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Free agency issues first entree on Hickey plate

These are fascinating times to be a Dolphins observer. (Maybe not so fascinating to be a fan because you find yourself cringing a lot, but you get the drift). The team is starting anew, at least with a new general manager. And that GM, Dennis Hickey, has to hit the ground running because the free agency period begins in earnest March 11.

(Teams will be allowed to enter into negotiations with the agents for pending unrestricted free agents on March 8 but contracts cannot be signed until 4 p.m. on March 11).

So by that time, Hickey needs to have his Ps and Qs straight on what Dolphins pending UFAs he wants to keep and which he'll let enter the market.

It's a big decision because the Dolphins have 18 players out of contract for 2014. Of those 11 are UFAs. And of those, seven were starters.


The eight starters?

Cornerback Brent Grimes, cornerback Nolan Carroll, safety Chris Clemons, defensive tackle Randy Starks, defensive tackle Paul Soliai, right tackle Tyson Clabo, right guard John Jerry and left tackle Bryant McKinnie.

You can argue that both Soliai and Starks are not starters because Jared Odrick was in the mix for multiple games, but I think anyone would agree Soliai and Starks are starter caliber. Also, tight end Dustin keller, an UFA for 2014, was a starter when he blew out a knee in the preseason but I'm not counting him as a starter because he obviously did not fill that spot in 2013. Also, Richie Incognito, another 2014 UFA, was a starter for much of last season but was suspended thus is not considered a starter here. He will not return to the Dolphins by order of owner Stephen Ross.

Welcome to the Dolphins, Dennis! Your entire starting offensive line save center Mike Pouncey is hitting free agency. Three quarters of your starting defensive backfield is also hitting free agency.

Handle it.

Oh, and while you're at it, two outstanding starting-caliber defensive tackles are possibly hitting free agency. You almost definitely cannot sign both because, well, that would require a huge salary cap commitment. Neither are going to come cheap because aside form being good, marketable players who'll be in demand, both Starks and Soliai went through 2013 somewhat peeved they didn't get a contract extension. So they're not going to give the Dolphins a huge discount -- certainly Starks is not. Soliai may come cheaper because he loves South Florida and really, really doesn't want to leave.
But his agent, David Canter, will try to make it as hard as possible for Soliai to accept a hometown discount by drumming up as much interest for his client as he can because, well, he also was peeved an extension wasn't done in 2013.

And then there's the issue of Brent Grimes. He's not only a starting cornerback but your best starting cornerback. He went to the Pro Bowl. He loves South Florida. But he also is not going to accept the $5 million per year deal he took on a prove-it basis in 2013.

Grimes stayed healthy and played well after missing all of 2012 with an Achilles' injury. So now he wants to get paid.

The problem is Grimes will be 31 in July and most teams do not offer four- or five-year deals to corners on the long side of 30. Are you going to do that with Grimes?

What's that, you say? Franchise tag?

That might be your only recourse. It would lock up Grimes for another year while the Dolphins young cornerbacks (Jamar Taylor and Will Davis) either prove they have it or don't have it. But it's going to cost.

The 2013 franchise tag for a cornerback was $10.6 million. That's quite a chunk. Yes, the Dolphins will approximately $35 million in salary cap room if you include the carryover. But are you ready to use roughly one-third of that room on one player?

We're sure you'll figure it out.

Miami's unrestricted free agents

DT Randy Starks

DT Paul Soliai

CB Brent Grimes

CB Nolan Carroll

G Richie Incognito

TE Dustin Keller

RT Tyson Clabo

FS Chris Clemons

G John Jerry

LT Bryant Mckinnie

LB Austin Spitler

WR Marlon Moore

Miami's restricted free agents

CB R.J Stanford

G Danny Watkins

OT Will Yeatman

QB Pat Devlin

Miami's exclusive rights free agents

WR Armon Binns

LB Jonathan Freeny





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Thanks for catching up to what we all knew all season. This team will be WORSE than it was last season

Grimes conundrum is easily fixed. Give him a four year deal that is essentially a three year deal with the fourth unguranteed.

Screw the o line free agents - Sign Albert and Asamoah instead. KC is up against the cap, poach em.

Sign Soliai.

Keep the players that want to be here. Starks can exit stage left....

Come on Marc, all tehse free agents is reason for optimism, not pessimism.. Soliai, Starks, Clabo, McKinnie have all seen their best days. Even so, I bring Big Paul back as he has his heart into it down here and stil has reasonable skill.

And you really going to cry about Caroll/Clemons?

You would only sign Grimes and Soliai?

You act like the entire league isn't part of free agency. A bird in the hand

No way this team fill all it's holes this offseason. Not happening

This assumes that any one of these guys is delusional enough to want to be here. With the possible exception of Soliai, if the Fins want these guys (the ones that are wanted by other teams, anyway) they will have to grossly overpay. Good luck Mr. Hickey. The Cspologist you work for who works for you will have to work some magic.

I will cry when we have NO REPLACEMENT for either! Clemons has been solid, but unspectacular, Caroll improved greatly

Starks is not easily replaced! He's upset because Jeff dogged him out. He might be willing to work with the new GM

I love how fans like to speak for players,by saying dumb crap like. He doesnt want to play here,just because dur be berr boo boop! tards

I would resign Soliai, Grimes, Keller (1 yr 2 mill), McKinnie, Spitler, Watkins, Binns, & maybe Freeny (SP player).

You have to let your young guys play, so FA CB's can go. Starks will be to expensive and I really believe he is overrated anyway.

I agree with Mark in Toronto - Go get Albert, but I would LOVE Miami to sgn Mack and move Poucey to LG.

Hickey = Biggest Loser

Check your fourth paragraph Mandy...

"Of those 11 are UFAs. And of those, seven were starters.


The eight starters?"

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | January 30, 2014 at 01:39 PM

Hey Mark. Thought you didn't want to talk to me anymore my friend. Im choking on my pasta here, badda bing !!! Its ok. We have agreed to disagree, Im on to the running game now. I want us to draft Carlos Hyde and go after Tate.

Mark, you generally have the right idea. 4 years 32 mil for Grimes with 16 mil guaranteed should do the job.

I bet Big Paul will be back at a fair deal for both teams.

Starks is good, but he can take a discount or take a walk if he doesn't want to be here.

To the people saying no one will come here. The team has plenty of cap space, no state income tax, and south beach. Pay them and they will come.


The toughest decision is which to keep Soleai or Starks.
After that you HAVE to keep Grimes. I would try to keep both Carroll and Clemmons. (BUT i can't see neither commanding BIG $ in free agency) After that most of our un-restricted free agents will still be looking for contracts come May-June, so if we want them back it should not cost too much.

Posted by: dolfan29 | January 30, 2014 at 01:41 PM

I hear you, but Ross did put some heat on Philbin to fire his old buddy. Philbin got Lazor, Im actually pleased with that one and I hope he can bring some of the Eagles success to this team.

If the D is as bad as last year, then Ross will be on Philbin for that at the end of the year. I worry that during the season Hickey won't do much to put pressure on Philbin to make changes. Thats why Iam saying Philbin is the main man now, with no Ireland in his way he has to come through this season. So far he has at least got Lazor.

Here's the feat, we can't overhaul EVERYWHERE (even with a lot of CAP space). I'd like to say bye to Carroll and Clemons, but that means restocking in FA (unless they can find a gem in the Draft). Also, sounds like Dimitri's still has some years on his contract, so a decision has to be made with him (can he stay healthy for more than a game?).

OL is a must, a priority. RB is another priority (but we can get someone good and cheap in the Draft). Next in line should be the LBs (though that might be what gets left until next year).

Do they have enough to go get Byrd? If so, let Clemons walk and get that kid (but he's a ProBowler, won't be cheap).

Not an easy call, we'll get to see right away what kind of stones this GM has. And also what kind of magic Aponte can pull off with the contracts.

I love how fans like to speak for players,by saying dumb crap like. He doesnt want to play here,just because dur be berr boo boop! tards
Posted by: Rdubs | January 30, 2014 at 01:51 PM

So, you're speaking for the players by saying the wang to be here?

I can tell you that if I were a professional, player or coach or admin, I wouldn't touch this apparent sh$tshow with a ten foot pole.


I've been saying this all season. Not an enviable position for any GM to be in. Much less a newbie. I wish him the best of luck.

Philbin is to blame if this team fails again next year. He hired all the coordinators and staff. I have faith in the guy even though a few times I was scratching my head last year. I hope he and Coyle improve and Lazor brings some new life to the offense.

Posted by: DC Dolfan | January 30, 2014 at 01:55 PM

I know, but RB is the biggest problem next to O line. To run LazorBall we need to have a couple of beasts back there. Remember RnR. Thill never got to play in those days, he would have loved it and had an even higher rating.

They're all bums except Grimes. Let them all walk. If I could count all the times I've wanted to punch a wall because of a missed play in coverage because of Nolan GD Carroll I imagine I would not have any knuckles left. Overrated run defense, giving up 203 yards to Buffalo and 154 to the Jets in the final two weeks, screw Starks maybe keep Soliai. Don't get me started on the pathetic OL, later fatboy John Jerry, Bryant McKennie??? Please every time I'd look up I'd see a DE flying around him hurrying Tannehill into an errant throw.

UFA's to keep and in order of priority: Grimes, Soliai, keller, mckinnie, moore. Now let's move on shall we!


sure the D line wasn't too good against the run, but the LB's were much worse as a unit. Wheeler was the bust of the year, Ellerbe wasn't too far behind him. We will have to go to the draft in the 4th 5th to get some help here, as we have the O line, RB and FS to fix.

Mckinnie can go, we cant have him over on the left side. We need to go B.Albert or draft. Mckinnie is basically done. I think Keller should go as well, lots of good TE's coming out this year

Too bad Taylor and Davis were not able (either injury or lack of playing time) to show much last year. So having said that, keep Grimes and Solai. Everyone else is replaceable. None of the DB's have shown they can take it to the next level. So should be easily filled by others. Look for FA's who came from good teams, but didn't see playing time because of the people ahead of them. At least they will come in with a sense of how to do it right. Coyle needs to up his game or he will be gone by the end of next year. I am sure he knows that.

AMCDAVE good post

Marco, I agree (on RB). But we don't need to go the FA route (unless we're going after Moreno). I think there are plenty of good backs coming out, and RBs are no longer 1st round commodities, so they will be there in the later rounds if we choose to go that route. Or we get our OL tackles in FA and fill out the guards in rounds 1-3 (with RB in there somewhere to get one of the better ones coming out).

My point is you don't need to spend big to get a good RB (unless his name is Adrian Peterson). The Redskins found one in the 6th round and he's in the Top 5 in the league.

Posted by: Rdubs | January 30, 2014 at 02:13 PM

Keller may well come cheap and there is no guarantee Hickey will find TE talent. We have a solid group already and Campbell is probably the best coach we have here.

You guys are funny. You expect to replace AT LEAST 6 starters with FA and the draft?



Let's not forget they REALLY need to upgrade RB, TE, FB, MLB, OLB

And they still need to find a franchise QB

Yeah, sure, let them all walk. We can be the new expansion Dolphins

I'm not even sure Keller will be able to play pro football again after that hit to his knee. I might sign him to close to a minimum salary deal, but thats about it.

Albert, Monroe, or Veldheer at left tackle would all be good signings imo.

Basically they need to overhaul half of the starters on both sides of the ball

Odds aren't favorable

1) Resign absolutely: Grimes & Soliai (one of them likely with franchise tag)

2) Resign only at the right price: Carroll (backup rate), Keller (one year show me deal), Clemons & Jerry (both at low end starter rate), Stanford & Moore (developmental players)

3) The other can go.

Marc, we might as well have some fun trying to think about how we would fix things or improve them the best we can.

There's a chance they could stink. They could exceed expectations though. Thats why people play and watch the games as they say.

Tag Grimes
Re-sign Soliai
Re-sign Clemons
Re-sign Carroll
Cut Wheeler post June 1st
Cut Patterson
Cut Moore
2 FA Olinemen

Bring on the draft...this offseason is not that hard.


We have a franchise QB. Case closed. next topic...

Good idea Nick. That still leaves about 5 starters out

IMO, depth's as important as starting position. Things happen over the course of a season. So at the same time it's "critically important" to stay prepared. Therefore:

Carroll and Clemons are critical resigns, though many of you would argue against it.

Starks and Soliai are a "coin flip". The great debate is that "pros and cons" exists with both. Even down to the defensive system employed. Both are valuable to lose, but neither are can not do without. At least, that what our 2013 run defense states.

Then there's Brent Grimes, easily spectacular fa on the entire roster. But my greatest fear is does Grimes really want to remain a Dolphin? Especially seeing our bungled gm hire attempt.

Even if signed, I see him remaining a Dolphin for 2 more seasons at most. That's in anticipation Tannehill makes great strides coming into his contract year(2yrs). If he does, he'll demand a HUGE pay day.

Grimes would be 33yrs old by then, and greatest candidate for "cap casualty" when Tannehill's great pay day begins. So, even if sign and not franchised, I still see Grimes remaining a Dolphin lasting no more than 2 more seasons.

Tag John Jerry

Frank in PA has a franchise QB. I don't know who, but Hickey might need to get on the phone with him

Article on how the dulphins are going to draft BPA instead of needs. Resign Grimes or tag him whatever, soliai or starks which ever is cheaper and let the rest walk. Replace them in fa.

Fact is that they will be forced to re-sign many of the players that aren't great, because you just can't expect to fill so many holes in one offseason. Especially not the way this team has drafted.

Yep, I only sign Grimes, Soliai. I keep patterson to play the other corner spot and know that Jamar Taylor and Will Davis and JImmy Wilson gives me good depth.

I keep Solia and Odrick to start, I sign a depth guy like McDaniel to provide quality rotation.

O line I go hunting outside and sign two guys and get another in either round one or two depending on how the draft falls.

You do not cut Patterson or Wheeler until camp competition ends.

Dion Jordan should be given shot at Wheeeler's olb spot, and if he can not overtake Wheeler, then Houston we have a HUGE problem.

Last year's defensive draft rookies need to be able to run these guys out of town. If not, we can be able to look at this defensive class(2013) as our newest of our very own "shrinking violets".

Anybody see the quality TEs coming on the market, I wouldn't be in too big a hurry to sign Keller...

1. Jimmy Graham
2. Dennis Pitta
3. Jermichael Finley
4. Brandon Pettigrew
5. Garrett Graham
6. Brandon Myers
7. Fred Davis
8. Dustin Keller
9. Scott Chandler
10. Andrew Quarless

Anyone not familiar with Garrett Graham should read up on him. Chandler is another one who looks slow but the dam guy is always open down the seam.

Rather than fire back at Sherman, Manning embraced it with open arms.

"I believe it to be true," Manning said to the chuckle of the crowd. "He's a smart player. I don't think that's a real reach what he's saying there. I do throw ducks. I throw a lot of yards and touchdowns (on) ducks, so I'm actually quite proud of it."

That's pretty funny


We have a franchise QB. Case closed. next topic...

Posted by: Frank from PA | January 30, 2014 at 02:26 PM
Ghey ?

I don't think we need an upgrade to Clay. He almost set a franchise record. I think they need a true TE that can block. What Simms should have been.

Ixnay Finley (his family is trying to get him to retire). Ditto Davis (he's going to be suspended first 6 games for failing his 2nd drug test, he's a dimwit). Graham is probably the best of that group (Garrett, I doubt Jimmy's getting let go). Chandler's a nobody to me (he's inconsistent, has many games where he's a ghost). Either Keller for cheap, Graham or find your guy in the Draft.

1 of 3 (Solia, Starks or Grimes)must be signed. Another franchised.

Offer all 3 reasonable contracts. The first to bite sign. Franchise the next and wish the other all the best.

MIT, Keller's the 2nd best TE on your list. Are youfucking kidding? Saints will FRANCHISE Graham if they can not get him signed. Dream on about that one.

It can be argue and hotly debated Charles Clay makes it pointless to go after anyone on your list. Keller can be resigned under the same 1yr provisions as last year. Keller and Clay could make a helluvah TE combo in Miami should he successfully come back from knee injury.

And you know it's FAR TOO EARLY to say that he can not.

I don't care if most on the list hit the road. Losing Randy Starks and Richie Incog will more than account for the cash for Grimes. So, that is a wash.

Resign DT Paul Soliai to a 3 yr contract accounting for about 7 mil/yr. Leaves 28 mil.

See ya CB Nolan Carroll. This guy has peaked and that is not good enough. We have to develop one of the younger guys. Frees up another mil - 29 mil

See ya TE Dustin Keller - frees another 4 nil giving us 33 mil in cap space

see ya RT Tyson Clabo - frees 3.5 mil. leaving 37 mil in cap space

FS Chris Clemons - resign 3 yrs at 3 mil/yr leaves 34 mil

see ya G John Jerry - frees another mil or so - 35 mil

LT Bryant Mckinnie - try to resign cheap - 1yr 3mil - 32 mil

LB Austin Spitler - good special teams - resign 750,000/yr - 31 mil

see ya WR Marlon Moore - leaves around 33 mil

CB R.J Stanford - sign cheap 700,000 - 32 mil

see ya G Danny Watkins - free half mil

sign cheap OT Will Yeatman - 700,000

QB Pat Devlin - resign as backup - 1 mil leaves 31 mil

Matt Moore - see frees up 4 mil.

Phins should have around 35 mil when all said and done to go out and fill some real needs.

Don't see an issue here.

Marc, I tend to agree. Scott Chandler is an interesting case. Guy is a monster size wise and has good hands. Would be the ideal compliment to Clay IMO. Don't think the demand would be too high for him either.

I wouldn't bother signing a free agent tight end to go with Clay. The money can be better spent elsewhere imo. I would draft Ebron if he is there at 19 or select a TE in later rounds if possible.

Hickey is going to hit on some picks and a couple members of Ireland's 2012 class are going to have to step up.

Brandon Myers is also a good talent.

Chandler is 6'7, 260, put up 655 yards and 2 tds with that clown show at Qb last year (i know trolls, they beat us twice with those clowns - there I saved you the effort)

Keller is on one leg, will probably never be the same. I think this guy can be a nice compliment ot what we have but I'm not exactly going to break the bank for it either.

Daytona, why you so upset? Who said anything about Jimmy Graham, take a look at the entire list and get to knwo these guys. Keller would've been the 2nd best on that list in 2011, it's now 2014.

Dont you hate it when a co-worker threatens to ejaculate in your face and you are too hungry to slam down your lunch tray?

You guys are over-thinking this.
Just because your a starter in Miami does not mean you would start anywhere else. Here' my arm chair GM moves:

DT Randy Starks - release

DT Paul Soliai - Keep

CB Brent Grimes -keep

CB Nolan Carroll - release

G Richie Incognito - cut

TE Dustin Keller - release

RT Tyson Clabo - keep

FS Chris Clemons - release

G John Jerry - release

LT Bryant Mckinnie - keep

LB Austin Spitler - keep

WR Marlon Moore - release

I'd also cut/trade D. Thomas and aggressively pursue Hyde from Ohio State in the Draft

I hope Hickey takes a look at CB Justin Gilbert from OSU. He's probably the best CB in this years draft and to top it off the guy takes it to the house on kick off returns.

I 100% doubt it would happen, but, if we signed could sign Branden Albert. I would not cry at all if Hickey traded back a little and used the first round pick on Carlos Hyde.

Hyde potentially gives the offense a beast mode and closer element to it.

Then end the Daniel Thomas experiment gone awry, but, keep Miller to see if e could develop into the "LIGHTNING" to go with our newfound "THUNDER". Which would be Carlos Hyde.

Is Keller even going to play again?

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