NFL teams don't typically dive into the restricted free agent talent pool because the unrestricted free agent pool is so much more inviting. UFAs don't require teams to compensate the old team with draft picks. RFAs often do, the original teams typically have right of first refusal, and so teams often shy away.
I do not expect the Dolphins to make a big splash in restricted free agency. They did not last year. But Tuna Helper Jeff Ireland is going to scour the list below -- this one acquired from the National Football League Players Association by Dolphins In Depth -- and I would not be surprised if he seriously considers at least one player from the list.
Obvious player of interest to the Dolphins: Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys.
Austin, 24, is typical of the type of receiver Ireland and Bill Parcells covet. He's 6-3, 216 pounds, and he's proven he can stretch the field a little bit. In 2008 he caught 13 passes for 278 yards, which translates to a 21.4 yards per catch average. He had three touchdown receptions.
He can also return kicks, and should you not believe that, watch this:
The compensation for restricted free agents is based on the tender amount the original team places on the player. The beauty of Austin is that he was undrafted out of Monmouth in New Jersey. That means the Cowboys cannot put a draft choice compensation on him because the guy wasn't drafted so they would get nothing for him.
Of course, they can put a higher compensation on Austin but that takes up salary cap space -- approximately $1.5 million -- and the 'Boys are not exactly in cap space overflow. So they may have to expose Austin in hopes nodoby taps him, or with the expectation they will match whatever contract another team might offer. That is also dangerous as there are poison pills a team can put into any contract that would virtually guarantee the old team wouldn't match an offer.
None of those are pleasant thoughts for the Cowboys.
So all this makes Austin palatable to a receiver-hungry team like the Dolphins, one that happens to have a very good feel for the makeup Austin brings to the locker room and field. I grant you the guy is raw and young. He would not be signed to save Miami's receivers corps. He would be signed to add depth and compete and see what happens.
But he's worthy of keeping in mind.
OK, here is the rest of the restricted free agents (RFAs). Two days ago I gave you the list of the Unrestricted Free Agents so you can check back to that post if you want the full picture. The Dolphins, in case you are wondering, do not have any RFAs.
Arizona Cardinals: TE Leonard Pope, DT Gabe Watson.
Atlanta Falcons: OL Tyson Clabo, OL Harvey Dahl, S Jamal Fudge, OL Patrick McCoy, OL Ben Wilkerson.
Buffalo Bills: LB John DiGiorgio, LB Keith Ellison, S Dustin Fox, QB Gibran Hamdan, WR Justin Jenkins, WR George Wilson.
Baltimore Ravens: DE Sean Conover, RB P.J. Daniels, P/K Sam Koch, S Dawan Landry, CB Derrick Martin, WR Marcus Maxwell, LB Robert McCune, DT Brandon McKinney, CB Evan Oglesby, TE Quinn Sypniewski, WR Demetrius Williams.
Cincinnati Bengals: S John Busing, RB De De Dorsey, WR Glenn Holt, LB Rashad Jeanty, LB Brandon Johnson, LB Corey Mays.
Carolina Panthers: LB James Anderson, DT Gary Gibson, TE Jeff King, S Nate Salley.
Denver Broncos: OL Erik Pears.
Dallas Cowboys: WR Miles Austin, DE Stephen Bowen, TE Tony Curtis, WR Sam Hurd, OL Corey Procter.
Green Bay Packers: S Atari Bigby, WR Shaun Bodiford, CB Jarrett Bush, TE Troy Humphry, TE Jason Hunter, RB John Kuhn, WR Ruvell Martin.
Houston Texans: WR David Anderson, OL Rashad Butler, DE Earl Cochran, TE Owen Daniels, TE Joel Dreessen, DE Stanley McClover.
Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Brian Iwuh, RB Montell Owens, DE James Wyche.
Kansas City Chiefs: OL Rudy Niswanger, S Jarrad Page, WR Jeff Webb.
Minnesota Vikings: DT Fred Evans, CB Charles Gordon, DE Otis Grigsby, DE Jayme Mitchell, RB, Naufahu Tahi.
New England Patriots: LB Eric Alexander, OL Wesley Britt, LB Pierre Woods.
New Orleans Saints: OL Jahri Evans, WR Lance Moore, WR Courtney Roby, DT Montavious Stanley, OL Zach Strief, CB Leigh Torrence.
New York Giants: CB Kevin Dockery.
New York Jets: S Abram Elam.
Oakland Raiders: LB Jon Alston, LB Ricky Brown.
Philadelphia Eagles: WR Hank Baskett, OL Nick Cole, WR Willie Reid.
Pittsburgh Steelers: OL Willie Colon, LB Arnold Harrison, CB Anthony Madison, TE Sean McHugh, S Anthony Smith.
San Diego Chargers: WR Malcom Floyd, CB Cletis Gordon.
San Francisco 49ers: RB Zak Keasey.
St. Louis Rams: DE Victor Adeyanju, C Ritchie Incognito, OL Mark Setterstrom.
Seattle Seahawks: LB Lance Laury.
Tampa Bay Bucs: OL Donald Penn.
Tennessee Titans: LB Charles Bennett.
Washington Redskins: S Reed Doughty, OL Justin Geisinger, DT Kedric Golston, DT Tony Montgomery, K/P Shaun Suisham, LB Rian Wallace.