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The looming issues with contracts, salary cap

Talking to a Dolphins club source recently the subject of salary cap space came up.

"We're not in great shape but we're not in terrible shape," he said. "We're middle of the pack."

I am waiting on the current NFL cap numbers, but I estimate the Dolphins have approximately $10 million in cap space at this writing. So what to do with that cap space?

Free agency is over. But the Dolphins want to give themselves wiggle room in case any other "acorns" fall off a tree. If a player comes become available, as Chad Pennington unexpectedly did last season, the Dolphins want the cap room so they can be active in that market.

The club also has to sign its draft picks, needs to budget for a practice squad, and then there's the other thing:

The Dolphins have about a dozen free agents next year. The club cannot and will not re-sign all of them. But the team would like to re-sign some of them. And general manager Jeff Ireland and coach Tony Sparano already know which of those players they want to re-sign. They have a plan.

Of course they do, you're muttering.

Well, don't take that for granted. The fact is the Dolphins consider themselves to have an advantage over this time last year relative to their looming unrestricted free agents. Last year at this time, the new regime didn't really know its players.

Yes, Yeremiah Bell was healthy again but he had been able to play only 21 percent of the downs the previous four seasons. And the team didn't know about the player. They didn't know his work ethic and desire. So they could not and did not commit to signing him early.

Bell eventually proved himself to the club but, by the time he did, it cost more to give him a new contract in March than it would have prior to the season. The price had gone up and the Dolphins, through no fault of their own because they were playing it safe, had to pay the premium.

This offseason, Bill Parcells and his crew know their players. So they know which to prioritize.

This is an important subject because we're talking about some very valuable players that are unsigned. RB Ronnie Brown can become a free agent after 2009, so can QB Chad Pennington, CB Will Allen, OLB Matt Roth, tight ends Anthony Fasano and David Martin.

In the coming months, prior to the start of the season, the Dolphins hope to lock up some of these guys. It's not an easy situation made more uncertain by the current NFL labor situation.

Understand that unless a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, the 2010 season will included an uncapped salary situation. But that also changes the rules of the game for free agency. Suddenly players with less than six years of experience become restricted instead of unrestricted. And teams get multiple vehicles for tying up players -- such as transition and franchise tags.

That will be interesting to see play out. But the Dolphins are operating under the assumption their will be an agreement and rules will remain the same. For their purposes they're playing this as if all of their scheduled unrestricted free agents will, indeed, be free.

So here is the scenario for you. I have just appointed you Miami's GM (I have that power, you know) and now it is your job to handle finite cap space prior to the start of the season. How do you handle it?

How much space do budget for an "acorn?" Do you try to re-sign some of the pending free agents? Which ones are your priority, realizing you can't re-sign them all? And what do you do with Chad Pennington?

He's the starting QB now. He might not be in 2010. Do you let him go into 2009 without a new contract? Do you tell him he's the backup and offer backup money for 2010 -- knowing he's probably not likely to take that?

The Dolphins need advice. What the heck should they do? 


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My advice - Look up Ronnie and Fasano - prime of career players. Keep Pennington as your mentor for Henne and White - with a nice 1 or 2 year deal, unless he has another MVP type year. The others, are role players - Allen, solid not over the top!

Chad Pennington ,will leave the fins by end of 2009 for some other team for goo QB money unless;

1- Chad Henne becoms a bust next season w/ bad performance then fins can't afford to let Pennington .

2-no playoffs means, there's need to sign him for good money

As always, check the Sunday Herald for money saving coupons!


1-dolphins isn't a retirement home,every time a player has to go you guys call him a MENTOR.

2-chad will look for big money, he still young and look at Warner and he did last year.

3- ryan replaced vVck in hurry in atlanta and look what he did.if you play as QB as HENNE ,you should have or not .bty, he already spend a year w/Pennington,may be he should move in with him

Ronnie and Fassano should be the targets.
CP with backup money, this is a veteran that wanted some stability, if he realize that he can stick around with a 2 yr contract2-3.5MM, it could be good for both sides.

Wll Allen and Roth will need to wait until we see the development of new players on the team.

With all due respect Mando, I really see no reason for this article. What you call looming issues, really aren't issues. You didn't name a player that is irreplaceable. After this year this will be Henne's team so Chad will have to decide whether to come back as a backup or leave. And I think he will leave. Ronnie, probably will want Maurice Jones Drew money and I say let him walk because he will be 28 and really hasn't earned the money he has already made. Parcells and company are real good at picking good RB's so they can replace Ronnie in the draft. They have showed you that the money is spent on, and that is the lines. They will resign Fasano and Roth as these are core players that are entering their primes. Martin will be gone. We have gotten the best out of Will Allen, let him walk. Pennington, Allen and Brown will get nice deals on the market and net us some high compensatory picks in 2011.

Oh yeah and everyone just got an extra million in room because the salary cap went up again.

NFL agreed to allow chad johnson to wear his jersey with the name he wanted but this Ochocinco as one word not the way he want it as Ocho Cinco.

p.s, he wanted his new name as 2 words but when he applied to the nfl for it he wrote as 1 word Ochocino, he could have blamed the FL school system but he didn't

where is this perverbial "acorn tree"?

Shut up gopats, who are you to comment

At my house.

Couldn't they resign some of these guys like Brown to new contracts and include 2009 in there so that they can restructure there 2009 number so that it gives the fins more space this year if they need to sign an acorn. I'm sure Ronnie's number is pretty high. Ex: lets say Ronnie is making 8 mil this year (again not sure what he makes) couldn't they sign him for lets say 5 years 40 mil (2009:5 mil, 2010:6.5 mil, 2011:8.0 mil, 2012:9.5 mil, 2013:11 mil) giving us a smaller number this year and giving him an avg. of 8 mil a year......and do this for the other players they feel they need to keep around.....is this realistic option or are the fins pretty much stuck at 10 mil this year. Only asking because after the rookie signings I would think half that money is gone at the least and if the fins have to sign practice squad players there probably won't be to much money left after that!

Go Fins

Fins 12-4
NE 10-6
bills 9-7
jets 2-14

Jaksin now will run to your house to see the Acorn

Thank you for reminding me why I stopped my subscription. This information has been talked about ad naseum - no new information here. However, what was most distressing here was for a journalist the grammatical and spelling errors are horrific. I understand 1 or 2 for a clock beating blog but for a blog that you wrote just to post something this was very disappointing.

Resign Brown, Roth, and Fasano. They seem like they decided to be done with Chad after this season with the drafting of Pat White. If for any reason the season turns bad and they seem out of the playoffs then they must consider trading Chad during the season.

If Davis and Smith are excelling then they must consider trading Allen during the season or any other guy they are not intent on resigning.

Those are some good players Miami is going to have to allow to walk and it would be best to gain value via trade.

A quick review of the roster and contracts year tells me that everyone else should be an easy resign if they want them. One name that surprised was K Dan Carpenter. They'd be very wise to get him inked to a new deal if he is up this year. Bess's contract might be up as well this year? If so he appears to be an automatic resign but with the drafting of two new WR's pretty high, Ginn, London, Camarillo who knows. It would be hard to imagine Miami dressing 6 WR's on Sunday but since some have special teams prowess maybe.

Have to leave money for the Acorns as well but trade a guy the minute you can if he isn't in the longterm plans.

I imagine after next season they might either re up Ricky Williams at another affordable contract or draft younger.

1. You let Pennington walk, test the waters, and see if he wants to come back in a backup role cause with Henne and White the QB spot should be solidified and we'll only need a vet backup.

2. Resign Fasano now. This regime drafted him, traded for him, and likes him alot! You let Martin walk and hopefully Nalbone can fill his shoes.

3. You have to let Ronnie walk and test the waters cause he'll want top money and needs to earn it on this team. Good RB's are a dime a dozen and we can draft one next year to take over if needed.

4. Wait and see with Will Allen. If Vontae and Smith play up to par, let him walk. We'll still have Eric Allen as well and should be solid at that position.

5. Offer Roth average money and if he doesnt accept it, let him walk too. He doesnt blitz or cover exceptionally well so to pay top money for him would be a waste.

Re-sign Ronnie and Fasano. Let Martin go. Offer Pennington decent backup money, and see if he takes it. We already have our future replacement for Allen, but if he can still play at a high level at the end of the season, then we keep him. As for Roth, he needs to step up his game, so let's see what kind of progress he makes this season before deciding on him.

Good explanation Mando.

I think Roth is the most underrated guy on the team.

He is a monster at setting the edge and does a decent job in coverage. I believe he will continue to improve and will be the 1st and 2nd down OLB. Wake spells Porter and JT comes in for Roth when we have a pass rush situation.

I'm not so sure they try to hard to keep Ronnie, I love the guy but with a big time OLine and White running the wildcat Brown may be expendable. Similar to the Broncos for so many years - just plug in any running back. They probably let him test the market and he results in supplemental picks.

Next year I see Pat White and Henne in an all out battle for starter. Either one can bomb the ball down field that's when you go after another deep threat probably in the draft. Pennington will be our starter this year. He becomes expendable next year.

Either Martin or Fasano become expendable next year - probably Martin.

This is the reason Miami won't go after Boldon.

Jeff Ireland loves acorns, he is just a squirrel trying to get a nut.

NJ PHIN, what reason you are talking for not going after Boldon ?
you got to say what you refer to then people like me can learn and take it to bank as if it was my idea

If the Trifecta want my advice they'll have to pay me 5mil per year. Let me know if they want my number.

MJZ, they have mr Bunglito's number,they don't care for you

bunglito is funny, but no football genius. If they have his number it is only to find out newest azzzzzzz jokes.

gopats. The salary cap is the reason. also mr bunglito says thanks and he does have a direct line to the tuna. The tuna says he wants to keep fasano and roth. He would like to keep brown , but only at good deal.

I will check with my sources to see if your cap numbers are good... Armando you are a fraud!

Nj phin and bunglito having some afternoon delight cake together?

some how i feel that cam cameron had an open hot line to souljabhbeat all his years he was here.
p.s thanks for the Boldon info

I say sign Ronnie Brown to a 6 year deal. Allen and our TE's we should wait on. We need to see how our new players play. If we got 2 great CBs and Green turns out to be solid we can let Allen go. Same with our TE's We have Haynos who they liked last year and picked a new one in the draft. I like Fasano and Martin and I think we should keep 1 not both. Roth has only 1 year exp at his position and we need to see how he does this year. I don't know how many years the other OLBs have. Wake is new we need to see how he does. Taylor is a 1 year deal. If Roth will sign a deal that is a steal we should offer that at least. I don't care if we have no $ for acorns as long as we sign Brown.

some how i feel again that nick satan had an open hot line to Carlito all his years he was here.

How dare you say my name with that traitor Nick Satan!

y-not Good point here - "I think Roth is the most underrated guy on the team."

However, I would venture to say that the Miami fan base and media is about the worst there is with respect to valuing the players we have.

Ronnie Brown is routinely considered as trade bait and is presumed to be just "above average".

Will Allen gets little respect.

Joey Porter is deemed to "run out of gas" the last 4 games of the year, when in fact defenses game planned to stop him with double teams.

Jake Long did not get much praise last year, instead the general attitude was "well, he should play great, he was the #1 pick was he not?" Even though the draft is littered with #1 picks that disappoint.

Crowder is not that good, even though he is a tackling machine since "he does not cause enough turnovers." Hence, he is not "an impact player."

With a dearth of quality QB's in the league, most are salivating anyway to get rid of or bench Penne "cause his arm is not strong enough."

Ted Ginn is a bust cause he is "only a solid #2 WR". OK, I wish he was a #1 too, but I'll take a solid #2 over a complete bust any day.

Vernon Carey, the Trifecta saw fit to make him the highest paid RT in the league, yet according to most fans and media "he is only average and can't move people off the line."

To be fair, I have heard good and consistent praise for some players, like Camarillo, Y. Bell, Ferguson and Bess. But its far and few between.

Even Langford and Merling get the criticism even though as rookies they played very well. The rap on them? They don't pass rush well enough (yet).

Are Fin fans and media the biggest cry babies in the NFL? A case can be made.

i can change that carlito and iswitch you Jim johnson but i have to add beside the open line advice , you did his hair also,you pick now and i can move DFAN in

I can smell it in the air that Gopats had direct line to Rod Rust and Dick Macpherson, coaches of pats from 1990 1-15 until 1992.

Carlito, where i came from we didn't have phones

Also Rod Rust and Dick Macpherson real names of Pats coaches that sound like old porn stars is a true story. Ask gopats.

The one guy I am most sure that they should NOT re-sign is probably the best impending free agent - Will Allen. Do you know he got one vote as an AP All Pro last year? And IMO he deserved it. However, he turns 31 in August (and 32 in August of 2010). You simply can't throw money at a 32 year old corner, b/c the drop is precipitous (just like running backs). Look how suddenly Madison and Surtain became just average players.

Did you come from the past because even Golfito had phones in 1990.

Quit trying to cover up your relationship with disgrace pats coaches Rod Rust and Dick Macpherson and their old porn star names.

Fasano is a very functional player b/c he can block and catch (his TD grab in NY against the Jets is one of the most underrated catches of the year). He plays hard and made a ton of plays last year. I would try to get him re-signed.

Ronnie is really the only "must sign" free agent. Cobbs isn't an every down back. Ricky's getting old. They really don't have anyone else. Fasano would be good to have back, too.

Right now, I would take $5,000 and put it towards a publicity campaign to tell people to stop mentioning Anquan Boldin. He's not coming here (and shouldn't be). The team we have now will be the team we have in September. There will be no Chad Penningtons falling in the Dolphins' lap this year.

thanks Carlito for putting out these two pats rod and dick as satan and cam for the fins .thier names are fit for bad coaches;

Someone called me out on Jason Taylor yesterday so let me clarify that:

1. I am still shocked he was re-signed.
2. I dont think he should be a full time starter at his age b/c he will wear down and I love that the Dolphins will use him as a pass rusher only to keep him fresh all year.
3. I love the guy as a player not only for his talent but b/c he played so hard and with so much passion. I have never seen a player care more than he does. IMO, thats what has made him a Hall of Fame candidate and not just a pro bowler.

Gopats, Rod Rust and Dick Macpherson. You can't make that stuff only the truth is that funny.

David Martin is one of the best tight ends in the NFL at doing one thing - stretching the seam. However, he is not a great blocker, which is why I would keep Fasano and not him. If they could re-sign Martin at a reasonable price that would be great, but you cant have a lot of money tied up in your #2 tight end.
I think Nalbone is going to get groomed to replace David Martin.

I would resign Fasano and Roth. I'd try to offer them both 2-3 year deals that are on par with the "average" starter at their position. Fasano is a pretty good receiving TE and has a known value there, plus he may develop further. Roth is also still developing as a SOLB and is actually quite good against the rush (our best LB last season in p.o.a. rush average).
We should ask Chad P is he's willing to sign on as a back-up/mentor. Be clear with him and see if he'd be willing to take that role at this point in his career. He's a smart dude, he may bite. If he agrees, we resign him for a veteran minimum type deal, otherwise we let him walk.
I'd love to see us keep Will Allen, but if we can't get him in on the cheap and the rookie CBs look legit, we can let him walk too (at least then we'll get a 5th or 6th round compensation pick for him).
As for Ronnie Brown, I'd have my franchise tag ready and waiting for him. Then the ball is in our court. If he was healthy all season and ran hard, we could lock him up then. If we don't fall in love with what we see from him, we can trade him for value.
David Martin can be let go. He shows flashes of "good" between his usual sub-par performance.

madison and surtain became average players because they spent too much time on the field playing save the day for inconsistant offenses. before the draft armando posted miami had 13.4 million in cap space now only 10 million by his estimate. what happened to that 3.4 million? resign fasano he is the most complete tight end miami has had since keith jackson.

Charlie, is saying to talk to pennington to stay for little money as back up and mentor as if the NFL full of good QB players.pennington isn't a dish washer in resturant,he's a great QB who took you from 1-15 to 11-5.


i like roth and i know he has only a year at a new position but he got killed all year by running backs coming out the backfield on pass plays. most noteably denvers fb. the guy had what 110 plus yards receiving?

Sammo. How about the 1.1 mil they just gave taylor and the money for all the undrafted free agents miami just signed.

i just thought of that after i posted nj phin fan. i stand corrected.

I think Joey's last year with the team will be this coming season.

NJ, if the Fins wanted Boldin I think they could make room for him. They really do any restructuring this year on any deals. They are not "capped strapped". If you take a good look at Boldin you can see why he is not worth trading any first day picks for him.

1. He is 28. Can you honestly say his best days are ahead of him? I think he only has 2 or 3 elite years left.

2. He plays recklessly. He is like a running back. He has gotten injured time and again throughout his career and he will continue to get injured.

3. 8-10 million dollars a year? Are you serious? TO never got more than 8 a year and Boldin is not better than TO in his prime.

4. I don't think he is a good as everyone thinks. He is in a pass happy system... He plays across from the best WR in the game...

Don't get me wrong, if he was a FA, I would be first in line to sign him but in a trade... I wouldn't give up more than a 3 for him.... In the NFL, when you are patient... Guys like Boldin fall into your lap... If Cardinals drag their feet with his contract and he gets injured again(and he will) don't be surprised if they cut him next March.

The whole league just got an extra 990,000 added to the salary cap today.

Marcus. What's your point ? I agree with you. i don't want boldin for what we would have to give up. I just made that statement for all the posters who keep demanding to go get boldin. It's not that easy. Wow. this is the 3rd day in a row i agree with comments including your earlier point.

Chad Pennington is a top 15 starter in this league. I can name 7 teams that could use him right now and he will be in demand next offseason. He is too competitive and there is no way he signs on to be a backup here.

1. San Fran
2. Minnesota
3. Cleveland
4. Buffalo
5. NY Jets
6. Oakland
7. Tennesse

I was just making conversation. I told you I know football... We just disagreed about Butler but I don't know if we really disagreed about that either... I just said I thought he looked liked a good player. You said Miami wouldn't take him in the first... You were right... I could still be right... Will see...

marcus. LOL . If you think about our butler debate, we were both coming from the same thought that he was a good player. Just where he would be drafted and if miami would draft him.

1-please don't upset NJ PHIN, what ever he says is always wright,that's why you never see him going BLA BLA BLA like us ,just learn .
2-thanks for listing how many teams love to have Pennington.


That is not a lot of cap space. So, we gotta sign the draft picks that make the team. Then we need some of the vets, but not all.
I like Roth but at a fair market value. He is a good player.
I wouldn't sign Ronnie. He has some monster games but other games he isn't even on the radar.
I don't remember a lot of long runs last season out of Ronnie.
Get Fasano and Pennington. Fasano can catch and block and Pennington will be able to handle coming off the bench if that is where he ends up. I still see him here until after the 2011 season.

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