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2 Miami Dolphins Players in Line for New Deal Before Start of 2015 Season

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaFeatured Columnist IVMay 21, 2015

Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon (50) runs on the field during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City ChiefsSunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins have had one of the best, or at least most active, offseasons in the NFL in 2015. 

In addition to signing the biggest free agent on the market in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the Dolphins managed to trade away big contracts in exchange for cheaper talent, had a very good draft and re-signed two of their core players to multi-year extensions in center Mike Pouncey and, as of Monday, quarterback Ryan Tannehill (per Tom Pelissero of USA Today). 

This doesn't mean the Dolphins are done yet, as they still have two players who are in line for a new deal prior to the start of the 2015 season. 

These aren't players that the Dolphins have to sign prior to the start of the season, but doing so should save the team money in the future while making a commitment to the team in place today. 

Here are the two players, as well as why they're in line for new contracts. 

Alan Diaz/Associated Press

DE Olivier Vernon

Save for two whiffs in the second and third round who are no longer with the organization (Jonathan Martin and Michael Egnew), the Dolphins had a very good 2012 draft. 

Both players on this list are products of said draft. The x-factor of the draft that has made the biggest impact has been defensive end Olivier Vernon. 

The defensive end is a native of Miami, having attended American High School in Miami before becoming a Miami Hurricane. 

From there his pro journey led him to the Dolphins, where in the last two seasons he has become a mainstay as an edge-rusher alongside Cameron Wake. 

In the NFL you can never have enough guys that can get to the quarterback, which is something that Vernon has shown himself to be able to do. He has 102 tackles and 21.5 sacks the last three seasons, primarily playing as Miami's defensive end on the right side. 

These numbers should explode in 2015 with the addition of Ndamukong Suh along the defensive line. Suh's ability to eat up blockers should give Vernon plenty of room to move into the backfield. 

Vernon's value isn't just that of a pass-rusher, as he's improved at stopping the run. Pro Football Focus graded him out at 3.9 against the run in 2014, an improvement over a 2013 season where he was graded out at minus-3.7

In front of our eyes Vernon is turning into a complete edge defender, which should have the Dolphins thinking about a new deal before the season starts. The position is at a premium in the NFL, and while the Dolphins have him for $1.7 million in 2015, the cost of keeping him beyond this season will be a steep price to pay for any team, let alone one like the Dolphins who will be cap-strapped in the coming years. 

Miami's best strategy is to get to the table with Vernon and his agent and work on a deal before training camp. Doing so will provide Vernon with financial security in the future while also saving the Dolphins money. They do not want him to hit the open market, one where edge-rushers could command anywhere between $8-$10 million per year. 

The good news for the Dolphins is that as of last February, Vernon has said that he'd be open to signing an extension with the Dolphins, while his agent, David Canter, has a very good relationship with the organization. 

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

RB Lamar Miller

Signing Lamar Miller, another homegrown Miami talent (played his high school ball at Killian High School in Miami's Kendall area before moving onto the Canes, then Dolphins) isn't as big of a priority as signing Vernon. 

One could argue that the Dolphins could afford to lose Miller, as he is a speed threat at running back who at times has struggled with finding running lanes and hasn't shown himself to be great as a pass-blocker or receiver. 

Despite these failings, you can't argue with his 5.1 yards per carry in 2014, or the fact that he solidified himself as the Dolphins top back last season. Miller helped make the offense go, and was instrumental in how efficient it became as the season wore on. 

This re-signing would be more of a morale-booster than anything else. Miller likely won't see very much on the open market, and if the Dolphins were to lose him, he does have a skill set that is replaceable in the draft. Yet as important as Miller was to the Dolphins offense, rewarding him with a fair contract prior to the start of the season in 2015 would be in the best interest for both parties. 

Statistics courtesy of NFL.com unless otherwise noted. 


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