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Stephen Ross: Money doesn't buy victories

With the uncapped year only days away, Dolphins fans can pretty much cast aside thoughts of their team breaking open the piggy bank as it dives into free agency.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told me moments ago that, "yes," the Dolphins have set an internal budget for 2010 and although he didn't want to get into specifics, he made it clear the team will neither be among 2010's highest spenders nor at the spending floor compared to other teams.

"I don't think money buys victories," Ross said as he walked to a meeting with other NFL owners at the Ritz-Carlton in Fort Lauderdale. "I think we have the right personnel to make the right decisions. And you do what you need to do. But you don't throw money at things just to buy victories. That doesn't do it. It's about your brains, not your pocketbook that does it."

Last season, the first under Ross as owner, the Dolphins spent a lot of money. According to NFLPA figures the team's total payroll of $126,855,921 was the second highest in the NFL behind only the New York Giants and their $137,638,866 total payroll.

And Ross seems to be correct in essentially saying money doesn't buy happiness because four of the top five spending teams in 2009 -- Miami, the Giants, Houston and Chicago -- did not make the playoffs. The fourth-highest spending team, New Orleans, won the Super Bowl. 

Miami's 2009 spending came with a caveat that won't affect the team this year: The Dolphins had multiple unrestricted free agents of their own they opted to sign -- Vernon Carey, Yeremiah Bell, Channing Crowder. And then they also chased outside free agents, including Gibril Wilson and Jake Grove.

That skewed Miami's cash outlay upward. The Dolphins likely won't be paying big signing bonuses to five high-priced free agents this year.

But again, Ross said the football men will be able to do "what they feel is necessary," to help the team. That suggests the Dolphins won't at the spending floor, either. That's smart because the Dolphins don't have a waiting list for season ticket holders. They need to win to keep people coming to games.

And speaking of coming to games, Ross said the team would announce, "probably today," its new ticket prices. The Dolphins say the announcement, in fact, will be later this week. But it seems clear the team will raise the price of at least some tickets.

In years when ticket prices have remained the same, the team has historically not felt the need to make an announcement.

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