On the one hand, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is a billionaire. On the other hand, the Dolphins last season were one of the bottom five lowest spending cash-outlay teams in the NFL.
On the one hand, the club has few stars and no franchise quarterback. On the other hand, the team is cramped up against the cap unless it reworks some contracts. My estimate is Miami has $4-$6 million of cap room currently.
So what gives?
“Money will never be an issue for us becoming a winning football team," Ross boasted Monday. "That I can tell your ight now. We have to live with the limitations of the cap, the salary cap, as all teams do. Sometimes you lose players. You have to put your money where you really think it’s going to have the biggest impact."
Stop. That is true. Unfortunately, for the Dolphins, they've put an extraordinary amount of that money on the offensive line -- a unit that neither scores touchdowns, nor makes game-defining plays. And yet Jake Long has a cap number ($12 million) like many quarterbacks. The unit takes up approximately $20 million in cap space.
Long, however, is soon due for a contract extension.
"We have a lot of players expiring and we have to make sure we don’t make a stupid mistake by signing players with big names and big salary bonuses that are going to really impact the cap. You have to take that into consideration," Ross said. "One thing I’ve learned in response to your questions is this is one hell of a complex business, let me tell you -- in trying to figure out how you’re going to do things and maneuver things around within the system. I think that’s very important. But those players we know are coming up, we all know we want to retain them. We have to make sure we’re in a position to do that.”
I know, I know, many of you are going to try find fault with something Ross said. Let me suggest a different course: Read my column in today's paper.
It suggests we call a cease fire on the friendly fire for a bit. The Dolphins really, truly think they're doing good work. Most of us don't agree. But let's give them an undeserved benefit of the doubt for now until we see the finished product on the field, at least.
And let us remember there are other circus act teams in the NFL with their big tops wide open for viewing.
[Blog note: Coach Joe Philbin will be available at the NFL annual meeting this morning. I'll be back here to blog what he says. Come back for the updates throughout the day.]