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Annual free agency lull comes to the Dolphins

The Dolphins have moved onto the next step of their offseason plan and that means free agency is on hold, barring an unexpected opportunity, until after the NFL draft.

That's the message I'm getting from multiple team personnel who texted Wednesday afternoon. I asked if the club that hasn't had a free agent visit in nearly a week might be done for a while and the responses were similar across the board.

"That's probably accurate although we never say never," one team official responded.

"Unless something falls off a tree," another team official said.

"What's left worth signing anyway?" one more smart-alecky team person said.

(Just kidding dude, love you.)

Here's the deal:

The Dolphins have signed eight unrestricted free agents and have plenty of salary cap room to sign more if they wish. According to NFLPA figures released Wednesday evening the Dolphins have $8,263,667 in cap space available. That includes all their transactions through Wednesday.

And, you must remember, the Dolphins will get a $10.4 million cap savings after June 1 when the releases of both Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett are figured onto the cap.

So that means the Dolphins could use their entire $8.2 million in current space and have enough after June 1 to sign all their draft picks, add priority free agents after the draft, add a practice squad and also have enough for an emergency stash for the regular season.

This truly is good cap work so far by GM Jeff Ireland and Executive VP of football administration Dawn Aponte.

Nonetheless, the Dolphins aren't likely to spend that entire $8 million because, well, the up-value portion of free agency is done, the bargain hunting part of free agency is donel, and now what remains is the fill holes part of free agency that typically comes after the draft.

In case you're wondering what fill holes free agency means, its when teams take inventory after the draft and if they feel they failed to meet a need in the draft, they fill that need with an available veteran. That is usually a cheap signing.

There is, however, as you read above a caveat to the free agency silence you'll hear from the Dolphins until after the draft:

If a veteran Miami covets suddenly gets cut by another team before the draft, then free agency can kick back on. If a veteran, such as Eric Winston, suddenly has an epiphany and decides he'll play very, very cheaply for the Dolphins instead of waiting for someone to offer him better money, then Miami's interest might be rekindled.

The Dolphins' interest in Winston has otherwise waned somewhat.

[Update: The Falcons are releasing RT Tyson Clabo today, per his agent. Perhaps that is a possibility. Sounds like someone falling off a tree to me.]

The personnel department and coaching staff are grinding on draft eligible players. That's the front-burner issue now. Free agency?

Not so much. 

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