It was a failure from the beginning and no amount of experimenting at H-back this training camp could change that.
So the Dolphins have released receiver-tight end Ernest Wilford, according to agent Drew Rosenhaus. Rosenhaus confirmed the release on his twitter account.
It is an expensive proposition for the Dolphins to erase perhaps their greatest free agency mistake since Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland started handling that department. How expensive?
Wilford will cost the Dolphins $4.5 million against the cap while playing for some other team or simply sitting at home.
As I first explained on Feb. 10 (click on the archives, if you like) NFL accounting rules have changed this year and that means teams, including Miami, must immediately account for the salary cap consequences of the moves they make. The fact there is no scheduled salary cap in 2010 has forced the NFL to change rules and one rule change is that teams can no longer defer the cap hit for a player into next year by releasing the player after June 1.
If a team releases a player this offseason, be it before, on, or after June 1, the entire amount of prorated guaranteed money comes due immediately.
So what does that mean to Miami as it pertains to Wilford?
Well, believe it or not, it costs the Dolphins more money to cut Wilford in 2009 than it would have to keep him on the roster.
Wilford signed a four-year, $13 million contract in February 2008 that included $6 million in guaranteed signing bonus. Wilford, who caught only three passes all of 2008, was due $1.5 million in 2009 base salary. Add the $1.5 million he costs the team in prorated bonus -- $6 million divided by 4 years = $1.5 million per year -- and his 2009 salary cap number if he stays with the team would have been $3 million.
But because the new rules force the Dolphins to absorb the entire proration for all three remaining years of Wilford's contract if he is cut, he will cost the team $4.5 million against the cap for simply getting rid of him. That figure is the yearly $1.5 million prorated portion of his bonus multiplied by the deal's three remaining years.
Is that crazy? The Dolphins actually cost themselves $1.5 million in cap space by cutting Wilford versus keeping him, an empty space costing more than one occupied by Wilford.
It is unclear if the Dolphins tried to trade Wilford to save themselves the cap hit. Obviously, if they made the effort, it failed.
Much like everything connected to Wilford's days in Miami. As you know he didn't practice or play well enough at the wide receiver spot to merit keeping him there. The Dolphins decided to experiment with him as a last, desperate way of trying to salvage Wilford's days in Miami.
So the team converted him to H-Back in the offseason. One problem: Just because Wilford was an enormous wide receiver, it didn't mean he'd be a good H-Back. He wasn't any faster than Miami's other H-Backs and, at 232 pounds, he was considerably lighter.
And he didn't block as well. For a team that builds everything it does offensively around running the football, the experiment was not going to succeed. And it did not.