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Ireland, Dolphins deserve praise for cap situation

Some of you guys are going to hate this post.

As the new league year and free agency nears -- it begins on March 12 at 4 p.m. -- teams must be prepared to be under the salary cap that is estimated to be around $121-$123 million, depending on what source you believe. The NFL will divulge the actual cap ceiling number in the coming days.

[Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports the number will be $123.9 million.]

[Update: The actual figure is $123 million. Mort's math isn't great, apparently, but what's $900k among friends?]

And with that number and March 12 looming, multiple teams have been scrambling either cutting players or restructuring contracts to get under the cap.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, and New Orleans Saints all either cut players or restructured contracts to help create cap room for themselves in the coming weeks.

Other teams, such as the New York Giants, might be ble to do little by way of re-signing their own players because they expect to be knocking their helmets on the cap's ceiling.

Meanwhile, all is well with the Miami Dolphins. All is quiet. Nothing to see here.

Why?

Well, because Jeff Ireland has done an excellent job saving his (or owner Stephen Ross's) pennies the past couple of years and the savings have added up to a boon in cap space this year.

Obviously, the idea that Miami will have major cap space this offseason is not new. I've been telling you about it for months.

But the idea that it truly is not happenstance -- that is took work, foresight and planning by Ireland and executive VP for football administration Dawn Aponte and their staff -- seems to have gone unappreciated. That isn't fair.

Look, when the Dolphins spent wildly after the 2008 and 2009 seasons and at one point had the most expensive offensive line in football and got minimal return on that investment, I pointed it out. Often.

Well, fairness dictates that Miami amassing approximately $48 million in cap space for this offseason -- the third highest total behind Cincinnati and Cleveland -- get equal attention.

It creates a grand opportunity to remake a mediocre team into a winner. And that opportunity didn't just mosey into the picture. It was every bit as planned as a group Harlem Shake.

(Peanut gallery: But Mando, the reason the Dolphins have so much cap space is because they're just a mediocre team that didn't make the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. If you're not in the playoffs, you should have cap space the next offseason.)

Wrong.

Let us refer back to the list of teams above that had to do invasive surgery on their contract structure to get out from under their salary cap ailments. The Bills didn't make the playoffs. Neither did the Jets. Neither did Dallas, Oakland, Philadelphia, Detroit or New Orleans.

Indeed, several had records comparable to Miami. So their rosters last year led them to basically the same results as what the Dolphins got on the field, but then took them to a much rockier path this offseason.

That's not getting optimal bang for the buck. Or quid. Or peso. Or yen. Or euro, which I predict will collapse within five years.

(Peanut gallery: But Mando, having no cap space is not a big deal. All those teams did restructures and they are fine now.)

Wrong again, gallery of nuts.

Restructuring a contract typically treats the symptom but doesn't cure the disease. It alleviates the pain short-term but because the cap burden is piled upon future years that are already burdened, it often creates a dire situation in the future. Some teams that continually delay the inevitable reach a point of saturation that leads to a cap dump.

The Dolphins of the mid 1990s had to do this when Don Shula added lots of players in 1994 and 1995 for what was billed as a final run at a Super Bowl. The franchise found itself in cap heck in 1996 and '97.

The San Francisco 49'ers did the same thing later in the decade and when the bill came due it led the franchise down the losing road from which it only recently detoured.

The point is there is no way to cheat the salary cap. It must be managed wisely to keep a team in position to enjoy its benefits.

Jeff Ireland and his team have done that for 2013. I recognize many of you don't like the idea of giving Ireland credit for much of anything. Those folks understand why I started saying you might not like reading this post.  

Comments

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Armando must write these articles to purposely anger us fans. Ireland deserves praise for saving money? That's like praising a mom for hoarding all her money while her kids starve to death. Ireland should have spent that money a long time ago on better players. Our team is mediocre because Ireland (and all that saved-up money) hires medicore players. When you're FORCED to hire mediocre players cuz you are broke, that is allowed. But when you have lots of money but hire mediocre players because you CHOOSE to willingly, that is poor management. And poor writing if anyone praises that

Having the money just means you dont have any great players....in year 6 of Irescum.

Bobby moron. Silly man u are..
Your calculation makes no sense because many teams draft players to start.

Parcells infamous quote about being the cook he should be allowed to buy the groceries, came back to haunt us big time. Year 1, in Miami, Mr Cook(Parcells) was allowed to buy the groceries.

Gues what he bought, folks? INSTANT MASHED POTATOES!

Not real, but instant. Clearly evident in the 2008 11-5, division winning, one and done playoff run. We havent sniffed the playoffs since. So much for letting Parcells shop for the groceries.

Next Post:

Mando,

You're right, I hate this post. While everything you state may be true, it's also VERY misleading as you COMPLETELY neglect to mention that the PRIMARY reason we have $48 million in cap space is due to the fact that we have so many KEY free agents who, up until this point, we've made ZERO progress on re-signing. I don't think anyone can argue that one of the primary responsibilities of a good GM, and often overlooked, is their ability to identify key core players and to get them locked up before they ever hit free agency. It's smart business and cap friendly over the long term, and Ireland has done a HORRIBLE job in that regard. Let's face it, for any decent player, once you get this close to free agency, it behooves them to let themselves hit the open market because they're going to cash in and make more money, even if they do end up returning to their old team. In the Dolphins case, let's just take 2 examples: Brian Hartine and Sean Smith. In both cases, good (no, not great) players who EASILY could have been re-signed to modest extensions at any point in the last 1-2 seasons. Now, even if they end up staying, we're going to have to pay market (i.e. top) value to keep them in Miami which, ultimately in the long run, will have a negative impact on our cap situation. I'm sorry, but I'm just not drinking the Kool-Aid that Ireland has suddenly turned the corner and is now an excellent GM simply because we have $48 million in cap space. Yes, we have lots of draft picks and lots of $ to spend, but we also now have more holes to fill than we ever have...think about it.

What I ave not considered until now, is it possible that Jeff Ireland has been trying to do this thing the way he envisioned, while also trying to undo the damage our infamous grocer shopper Parcells has done?

I say its quite possible.

Step 1 may have been first to regain control of the salary cap Parcells made of mess of with Smiley, Grove, Wilford, and Gebril Wilson.

Step 2 may have been to flush our systems of the Food Lion calibre grocer cabinet stock(Parcells underachiever picks).

So, in order to get this franchise to where Ireland envisions it should be. Maybe, just maybe, what Ireland has been doing the last past couple seasons, is systematically undoing all of the damage that Mr. Buy My Own Groceries has done.

If all of this is true, then this offseason will be step 3:

Placing a winning football team on the field.

Are the dolphins involved in anything right now? Wtf is going on? You hear about all these players who have been cap casualties visiting other teams, but nothing about the dolphins??? This is our chance to finally get it right for once! Let's not mess it up!

OK guys this is my final 2013 pre-season mock for the Dolphins:

This whole thing is based upon Jennings moving to Miami. If by any chance Wallace happens to reject Brady and move to Miami, my 1st pick would be a trade-down for Keenan Allen or Tyler Eiffert.

1> Cordarrelle Patterson WR
2> Cornellius Carradine DE (FSU)
2> Darius Slay CB
3> Ryan Swope WR
3> Josh Evans S (UF)
4> Dustin Hopkins K (FSU)
5> Michael Mauti LB
7> Zac Stacy RB
7> Brandon Magee OLB

Lane Johnson will not be there at #12 so I would tag Jake Long and part ways with both Sean Smith and Brian Hartline. Instead I would look hard into FA for a solid OG (like Andy Levitre) and an effective dual-purpose TE (Martellus Bennett I hope?). Let's just pray Jennings is still interested in moving to Miami. He doesn't want to be tagged by the packers anyway.

Posted by: phins5150 | March 02, 2013 at 02:06 PM

More instant mash? That didnt work when Parcells was the cook in the kitchen.

Geesh, I know that we have a very nice capsituation. But folks still we're not able to sign every stiff thats been cut loose. Its a mathmatical impossibility.

Not to mention, its the road that leads back to salary cap pergutory.

Now, if we could somehow get a few of these has been stiffs to come in and play for the vet minimum, then we maybe onto something.

Remember, they arent true fa's, they're fa's because the became Cap casualties. With SALARY+CAP being keywords.

If we decide to go WR in the 1st rd of the draft, I agree with some of the earlier posters that Tavon Austin would have to be in consideration.

Again it would depend on what we do in free agency but my guess is Paterson would be the first choice either way. He has the best combo of size, speed, and hands.

Its looking to be a good possibility after the combine though that he could be gone before we pick.

Pre combine I think both Austin and Allen we be considered a tad bit of a reach for us but I think the feeling was if we didn't get a #1 in free agency that because of need, Allen would be be a decent fit for us at 12. He is fairly poished and has the size and speed to be a true #1, although not the burner that Patterson and Austin are.

I think Austin could still move up the boards a litte though and would be lethal in the slot with Wallace and Harltine on the outside.


Remember, the key is to bring in younger and more talented players, not older and moldier players.

You dont want to bring in all of these old cap casualties guys who still want to play for a premium price. Vet minimum is fine. Premium pay isnt.

I don't think we have a need for Cullin Jenkins. Would rather have Mcdaniel back.

Having the money just means you're like an expansion team....in year 6 of Irescum.

I for one still feel our best way to get better is to shore up something. Even though the so called experts say there's no elite wr I think this is the best wr class I seen ever. At least 10 that has a chance to make the pro bowl at some point. I would load up.

Posted by: Dolfan Rick | March 02, 2013 at 02:18 PM

Dolfan Rick,

No offense but think about what you just said in this post:

"I think Austin could still move up the boards a litte though and would be lethal in the SLOT with Wallace and Harltine on the outside."

I highlighted SLOT in your post because I see absolutely no way a 1st rd pick is made on Austin to bring him in as a SLOT wr.
That's borders along insanity. Especially, if he cant at least beat out Hartline for the #2 wr spot.

..People are harshing Ireland saying that this situation the team finds itself in is circumstance. That because so many of our free agents are up for new contracts of course we have lots of cap space. Because the team has no bigtime players under contract..Of course we are under the cap.

Well, think about it. The team could have restructured contracts the last few years. We could have created space just like every other team in Cap trouble does. We could have offered extensions to some of these free agents. We could have negotiated contracts. We didn't. This is where Ireland deserves a ton of credit. He has cleaned house the best he can with limited resources knowing that if the team, the owner the fans could hold on. That we would get to this point.

Now it is time where the rubber hits the road. The last 2 years of frugal spending, Lower tier acquisitions to just have a body are over. Now lets see if Ireland can follow through, and get the right players. He did all the hard work already. Now it is time for the team to reap the rewards.

The question is...Can he do it?

Ireland has run this team 10 feet under ground. Once Parcells cut the puppet strings Ireland did the monster FLOP!!

Dolfan Rick,

If we got WEallace, resigned Hartline, and drafted Austin 1ST RD. You best believe its Hartline thats being moved into the slot reciever positon.

That would make Bess either 4th wr or 3rd to 6th rd trade bait.

DD, we all know Ireland cant do anything right.

We need to resign Starks and bush(if reasonable) in my opinion. I'd like to see jake long back, but not to the point where we handcuff ourselves in the future.

I then think we get either Wallace((preferred ) or Jennings then draft Patterson at 12.

With $49m we should be able to try at Jared cook as well or the cb from either sf or Houston.

DD,

You have to keep in mind that players have to agree to contract restructure. A gm can not take it upon himself to restructure a players contract.

What was Ireland to do, cut every player that didnt agree to a contract restructure? I think not, then we would have more holes than already currently on this roster.

It also isnt a given fa's come in and play at a very high level. Plus, when signing a top fa, that player may want more money than the guy you asked to restructure.

So youre right back into cap pergatory, only a little deeper.

Posted by: Nat Moore | March 02, 2013 at 02:34 PM

Yeah right.

First thing Ireland needed to do once Parcells left, was totally demolish the the woodhouse shack that Parcells bult on a sinking foundation.

Posted by: Nat Moore | March 02, 2013 at 02:34 PM

Also, have you noticed how the players brought in the 1st 2-3yrs under Parcells have or are being systematically vanished? Eve Parcells "handpick hc candidate" has been made to disappear.

Tony Sparano!

..MJ. I used to think so too. Look, Ireland has made some mistakes. But, if he can pull this off. If his vision and his players.(the way I see it, nobody on this roster is soley his responsibility before September 2010) can pan out. Everything he has failed to do would be forgottten. This is his time.

I can't blame anyone for being cynical. Ireland comes across as a baffoon, as an arrogant douche bag. I don't care. If he can put together a winning team, and a formula for sustained success. He can ask whatever questions, and come across however he wants.

I'm not saying that Irealnd will do the right thing. Im just suggesting that this is the best situation this team has been in as far as picks, and abundant salary in 15 years. Things are looking up.

When I get past the wins and loses, I begin to see that Ireland has been in full "Parcells" cleanup mode as soon as Parcells left the building.

Well I would say this YG. If you had Wallace, Hartline, and Austin. I would hope Harltine would be the one on the sdeline in 2 wr sets.

So I get what your sayin.

I did find this comment on Austin by one scout.

"Strong effort as a blocker, but obviously limited in this area and can be tossed by defenders when they get their hands on him. Probably relegated to the SLOT at the next level. Too much all-or-nothing runs."

I think he definately goes mid to lower 1st rd in the draft though.

One clue that Ireland isnt Parcells, is that Parcells doesnt believe in taking qb's 1st rd.

Ireland took Tannehill 8th overall when all of us werescreaming our Parcellian noooooooooooooooo........

Too much all-or-nothing runs."

Posted by: Dolfan Rick | March 02, 2013 at 02:48 PM

I definitely agree on this part, because I didnt agree with how Baylor featured him so much in the run game. No pro team would do this with him. I think he had more carries than their rb's.

Also, it does make you wonder how a 170lb wr will consistently get off of jams at the line of scrimmage. But, oh well, Austin really isnt my st rd wr pick for us either.

My personal pick would be the bigger, stronger, superstar upside Patterson. If we get Wallace, we already have blow the top off of defenses deep speed.

Patterson is a great YAC reciever who can make a catch, break a tackle or make a guy miss, home run threat. A Wallace/Patterson combo could be highly lethal. Both have take it to the house potential on any given catch.

Hartline is too much of a make a catch and go straight to the ground guy to me. Check Hartline's stats. You should find him near the bottom rung of YAC.

Tha's why Hartline will never be a big td producing wr in this league. Sure he has a great YPC, but YAC's more often leads to TD'S.

It's amazing to me how the fire irealnd crowd talks about the great job that parcells did and "turned us around" in 2008.

Then the pro ireland crowd is saying you can't blame the first 3 years on ireland because parcells was making the decisions..lol

Either way we haven't sustained anything really.

Ross I think got some advice and signed Ireland to a 2 year contract because there weren't alot of better options out there and Ireland has alot of support throughout the league that he's starting to get this thing figured out. Lets see his plan works out.

And hope Philbin and company work out as well. They certainly have a boatload of experience.

It's amazing to me how the fire irealnd crowd talks about the great job that parcells did and "turned us around" in 2008.

Then the pro ireland crowd is saying you can't blame the first 3 years on ireland because parcells was making the decisions..lol

Either way we haven't sustained anything really.

Ross I think got some advice and signed Ireland to a 2 year contract because there weren't alot of better options out there and Ireland has alot of support throughout the league that he's starting to get this thing figured out. Lets see his plan works out.

And hope Philbin and company work out as well. They certainly have a boatload of experience.

Posted by: Dolfan Rick | March 02, 2013 at 02:48 PM

Meant to say WVirginia, not Baylor.

LMFAO at all the Ireland haters!

Most of these guys were the same people who were praising all the aggressive moves made by the Jet's GM to get them to the AFC Championship. We saw what going "all out" in FA and reaching for "playmakers" did to make that team a perennial powerhouse.

Most of the Ireland haters are Clueless! SMH.

Posted by: Dolfan Rick | March 02, 2013 at 03:03 PM

Exactly why I posted oce we getg past the wins and losses, unseeingly veiled in those, Ireland may have been in total cleanup mode once Parcells left the building. Both in salary cap and Food Lion quality groceries Parcells bought and created.


Patterson is a great YAC reciever who can make a catch, break a tackle or make a guy miss, home run threat. A Wallace/Patterson combo could be highly lethal. Both have take it to the house potential on any given catch.

Posted by: Yesterday's Gone 4Ever! | March 02, 2013 at 02:59 PM
-------------------------------------------------------
Like I said YG. Patterson shoud be the 1st choice but he had such a good combine that now someone could snatch him up before we pick.

Then I guess if your gonna wr 1st rd you have to choose Austin or Allen.

Of course the other options are cb,ol,de 1st rd and wr 2nd and / or 3rd rds.

Parcells bought and served stale bologna sandwiches to the starving dolfan fanbase. He decieved us into thinking we were eating steak dinner. LOL...

I always love your posts Armando, but come on we are now under the cap like Cincinnati and Cleveland, and this is supposed to be a good thing??? Have either of those franchises won a playoff game in the last two decades???? The reason we are under the cap is because we have crappy talent!

Philip Merling
Vontae Davis
Chad Henne
Michael Egnew
Pat White
Clyde Gates
D Thomas (cost 3 picks)
Charles Clay
Frank Kearse
A.J Edds
John Nalbone
Shawn Murphy
J D Folsom
Josh Kaddu
BJ Cunningham
Chris McCoy
Patrick Turner
Nolan Carrol
Austin Spitler

.
Thats quite the resume' Jeffy

Parcells had us in the playoffs in year one. Thats why he's in the HOF. A winner everywhere he went.

It could worse believe it or not. We could be over the cap with crappy talent.

At least it makes more sense what they were doing last year now. I just couldn't get why weren't making any serious effort to add wr's last year. I was about to have a coronary.

Credit given to have this much cap space.

Problem is he has alienated the players in this league that no elite free agent will come here!

We will be giving him credit again next year when noone signs here.

The team will continue to play musical chairs with players as long as Ireland keeps supplying garbage.....

You get judged as a GM or Head coach on playoff runs and playoff wins. No other kudos need be mentioned all other points are mute.

Dolfan Rick,

If someone plans to get Patterson ahead of us, very doubtfully it will be top 5. Bottom 10(8th-11th) could be likely. Jets sit at #9, Walter Camp actually mocks them to take Patterson there.

Still if we have conviction on Patterson, we do have the ammo to move up to #8. Im not sure what the value chart says we have to give up. But 4 spaces to #8, imo, should only take 2 3rd picks at most.

One this year and one next year. However, I still think that the Jets have bigger fish to fry than taking a wr at #9. They dont even have a consistent qb(Sanchez) to get him the ball. Sometimes new GM's can also mean new qb.

If I were the Jets, my pick here would be Geno Smith, then look at wr's 2nd-3rd rd.

Jeff Ireland, the worst GM ever?

Hey, he'll never have a winning record but at least Ireland saves Ross a few bucks.

Mark Sanchez is dancing in the middle of the traffic on "BUST BLVD". The Jetys would be nuts not to draft a qb #9. Especially if Geno Smith is still availble.

We took Tannehill at #8. Geno Smith has far more college qb's underneath his belt and will probably become a far better qb than Sanchez has shown.

I consider Geno Smith a value at #9 for the WETS.

I'd like to see us get Geno Smith even if we have to trade up a few spots.

lol the point value chart I have in my favorites in from 2006.

It says the 8th pick is worth 1400 points and the 12th 1200.

200 points in that chart is basically a mid 3rder.

I hope we don't trade any though unless it's on proven talent or at least a more high percentage pick. Patterson does have some questions as far as being raw.

That ain't happening Shula71

Geno is a local kid, Miramar I think.

Posted by: Dolfan Rick | March 02, 2013 at 03:31 PM

Like I said, moving ahead of the Jets if we had conviction on Patterson and they were a huge threat to get him, would be fairly inexpensive.

Posted by: Shula 71 | March 02, 2013 at 03:34 PM

TYhe best local Miami qb still has to play one more college season before being eligible for the draft.

Teddy Bridgewater, Miami Northwestern High.

This kid is on Heisman Watch for the 2013 college season. Bridewater has been amazing in 2012.

Bridgewater plays for Louiville Cardinals. Keep an eye on this kid in 2013.

Don Shula NEVER had 4 losing seasons in a row.

With all the money saved under the cap, it appears Miami's best option for a new general manager would be to hire a cerified public accountant.

Yes, Geno Smith did play for Miramar High.

As I read thru this Blog, my Eyes beguin to close......

I can see us taking 2 WR's in this draft but neither in RD 1. There are a couple good reasons for this assumption.

1) Ireland doesn't show a history of picking WR in Rd 1 and neither did the Packers in Philbin's tenure with the Packers. Statistically, WR aren't as sure a thing as other position and generally take longer to develop.

2) A look at Packer's drafts show that they did go after WR's frequently in the 2nd Rd. There seems to be a lot of WR's projected for that Rd. Looking at Ireland's draft history, he likes to double up on positions of need in from the late 1st to the early 3rd Rd.
He did this with Merling and Langford in 08, and again with Davis and Smith the following year. I see him spending 2 of our picks in Rds 2-3 at WR.

Wake me up next Tuesday at 4 pm cause I can't take much more of this I'm going crazy

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