Let's put aside the fanciful talk of adding this guy and re-signing that guy for a moment and consider what all this stuff is going to cost, shall we?
Let me scare you right off the bat:
If the Dolphins want to add an elite wide receiver this offseason in free agency -- assuming one is even available -- it is going to cost around $9-$11 million per season. That's according to former NFL agent and salary cap expert Joel Corry, who now writes about NFL contracts and the salary cap for the National Football Post.
"The high end UFA WRs will be looking at Vincent Jackson's 5-year, $55,555,555 deal ($26M GTD) as a benchmark," Corry tweeted to me on Thursday.
That is $11 million a year, folks.
Obviously, there are two things at play that must be stipulated.
That price is for a Vincent Jackson-type wide receiver. The player asking for that money must offer that enormous amount of talent. Jackson caught 72 passes for 1,384 yards (a whopping 19.2 yards per catch) and eight TDs in 2012. I'm not certain anyone on the market rises to that level of ability.
Jackson is a deep threat all day long and he also happens to be 6-5 and 230 pounds. (Yeah, amazing).
And the $11 million is the starting asking price. It is not necessarily the final price.
While any elite wide receiver on the market may want $11, I'm sure most will be talked off that skyscrapper ledge to a much lower floor. I'd say, and this is a conservative estimate, the elite wide receiver on the market this year will get around $10 million per season and it'll fall sharply from there. Remember, Wes Welker made $9.55 million under a franchise tag in 2012 and would cost $11.4 million if tagged in 2013 -- which is unlikely.
By the way, the cost of doing business in the wide receiver market won't be cheap for the Dolphins even if they stick with what they got. Pending free agent Brian Hartline, a No. 2 receiver, will be looking for $5-$6 million per year on the open market if he gets there.
Greg Jennings? He'll be hovering in the $8-$9 million annual range.
And the price at other positions won't be much cheaper.
Elite cornerbacks are expecting $10 million per season. Agents will be looking at Brandon Carr's five-year $50 million deal with Dallas and Jason McCourty's 5-year, $43 million deal to stay in Tennesee and see that as the numbers to shoot for.
So Carr is averaging $10 million a year while McCourty is averaging $8.6 million per year.
That's the zip code cornerback Sean Smith expects to inhabit at the start of free agency. And yes, he's likely going to free agency. I don't think the Dolphins will pay that kind of money for Smith. They see him as a good player who still has unmet potential. They do not see him as a game-changer or playmaker.
There are also questions about how Smith will react professionally once he gets paid. Will he cruise? Will he feel entitled? Will the work ethic suffer?
(Kindly post comments on whether you believe Sean Smith is worth $8.6 million per season in the appropriate section below).
That's the cost of doing business, folks.
The Dolphins will be lucky to re-sign Randy Starks for the $6 million a year Paul Soliai got in March of 2012. The Herald's Barry Jackson tells me the sides have opened talks but are not close.
I would imagine Starks will be the highest-paid DT on the team, seeing as he's the only one that's been to a couple of Pro Bowls. But I don't see how the Dolphins can pay him the $8 million per year that Vince Wilfork makes or certainly not the $12 million per year that Haloti Ngata makes.
So that might land him in the $7 million a year slot.
That might well be the cost of doing business.