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Blame past decisions, philosophy for lack of splash in Fins free agency;plus UM;Heat

FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN

One question we’ve heard a lot about the Dolphins: How can a team that’s so mediocre and dumped its top playmaker (Brandon Marshall) not have the cap space - or try to create it - to make competitive bids for Eric Winston, Vincent Jackson, Mario Williams or any other free agent who was an impact 2011 starter for another team?

The Dolphins entered the first day of free agency with $9 million in space before the Marshall deal; only 10 teams had less and the Broncos ($43 million), Patriots, 49ers and Ravens all had more. Now they have about $7 million after several signings and dumping Marshall and Yeremiah Bell, but much will be needed to sign draft picks and most of the top free agents are gone anyway.

So why didn’t Miami do more in free agency or create the cap space to do more? One reason is that Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin want to build primarily through the draft. Philbin explained this to former players, but nobody bothered telling the fans, which led to this huge letdown. But there were other factors that led to Miami not signing any definite starter except Paul Soliai. Among them:

### Even though the Marshall deal left $15 million in space, the Dolphins used most of it on Soliai, a solid No. 3 cornerback (Richard Marshall), Lydon Murtha, Phillip Merling, David Garrard and backups Jamaal Westerman and Artis Hicks, instead of signing fewer players but using a larger chunk on, say, Jackson or Winston or Matt Flynn or Laurent Robinson or John Abraham or Kamerion Wimbley. Miami believes that was the smarter approach and perhaps it will prove to be; only time will tell.

### Among many reasons the Dolphins don’t have more space is their cap is clogged by $13 million in dead money to players who aren’t even on the team and more than $8 million for offensive linemen who are backup types, two of whom might start out of necessity.

That includes linemen Murtha ($1.9 million hit, Nate Garner ($1.6), Hicks ($1.5) and Ryan Cook ($1.13). Heck, Will Barker and Ray Feinga combine for another $1.1 million hit.

Because of proration of bonuses, the Dolphins are taking a $5.5 million cap hit for Marshall, $4.8 million for unsigned Vernon Carey, $1.85 million for Bell and a combined $838,000 for Tim Dobbins and A.J. Edds.

### The top 51 salaries count against the cap, and Miami’s 11 players with the highest cap numbers account for $68 million of the $129 million they have to allocate.

Two of those, Marshall and Bell, aren’t on the team. Another, Tony McDaniel, is a backup with a $4.2 million hit. Karlos Dansby ($11.3 million) and Kevin Burnett ($5.3) are good players, but that’s a big hit for two inside linebackers.

No surprise: Miami is allocating by far its most cap space to the offensive line ($28 million). Remember: Cap hits are usually higher than salaries because of bonus proration.

### Jake Long ($12.8 million cap), Reggie Bush ($6 million) and Randy Starks ($5 million) are all entering the final year of their contracts. If Miami had extended any before free agency, their cap hits could have been lowered to give Miami more money to spend in free agency or less need to cut Bell. Regettably, that did not happen, though Miami wants to keep all long-term.

CHATTER

CBS analyst and 2002 NFL MVP Rich Gannon, who has watched Flynn closely as the Packers’ preseason TV analyst, made a case, off the air, for why Miami messed up by not offering more to get Flynn, who reportedly got three years and $19 million (plus $5 million in incentives) from Seattle:

“Comparing Flynn to David Garrard (who got one-year, $3.35 million), it’s not even close,” Gannon said, believing Garrard isn’t a clear upgrade over Matt Moore. “If I’m Joe Philbin, who is better to help me install my system than a guy who has been in it for four years? If you have a guy that knows the system like Flynn, you are so much further along. Just pay the guy a few extra million. What Seattle paid is fair. Why wouldn’t Miami do that deal? This is insane. The guys in Seattle did a much better job recruiting him.”

Plus, as Gannon noted, Flynn has the skill set for the West Coast offense. Gannon said Seattle called Gannon, Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers (who predicts Flynn will be a top-15 starter) and others in determining Flynn’s value and concluded he was worth that type of money. But Philbin, Flynn’s former offensive coordinator, did not ask Ireland to offer that type of money.

As for Garrard, “He has a ways to go, which is unusual for a guy with as many starts as he has,” Gannon said.

Gannon raises this broader question: “Who is the guy evaluating the quarterback talent in that building? Joe Philbin has an offensive line background; he was the protection and run game guy in Green Bay. You better have someone who knows how to evaluate that position.” He said Miami is now the AFC East’s fourth-best team.

### Alex Smith, who re-signed with the 49ers, implied to Bay Area writers he never seriously considered Miami and visited the Dolphins because “I had never been to Miami Beach and thought it was a good way to see it.” Lovely.... Drew Rosenhaus told WQAM's Joe Rose that "maybe there's a chance [Yeremiah Bell] will come back to the Dolphins," but that there is interest in him elsewhere in the wake of Miami releasing him Tuesday.

### Whereas the Dolphins lack a marquee free-agent recruiter (Dan Marino doesn’t want to be), we got another reminder this week of Pat Riley’s prowess in that area. After his first Heat practice Thursday, Ronnie Turiaf – who picked Miami over several teams – spoke of how meaningful it was to get a call from Riley before he made a decision.

“I told him he didn’t need to call me, but for him to do that was something valuable,” Turiaf said. “He told me he really liked me from the draft, said the Heat is a family environment, that he sees me as a Heat type of player. We had a really good talk that went beyond basketball. I told him I was crushed when they picked” his friend, Wayne Simien, ahead of him 29th in the 2005 draft.... Still no timetable for a return from Mike Miller, who will miss at least the next three games with an ankle injury.

### UM's Ryan Williams is leaner and has demonstrated better mobility this spring. One example: During Thursday's spring practice, he threw a nifty touchdown pass to Kendal Thompkins on the run. Eduardo Clements is going to be a huge weapon in the passing game - he took a short pass for a 25-yard gain in Thursday's session. Linebacker Eddie Johnson is among the young defenders turning heads.

### Wade LeBlanc is the favorite for one of two open Marlins' bullpen jobs, with Jose Ceda and Steve Cishek battling for the other and Chad Gaudin making a case.

 

 

Comments

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ccotown13

The Dolphins are heading for worse conditions as long-time fans are turning genuinely angry with many of them stating that they either are really starting to dislike and even hate the team. the Occupy Davie incident was small but very symbolic. Mr. Ross needs to get a handle on this organization and admit there are very serious image problems that need to addressed. Perception is a very powerful influence.

DAVE

Bottom line, the Dolphins are a pitiful organization and also will be, as long as Ross and Ireland are involved. I choose to do something about it. I spend no money on this team.

George S

What an Ahole move by Smith...Just visiting South Florida? Now maybe some of you realize why GM's and front offices sometimes treat these atheletes as items; because they frequently treat the front office and GM the exact same way.

And people really need the Dolphins to play before they jump to conclusions. Sure, they aren't a sexy team and didn't make sexy moves, but the Eagles made all the sexy moves last season and weren't in the playoffs.

Lee

Barry, at least you're the only one who has tried to explain the cap situation as opposed to those cheerleaders over at the Sun Sentinel. but what i dont understand is why Ireland didnt tell Ross that there was no way they could obtain Peyton Manning due to the cap restrictions?

FormFactor

Easy enough to answer two of those questions/points:

Mike Sherman, who coached Brett Favre, would be able to evaluate QB's. Not that it matters because Philbin also was Green Bay's OC. I find it extremely difficult to believe he was responsible *only* for run packages and that Mike McCarthy was responsible for the passing game.
Using Gannon's logic, if Philbin can't evaluate QB's because he take care of run packages then McCarthy shouldn't be able to evaluate running back because he took care of passing plays. Does that make any sense?

Gannon also makes the same baffling mistake others do in comparing Flynn to Garrard. But Flynn shouldn't be compared to Garrard. Flynn should be compared to the rookie QB they're going to draft, not Garrard who will compete for the starting job while the rookie sits on the bench and learns the offense.

FormFactor

Jackson raises an important issue: the lack of salary cap space. As bad as that may be it debunks the silly rumor that the Fins don't like to spend money.

Rumor mongers can't have it both ways. The Fins can't be both cheap AND close to cap limits. Those are contradictory propositions.

JoeMama

Barry Jackson is the best sport reporter in Miami

TinSouthMiami

So the ustification for getting rid of Marshall was basically so we could use most of the money to sifn
Soliai?

Got it.

DeezNutz

CCOTOWN13 .... you hit it right on the head ! Personally I'm from Jersey, I grew up just 15 minutes away from old Giants Stadium and I'v ebeen a fan of the Giants since 85. I've supported the Dolphins because they are the "hometeam" and how can you live in a an area and not support the hometeam ?!

My favorite NFL teams:

1. NY Giants
2. Mia Dolphins
3. Pitt Steelers

But after all this chaos, ... I have to admit, that I probrobly wont watch any more Dolphin games, this up comming year. For what ?! To see them lose ?! To raise my blood pressure ?! They have done EVERYTHING wrong and I blame the press, and local media for putting so much pressure and criticism on this team and for BRAIN WASHING the locals in being so impatiently demanding. Now, I see the REAL reason why Parcells wanted nothing to do with this club after his 2nd year in command. This town is DYSFUNCTIONAL in EVERY area but above all, I blame all the so called "know it all's", in the a.m. radio, and the local so called "sports writters", that has proven to me repeatedly, how little they really know about this game. All these reporters and radio sports "guru's" do; is play "monday morning quarterback". Well, here is the miserable result of it, your 2012 Miami Dolphins. I cant blame Jeff Fisher for turning us down. Can you ?! Really ?!

IMAWriter

Posted by: DeezNutz | 03/23/2012 at 03:11 AM

Maybe the most moronic comment I've seen on a forum in quite a while...well, since yesterday.
The Press and FANS are responsible for the horrendous personnel decisions the various front office stooges have made the past decade?
Talk radio?

And we shouldn't be impatient?
No Super Bowl visit since 1983, no playoff win in what, 10 years?

Oh yeah, I'd better not pout or Ireland will accuse my deceased mother (God rest her soul) of being a tramp.

That was our fault as well?
Moron.
Go back to New York.

DeezNutz

IMAWriter, the only thing I hold against your mother (God rest her soul) is that she gave birth to a fuckin dyslecsic, numb-nut like you ! You didn't carefully read my post. The fans ARE responsible for this (in part)as well as the LOCAL MEDIA, so-called SPORTS WRITERS, and the a.m. "sports talk show hosts" like the Jorge Sedando's, that all they do is play "MONDAY MORNING QUATERBACK" and negativly rile up the sports base in major, desperate anger!None of that helps a sports team and it's immage. You obviously dont listen to a.m. radio to be making such stupid replies. You want to talk about no Super Bowl visits ?! Try Kansas City, Minnesota, and Detroit ! By the way dumb-dumb ... the last Dolphins visit was 85 not 83. This owner and Ireland are on the WRONG side of common sense here, no-doubt. But the local media, has done a brilliant job brainwashing people, over a period of time, to get to this point ! They have NOT been encouraging, in any single way !

markeyh

Many of my fellow Dolphin fans are nothing but whiners! Every second of every day they obsess over every little thing they do or do not do! Get a life get out and enjoy yourselves....

The off season has 4-5 months to go a lot can/will happen in that time. Trust the folks in place to do their jobs and quit being evil haters of your own team!

They can do no right in some folks mind. I question if many of these whiners are even Dolphins fans....

I am disappointed in them not signing Flynn but if they let him go then I trust that Philbin agreed he was not worth the money.

Many said it's Philbin's call and now that they did not sign him these same folks are second guessing them. And poor Jeff can't get a break from the bitter fans and depressed media folks down there.

DeezNutz

Markeyh - Amen brother !

Ireland's Strikes Again!!!

Fire Ireland, Boycott Phins. Why keep on a GM who's presence chases off free agents. Cuts our best Defender, Trades our only weapon for pennies. Has opened more holes in the roster than he has solved. And he asks us to wait for the Draft, how many holes can you fill with unproven players. if your lucky you may get 2 rookies start and I see 8 or 9 glaring holes. Lets go Wets!!

TheSergeantMajor

Barry said "only time will tell" referring to the Dolphins plan to build through the draft and not sign some of the free agents listed. I have no problem with that. The problem many of us have is that Jeff Ireland's had going on five years of his "time to tell" and he's failed miserably. Why is Ireland not held to the same standard that coaches and players are held to regarding performance and results? Or the same standard as anyone that ever held a job "period" for that matter.

It's beyond me how Ireland has a hold on Stephen Ross despite the lack of performance, a cap space that's left the team "cap broke". How do we expect to pay the incoming rookies a decent salary? This has hold-outs written all over it.

It's also obvious that Joe Philbin's sold his soul to be our coach. He likely has no say-so, no input in personnel matters whatsoever. Ireland will run him into the ground the same way he ran Tony Sparano into the ground and stabbed him in the back. Gutless Judas.

Nearly a 95% fan disapproval rating in Greg Cote's poll and the laughing stock of the NFL says it all about Jeff Ireland. Even Dr. Phil weighed in on NFL Total Access last night suggesting that the Fins go see Oprah.

thavafin

Rich Gannon is a tool. Who give a crap what he think.

JOE PHILBIN CLIPBOARD

Hey Rich Gannon, I watch every GB game too!!! He played 2 games!! Is he serious!!!

Stick to TV bro!!!

JOE PHILBIN CLIPBOARD

Well if Miami is going to build through the draft, this better be an A+ effort from Ireland then.

Mike

So the ustification for getting rid of Marshall was basically so we could use most of the money to sifn
Soliai?

Got it.

Barry certainly didn't say that, there are several reasons that he was traded. They didn't want to infect the team with his negativity, they did need the cap space , and not just for Soliai, he didn't fit the WC offense. Things aren't as simple as you present it.

Randy

I don't understand the implication that Matt Flynn will be good just because Aaron Rodgers called him "a top 15 starter." Matt Moore WAS a top 15 quarterback last season (No. 12, behind Philip Rivers and a head of Jay Cutler). So how is signing Flynn making the team better?

Also, that's not much of a compliment. It means he'll only be among the top half of the league? Big deal. The Dolphins need a top 10, maybe top 5, quarterback.

DragonFly34

Who ever said the Dolphin front office was smart? Ireland is as dumb as a box of baby rocks. Not wanting to give FLynn a little extra cash is insane. What a blunder made by Ireland/Ross/Philpin, and on down the line of blunders. I wonder how smart is this new head coach?

felix el gato

Jeff Ireland is an incompetent amateur.

santafin

the point is that ireland and saparano should of been fired together! if the fins were in so deep with manning, than they wouldn't have screwed up plan B or C for that matter. why advertise wants, when the team really had no money to spend on high caliber FAs!i'm sure they will rebuild with the draft, but why look like you have no plan(to the fan base), when you really did'nt manage your money? if ross would FIRE ireland before the draft i would think that philbin and mcarthey could complete this draft process. i'm also sure that these guys have a GM in mind! THIS TEAM NEEDS A FGM THAT CAN TELL ROSS HOW TO OWN A NFL FRANCHISE! FIRELAND!!! FIRELAND!!!

Warfield42

We gotta stop attacking eachothers opinions man. Thats all they are. IAMAWRITER is a GREAT Dolphins fan and DeezNutz post did read as an assault to blame the media and fans 'initially'. I see how ya meant things after explained but so much can be misinterpreted without the benefit of HEARING how its said. Its very tough to stay positive or hope for the best when we've had YEARS of dysfunction down there. We're holding out hope for a guy (Ireland) who has been in house for 5 years and we've STUNK? Who made a monster trade for a #1 WR then gave him away for less 2 yrs. later? Who has a majority of our cap $ spent on one of the worst OL in the league? I mean, the liteny of bad decisions is mindboggling but we all hang on to some semblence of false hope that somehow the stars align & we move upward. Today we sit as a last place finisher from 2011, with no REAL answer at QB, no #1 WR, still with a bad OL, a vastly overrated Reggie Bush as our every down RB (he was stellar last year - I say overrated because his body can't possibly maintain the level of production he had last year on a steady basis - though I hope he does), a bad decision trade up mediocre at best back-up RB, a pretty much mediocre TE, no DE to compliment Wake, no OLB to speak of, a very soft secondary, no cap space and a rookie HC. This team has TONS of ? Thats not the medias fault, thats not my fault. This team has been built poorly & Ireland has had a heavy hand in that of late. Is he solely responsible - no. But he's on the hot seat today & his reign has not been productive thusfar. Stop with the Charles Clay's and Koa Misi's developing crap - they are bit players at best. He has not drafted a star in 3 years. I've been a fan since 1970 and always will be but to see what they've become today is painful. And frankly, I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel.

New Haven Fins Sadness

I don't know why Ireland is getting a free pass.. it's almost as if he is untouchable? He has no hunger to maintain his job and sustain a winning attitude. If he knows he will never get fired or repremanded, than why WOULD he do anything good for the Dolphins? If I was paranoid, I would say he is on the Patriots pay roll to keep us horrible!?!

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