Jeff Ireland has been like the CEO of a top-heavy corporation, chopping heads for the Miami Dolphins.
Karlos Dansby made 134 combined tackles last year as Miami's inside linebacker but was cut as soon as Dannell Ellerbe was inked to a deal by the Dolphins. Despite his solid play, Dansby was expendable because of his age (31) and his high salary-cap number. Miami saved $6.25 million in 2013 and $9.25 million in 2014 by releasing Dansby.
Kevin Burnett, another productive Dolphins linebacker, was shown the door when Miami signed Philip Wheeler. Again, Burnett's age (30) and his high price tag were the deciding factors. The Dolphins saved $4.45 million in 2013 and $5.75 million in 2014 by letting Burnett go.
For the most part, the Dolphins are getting younger and cheaper, allowing for the signing of star players such as Mike Wallace.
After the 2013 NFL draft, a few more Miami Dolphins have been put on notice.
Enter Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, two rookies who may shove Marshall out of the picture. While Taylor is expected to start opposite newly acquired Brent Grimes, Davis may take Marshall's place as the slot corner.
If Davis, one of Miami's 2013 third-rounders, learns Kevin Coyle's defense quickly, then Marshall is in serious trouble.
Miami will save $4.6 million in 2013 and $5.35 million in 2014 if Marshall is cut.
With the addition of Brent Grimes, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, Dimitri Patterson is strapped to the chopping block.
Patterson's salary situation puts him at a huge disadvantage. Acquired after being released by the Cleveland Browns last year, Patterson will not be owed a cent of his $4.6 million salary if he is not on the team for Miami's regular-season kickoff.
Jeff Ireland will allow Patterson to compete, and only a miraculous training camp can save him. Patterson's main competition will be Grimes and Taylor. Even if he shines during his preseason challenge, Patterson will almost certainly have to restructure his contract to remain a Dolphin.
Richie Incognito was a Pro Bowler in 2012, but he also has one of Miami's highest salary-cap numbers in 2013.
In Round 3 of the 2013 NFL draft, Miami selected Tennessee offensive tackle Dallas Thomas. Shortly after, the Dolphins signed Tyson Clabo, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, jeopardizing Incognito's hold on a roster spot.
Clabo is expected to be Miami's right tackle while 2012 second-rounder Jonathan Martin will serve as the team's left tackle. This means that Thomas will be allowed to compete for the left guard position with Incognito. Because of his 2013 salary, Incognito will have to decisively outplay Thomas in the preseason.
Further complicating matters will be newly acquired Lance Louis, who is returning from a torn ACL suffered during last season's Week 12. Once healthy, Louis is expected to start at right guard, and John Jerry will provide additional depth at the guard position for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins will save $4.3 million in 2013 by cutting Incognito.
Dan Carpenter appears to be the most obvious casualty-to-be in Miami. The Dolphins drafted 2012's best collegiate kicker, Caleb Sturgis, in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft.
As kickers are rarely drafted, Miami's kicking job is Sturgis' to lose.