve on Patterson.
The truth is that free agents are often overpaid and Miami has no need to create holes in their roster because of their enviable salary-cap position.
The Dolphins have no need to cut high-priced veterans while hoping to land replacements in free agency or the draft. If Ireland does his job, Miami should go into the draft with no glaring holes.
Miami should have the flexibility in the draft to choose the best available players and add depth to an already strong squad.
Having said that, Dan Carpenter and Dimitri Patterson are on the chopping block.
Chances of the listed players remaining with the team
- Karlos Dansby: 80 percent
- Richie Incognito: 75 percent
- Kevin Burnett: 70 percent
- Richard Marshall: 65 percent
- Dan Carpenter: 50 percent
- Dimitri Patterson: 40 percent