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Dolphins don't use franchise tag but feel impact; Golden "tired of" missteps

A few notes on a Monday:

### As expected, the Dolphins did not use their franchise tag by Monday's 4 p.m. deadline. Only 11 of the 32 teams did not use the tag.

Though they have publicly expressed interest in trying to re-sign Paul Soliai (who got the franchise tag last year) or Kendall Langford before free agency starts March 13, it's questionable if they can achieve that. Of the two, Langford might be more likely to return; he and the Dolphins have had ongoing discussions.

Miami doesn't want to overpay because it wants to save enough of its $15 million cap space to bid for Peyton Manning or, if needed, Matt Flynn.

Other related moves affecting the Dolphins:

Green Bay did not use the tag on Flynn, meaning a team can sign him without having to trade for him. He remains a good possibility if the Dolphins cannot lure Peyton Manning… Detroit used its tag, as expected, on Cliff Avril, removing a potential Dolphins target and one of the top pass-rushers on the market. Same with Indy and Robert Mathis… Houston did not use its tag on elite defensive end Mario Williams, meaning he will available in free agency (though it would be very difficult for Miami to afford BOTH him and  Manning). The Dolphins aren't in position to pursue him before they resolve quarterback… The Cowboys used the franchise tag on linebacker Anthony Spencer, who would have been a likely Dolphins target otherwise....

Tennessee used the tag on Michael Griffin, removing a potential upgrade at safety... Safety LaRon Landry, not franchised by Washington, is available, but he's coming off an Achilles' tendon injury that he's hoping heals without surgery, and hasn't been able to stay healthy in recent years.... Cincinnati did not use the tag on safety Reggie Nelson, who's on Miami's radar.... Top guards Carl Nicks and Ben Grubbs did not received franchise tags and are both available - though likely more expensive than Miami can realistically allocate to that position. So is Jared Gaither, one of the top tackles available in a very weak class of tackles.

### The Dolphins, at this time, are not vigorously pursuing a trade for the No. 2 pick in the draft because of hopes they will land Manning, or as a backup plan, Flynn. What's more, the St. Louis Post Dispatch said the Dolphins “aren’t eager to do business with the Rams.” The newspaper also said the Rams want Washington’s first-round picks this year (No. 6 overall) and next year, plus this year’s second-rounder, but the Redskins don’t want to give up the second-rounder. Cleveland, which picks fourth, reportedly has been reluctant to give up its No. 22 pick in the draft, though that could certainly change.

### Dolphins owner Stephen Ross hired former Jets executive Matt Higgins to build a sports and entertainment company for him. Higgins, former right hand man to Jets owner Woody Johnson, will focus on acquiring and developing new events, among other things.

### Al Golden, asked by WQAM’s Joe Rose on Monday about suspensions to three players (including Seantrel Henderson): “We’re rolling our eyes. It’s been suspension, distraction and inconsistency, one after another, since we arrived. I’m getting tired of it. Having more guys at [an NFL] Combine than wins is a function of our culture.” UM, which went 6-6 last season, had eight players at the NFL Combine.

“Those guys’ decisions are just a microcosm of the team,” he said. “We’re going to get it fixed.”

### Dallas Crawford, the former defensive back now at running back, has been impressive in the first two UM days of spring practice. UM wants to use him as a receiver in the slot. Eduardo Clements also has had sizable gains on several long passes.

### Heat rookie Norris Cole has hit a bit of a rookie wall. He’s 6 for 22 shooting with eight assists and nine turnovers since the All-Star break. One scout said he needs to play more under control.

### Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson, appearing in a game for the first time since last May, reached 94 miles per hour in a 41-pitch performance in the Marlins' exhibition opener against St. Louis on Monday afternoon. The Marlins wanted J.J., coming off a shoulder injury, to throw no more than 45 pitches; he threw 41, allowing two hits and a walk, and striking out two, in 1 2/3 innings. "He threw the ball very well, pain free," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Great outing."

### The Marlins, for the first time, are going to a variable pricing structure, meaning they will raise the prices for certain games after a certain number of seats are sold.

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