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The price of mediocrity? It's going up for the Dolphins

The Dolphins call this a measuring stick game.

And I would tell you that most observers who measure the Dolphins see them as a mediocre team -- at best. So what does a mediocre team do with starters that aren't quite stars but are good enough to threaten significant attention in free agency?

Whatever the Dolphins do it means the price of doing business with these players is going waaaay up after this season.

Whatever you think of Brian Hartline or Sean Smith or Randy Starks, all of them are going to get significant pay raises after their contract expire this year and heading into free agency. All of them. I tell you here the contract neighborhood those players expect to be after 2012.

I tell you where the contract talks are with those players. I also tell you here which player has had no contract negotiations with the Dolphins and is likely to be done playing for Miami after this season. (Hint: He plays running back).

Back to the measuring stick issue, today will offer comparison between the Dolphins and a team with championship aspirations. The Patriots, as you may know, are 18-0 in the second half of seasons since 2010, including 2-0 this year.

They're good.

So if the players we discuss above have a great game against New England or help the Dolphins beat the Patriots today, they will argue they're worth their high asking price. Fair.

But what if Miami loses? Does that mean those guys aren't worth it? I don't think so. The truth is the Dolphins can't really lose ground this offseason. They lost ground before this season in dealing away Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis and now wide receiver and cornerback are team needs.

So they're going to lose Sean Smith or Brian Hartline -- a cornerback and wide receiver -- and make a hole a bigger hole? It's an interesting situation.

By the way, there's a live blog today. Starts in the comment section. I'll be there around kickoff.

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