We will live blog the Dolphins' regular-season finale today as we do every game day so be sure to be here for that today.
I will also be updating the inactives for today's game. Here's a hint: I do not believe Patrick Turner will be active today so if you're wondering, that is my educated guess. Simply, nothing has changed in recent weeks to cause the Miami coaching staff to put in an inexperienced receiver over any of the other four they usually activate on game days.
Regardless of whether he's active or not, I would say it's been a disappointing year for Miami's third-round pick of a year ago. Very disappointing.
[Update: Turner is indeed inactive. The others are Evan Oglesby, Andrew Hartline, Andrew Gardner, Lionel Dotson, Ryan Baker and Tyler Thigpen as the No. 3 QB. Joe Berger starts at center. Nate Garner starts at right guard for Donald Thomas. Troy Polamalu is inactive for Pittsburgh.]
Another thing I want to share with you as we prepare for a game that, in part, will determine whether Miami's season ends today or goes on, are two topics about next season:
I want to discuss salary cap structure. And I want to give you a quickie free agency tutorial.
The salary cap for 2010 is interesting, because there will be no salary cap. That means players such as Jason Allen, Ted Ginn Jr., Akin Ayodele, Reggie Torbor, Joey Porter, Gibril Wilson and others may find themselves in hot water because they under-performed this year.
And their prospects for performing up to their salaries in 2010 are not exceedingly good. That means the Dolphins can get rid of any of them without suffering a salary cap hit that typically keeps some under-performing players employed.
Check out how it works.
Secondly, is the topic of free agency.
It's going to be a baaaaad year for free agency. I was talking to former Herald colleague Jason Cole on Friday and we amassed our enormous brain power (he scored 1,500 on the SAT once and I, um, I have had ideas in my life) to figure what the free agent scenario will resemble come next spring absent a salary cap.
It will be this: All the big name players we all wish the Dolphins would sign won't be availble. There will be no Vincent Jackson or Braylon Edwards or Miles Austin because unlike typical years, free agency will not be available to players with four years or more experience. Free agency will be granted only players with six years of experience.
What does that mean? The biggest name pass-catcher to hit free agency will be New England tight end Ben Watson.
Pass rushers? Tully-Banta Cain might be available.
The point is all the top-tier 25- and 26-year-old players that typically hit free agency for the first time every year, aren't going to be free agents in 2010. They will be restricted free agents, meaning there must be draft pick compensation involved in getting them. And that compensation will typically be a first-round pick. So that dooms free agency -- at least in Miami, where draft choices are typically used for drafting, not trading.
But because the cap is not a factor, under-performing players that might otherwise stick with their clubs will be let go by teams next offseason. So what you will see is a bunch of players on the street that didn't live up to their past contracts. Those guys will be older, less accomplished, and have many more warts than a typical free agent.
That group will also be much bigger than the class of true unrestricted free agents because teams simply want to rid themselves of toxic contract.
That's the deal, folks.
Tell me what you think. And remember, the live blog starts here later on.