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4 posts from March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014

Dolphins cut Patterson, add Delmas, save cap space

One move has seemingly been coming for two years and the other for two weeks. Both arrived today.

The Dolphins cut oft-injured cornerback Dimitri Patterson and in so doing save $5.4 million of cap space for 2014. There is no dead money involved in cutting Patterson as he was in the final year of his contract.

Patterson started only four games for the Dolphins in 2013 and was plagued by a groin injury throughout the year.

The club also today signed safety Louis Delmas to a one-year deal worth a maximum of $3.5 million, according to a league source. Delmas, a Miami native, was cut two weeks ago by the Detroit Lions and visted the Dolphins soon thereafter.

The Delmas deal is a prove it contract because while he is a solid player, he's struggled to stay healthy much of the past two seasons. Delmas rarely practiced for the Lions last year and missed 13 games from 2011-12.

What does this mean?

Well, forget the Jairus Byrd rumors. And Chris Clemons isn't coming back to the Dolphins.

And think more about CB needs for the Dolphins because combined with the fact Nolan Carroll, who started 12 games at cornerback, is getting strong feelers from other teams in free agency, cutting Patterson it means the Dolphins are  probably still in the market for a cornerback.

Unrestricted free agency begins at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

So possibilities?

The cornerback market is not exactly teeming with great possibilities.

Aqib Talib is out there. He wants a big payday. And he obviously has a history with Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey in that he was drafted by and played for Tampa Bay.

But that also means Hickey should know Talib is something of a ticking time bomb -- with injury issues and off-field issues in his past.

San Francisco's Tarell Brown and Oakland's Tracy Porter might be cheap options on the secondary free agent market.

Dominque Rodger-Cromartie is expected to be available, although the Broncos are said to want him back. DR-C is nothing if not inconsitent -- sometimes great, sometimes barely average.

The Jets today dumped Antonio Cromratie so he's out there as well.

There's also this: The Tampa Bay Bucs supposedly might be interested in trading Darrelle Revis. This is all speculation. Media have discussed the possibility but no one has actually reported this as fact.

If that's the case, it bears mentioning that Hickey was in Tampa Bay when the Bucs traded for Revis.

The problems?

Revis would be dangled in trade. And that means giving up compensation for him. And it also means accepting the $16 million cap number Revis is expected to have this season.

Honestly, those are both problems but not the biggest problem for the Dolphins. I'm sure they would not simply give up high-round picks. And as you just read, they just gained $5.4 million and have approximately $38 million in salary cap space.

But Revis doesn't seem like a system fit. He's a press man cornerback. The Dolphins are an off-man team.

 

Free agent offensive line possibilties narrow

Forget Rodger Saffold. Forget Chad Rinehart.

Two Dolphins free agent offensive line possibilities are not headed to Miami.

Saffold, who the Dolphins contacted over the weekend, had been on the team's radar as a backup left tackle possibility had the Branden Albert chase not worked out. But as I've reported today, Albert to the Dolphins is almost done.

The Dolphins liked Saffold enough that there was thought he might come anyway -- as a guard or perhaps a right tackle.

Nope.

Saffold is going to get left tackle money and that means he's not coming to Miami at all, according to a source. Saffold is likely to land in Oakland.

That's that.

Rinhart, a guard with the San Diego Chargers, is staying in San Diego. The Chargers announced minutes ago they have re-signed Rinehart so he will not be hitting the market.

The Dolphins continue looking at guard and right tackle possibilities.

As discussed in this space on Saturday, the best right tackle possibilities are Zach Strief of New Orleans and Austin Howard of the New York Jets.

The guard possibilities?

Do not dismiss Davin Joseph, cut by the Bucs last week -- because of his ties for Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey.

 

Source: Albert deal 'almost' done

Not that this is breaking news, but Branden Albert will be a Miami Dolphin.

The offensive left tackle's representatives have been talking to the Dolphins for a while now and a deal between the sides is "almost" done, a source tells me.

So when the unrestricted free agency period begins tomorrow at 4 p.m. (eastern) the Dolphins and Albert's camp will likely put a cherry on top of the deal, there will be a physical at some point as Albert lives in Miami, and we'll soon be off and running with a signing in free agency.

Interestingly, the Dolphins' study of unrestricted free agency did not lead them to Eugene Monroe as their No. 1 target at left tackle ... and it did not lead them to Eugene Monroe as their No. 2 target at left tackle, either.

I have zero idea why.

Interestingly, (again), the injury concerns the Dolphins had on Albert last season when they were considering trading for him seem to have faded.

You will remember one reason the trade for Albert never materialized is because then Miami general manager Jeff Ireland wanted Albert to take a physical before he committed to trading for him. But the Chiefs declined to let the Dolphins administer the physical.

Well, Albert has not taken a physical with the Dolphins and the team is going full steam ahead on this negotiation. And, it must be pointed out, Albert missed a couple of games with a hyper-extended knee last season and also worked through some shoulder problems.

The previous year he had to overcome knee and back problems.

Yes, Albert will have to take and pass a physical with the Dolphins before his contract becomes effective. That will likely happen Tuesday or Wednesday.

Watch for fibs, Albert and ... Jairus Byrd?

Today is the final day of official contact-but-no-contract courtship between NFL teams and representatives for players. Starting tomorrow, it becomes serious. Starting tomorrow at 4 p.m., players are able to sign with new teams.

The past few days?

The agent wild west.

As most NFL teams don't tell the media anything (rightfully so) about their plans for signing other teams' players at the opening of free agency, all the information is coming from agents. And some of that is misinformation.

"Love my agent counterparts for putting out such an awesome account of misinformation re: players, team interests, and team free agent activity," agent C.J. LaBay of Relativity Sports, tweeted on Sunday evening.

He's right. Many agents want to create buzz for their clients because buzz can raise the price on players. So a player who has talked to one team other than his own can be said to be "talking to multiple teams showing serious interest, according to a source."

And, of course, the teams are not identified. And the agent doesn't have to put his name behind the information.

And the media (me) publishes it because teams don't typically confirm or deny the information and thus do not correct the record whenever such information is only tangential to the truth.

Yes, there are many upright, honest and professional agents who deal straight with the media. Not everyone works the same. But to suggest the scenario I just shared with you never plays out excludes the whole truth from what's happening through today.

So as with free agency for teams, buyer beware with the information out there.

That said:

There is some information about the Dolphins market that merits consideration as Tuesday draws nearer.

1. The Dolphins interest in Eugene Monroe was cooler than expected. Yes, they showed interest over the weekend but it was not the full-on courting of the player many believed would be the hottest LT talent available.

Apparently, teams were lukewarm on Monroe for some reason -- maybe they didn't like his price tag that was married to his uneven play in 2013 and lack of overpowering physical presence.

2. Branden Albert was apparently the hottest commodity expected to come available. A handful of teams had him as the best LT about to hit the market and the Dolphins are one of those teams. Perhaps it is price point, a more even ability to run as well as pass block ... I don't know. Obviously it is not his age (29) vs. Monroe (26).

3. The Dolphins believe they are going to get Albert. Does that mean a deal is done? No. Does that mean one will get done 100 percent? No. But is it likely? Yes. And the talk on the annual average salary is between $9-$10 million per season.

4. The Dolphins were also interested in Jared Veldheer as something of a backup option at LT. And his price tag is expected to be between $7-$8 million per season.

5. The Dolphins are doing work at the safety position. Agent Drew Rosenhaus said on WSVN's Sunday night sports show in Miami that he and the Dolphins have talked about a contract for free agent Louis Delmas. Meanwhile, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Sunday evening that the Dolphins are "showing real interest" in Jairus Byrd of the Buffalo Bills.

That's interesting if true because Byrd is expecting a contract that averages between $8-$9 million per season. Let me repeat: Jairus Byrd wants a contract that would pay about $36 million over four years and that would include between $16-$18 million in guaranteed money.

So are the Dolphins serious about that?

I remind you that last year the Dolphins signed Reshad Jones to a four-year extension worth $29.36 million with $15 million in guaranteed money. They are not cutting Jones because that would mean approximately $13 million in dead money.

So the Dolphins are going to have a starting safety duo that represents approximately $16 million in average annual salary? They're going to tie up eight percent of the $133 million cap on two players, neither of which scores touchdowns for a living?

And in the meantime, they've got questions about who starts at cornerback opposite Brent Grimes?

Look, I love Jairus Byrd as a player. As I've written, the man is a turnover machine. He averages one turnover every two games. And then I found out what his asking price is.

And it gave me pause.

Adding Byrd makes a ton of sense when you're not already paying big bucks at the other safety spot. He's a big luxury.

Very big.