« UM football adds oral commitment; Fins, Heat; a look at the year in sports | Main | News from Monday's Dolphins locker-room and Philbin's state-of-franchise address; Fins draft order »

Fins' draft order and sked set; Big UM setback; Randy Shannon's new job; Fins offseason preview

A quick Sunday night update:

### The Dolphins learned Sunday night they will pick 12th in April's draft. San Diego, Miami, Tampa, Carolina and New Orleans all finished 7-9. The draft order among those five teams was determined on strength of schedule. The Chargers pick 11th, followed by Miami, Tampa, Carolina and the Saints.

The last time Miami picked 12th (in 2010), the Dolphins traded the pick to San Diego for the 28th pick (Jared Odrick) and the 40th choice (Koa Misi). Miami passed on Dez Bryant and Jason Pierre Paul, among others, at 12, that year. The last two players selected 12th were defensive lineman Fletcher Cox by the Eagles (2011) and quarterback Christian Ponder by the Vikings (2010).

### The Dolphins already knew most of their opponents for next season before Sunday. They learned the final two today: They will play at the Colts next season and play host to San Diego.

As previously noted, besides the AFC East opponents, Miami also will play Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta and Carolina at home; and Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Tampa on the road.

### The NFL announced next weekend's playoff schedule: Bengals-Texans at 4:30 p.m. Saturday; Vikings-Packers at 8 p.m. Saturday; Colts-Ravens at 1 p.m. Sunday and NFC East winner vs. Seattle at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

### Big loss for the Canes basketball team, which announced Sunday night that center Reggie Johnson will miss six to eight weeks with a broken thumb -- an injury sustained at a practice in Hawaii last week. UM ends the regular season March 10 --- in 10 weeks.

Johnson, a senior, is averaging 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds. With Johnson out, Julian Gamble replaced him in the starting lineup in the past three games, including losses to Arizona and Indiana State in Hawaii.

### The University of Arkansas announced Sunday night that it has hired former UM coach Randy Shannon as linebackers coach -- the same job he held this season at TCU. Shannon had hopes of becoming a head coach again but apparently didn't draw any serious interest.

### The attorney for Butch Davis told the Tampa Tribune today that Davis will NOT be the FIU coach. The attorney, Jon Sasser, also disputed a Fox report suggesting that the University of North Carolina was scuttling Davis' plans to be the FIU coach, saying Davis never signed a settlement agreement when he was fired. This season, Davis has served as a special assistant to Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano.

FIU previously interviewed Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, but he reportedly removed his name from consideration.



Asking and answering questions on the Dolphins offseason and the UM investigation:

### How do the Dolphins compare to the rest of the league in terms of off-season flexibility?

Nobody has more, if you factor in both cap space and draft picks.

According to league documents that I obtained a copy of, the Dolphins are third in the league in available cap space, just behind Cleveland and Cincinnati. Miami has $49.4 million in 2013 space, including $5.5 million of unused 2012 space that can be carried over.

Miami’s space will shrink by about $3 million next week when several practice squad players are signed to futures contracts. So within a few days, the amount of Dolphins cap space will be just under $47 million. Cincinnati has the most space, at $55.5 million. The Browns are at $51.5 million.

The Dolphins, Bengals, Browns and Colts are the only teams with less than $100 million in cap commitments for 2013, and those four teams have by far the most cap space. Miami entered Friday with just over $76 million in cap commitments for 2013. The cap is expected to be $121 million, less than $500,000 above this year's.

What’s more, the Dolphins are the only team with five draft picks in the top 100, and their 10 picks overall are more than any team except the 49ers (11). Only the Dolphins and Bengals have two second-round picks. Only the Dolphins and 49ers have two third-rounders.

### How do the other AFC East teams stack up with 2013 cap space?

The Patriots and Bills are among teams with between $20 million and $25 million, but the Jets are in the NFL’s worst cap predicament ($18 million over). Also over: the Saints, Panthers, Steelers, Cowboys, Raiders and Giants.

### Could the Dolphins create even more room?

Yes, if Miami dumps either Richard Marshall --- whose $5.8 million cap number is third-highest behind Karlos Dansby and Paul Soliai -- or Dimitri Patterson, whose $4.6 million is seventh. But the Dolphins might hold onto both for awhile, at least until determining whether it re-signs Sean Smith, which Miami would like to do.

Of the 16 Dolphins with 2013 cap numbers of at least $1 million, the only other who might be at risk is Dan Carpenter ($3 million) if he loses his job in training camp. Richie Incognito’s number isn’t low ($5.4 million), but he and Mike Pouncey have been Miami’s best run blockers all season.

### If the Dolphins resign their top free agents other than Long --- Smith, Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline, Randy Starks and Chris Clemons --- how much space would they have left?

Signing those five (not Long) could take between $20 million and $25 million in cap space, depending on how the deals are structured, which can vary considerably. That should leave Miami with enough room to sign a marquee free agent (if Miami chooses) or a couple of good starters, plus cheap depth and draft picks.

### Assuming Miami won’t use the franchise tag on Long (which would cost $15.4 million), who else might get it?

The projected tag for running backs ($8 million) and cornerbacks ($10.6 million) is more than Miami wants to pay for Bush and Smith. Nevertheless, Smith getting tagged is a possibility. The downside with tagging Smith is that it would result in a big cap hit of $10.6 million for 2013.

The tag is $10.3 million for receivers and $8.3 million for defensive tackles – way too high for Hartline or Starks.

### Who are Miami’s other free agents besides those six?

Unrestricted: Matt Moore, Nate Garner, Tony McDaniel, Anthony Fasano, Tyrone Culver, Patrick Brown, Nate Kaeding. Miami likely will try to keep Moore and Garner but must decide on McDaniel and Fasano. The Dolphins would like to upgrade at tight end, though that doesn't necessarily preclude Fasano coming back.

Restricted free agents: Marlon Moore, Bryan McCann, R.J. Stanford, Jonathon Amaya, Austin Spitler, Jeron Mastrud.

### Everybody knows about the top free agents receivers: Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe and Wes Welker. But what other unrestricted free agents could help Miami?

If the Dolphins don’t re-sign Long, they could gauge the market on established right tackles Sebastian Vollmer, Phil Loadholt and Branden Albert.

Dustin Keller, Fred Davis, Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook would upgrade the passing game at tight end.

And if Smith proves too costly, there are a bunch of other free agent starting cornerbacks: Pittsburgh's Keenan Lewis, Baltimore's Cary Williams, Philadelphia's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, San Diego's Quentin Jammer, Atlanta's Brent Grimes (off a torn Achilles), Detroit's Chris Houston, Jacksonville's Derek Cox, Cleveland's Sheldon Brown, Denver's Tracy Porter, New England's Aqib Talib and Tampa Bay's E.J. Biggers.

### The Dolphins had more than $13 million in dead money on its 2012 cap, from Yeremiah Bell, Brandon Marshall and others. Where does Miami stand with dead money for 2013?

The Dolphins have only $1.6 million in dead money from nearly a dozen players, ranging from Vontae Davis ($1.1 million) to Les Brown ($1667).

### UM has done everything the NCAA has asked: self-imposing two bowls (actually, three postseason games if you include the ACC title game) and telling players they might be disassociated from the school if they don’t agree to be interviewed by investigators. So when does UM start to stand up for itself and fight back?

“When we get the notice of allegations, [UM outside counsel] Mike Glazier will have to be tough at that point,” a high-ranking UM official said. “You want to show cooperation up until the point you have the allegations. They can’t claim we weren’t cooperative. We’re trying to do everything possible to make sure the NCAA does not use the words ‘lack of institutional control.’”

Another UM official reminded that once the notice of allegations is mailed, control shifts from the NCAA’s enforcement division to the infractions committee, and UM then would challenge enforcement’s findings if there are any claims it disputes. Yes, UM wants to put this behind them, but it's customary to defend yourself before the infractions committee within 90 days or so after receiving your allegations.

“The question,” the UM official said, “is how far does the NCAA want to go if they don’t have documentation to prove specific allegations?”

### What will UM say in its own defense?

Glazier will craft UM’s strategy, in consultation with president Donna Shalala and UM’s on-staff lawyers. That won’t be determined until the allegations are sent.

But a UM official said there has been discussion internally about making this point in front of the infractions committee: “Nevin Shapiro was a rogue booster who wormed his way into the scene. He would just show up. For example, Donna didn’t know he would be at the bowling alley where that picture was taken.”

### When will UM gets the allegations?

School officials had thought they would come by December, but the process has been delayed by the enforcement committee's attempt to reach numerous former UM football players and further investigate  Shapiro's allegations involving basketball. UM hopes to get the allegations in January, but nobody has been told for sure.


### Don’t tell Pouncey the offensive line is playing as well without Long. He insists tape analysis shows that’s not the case: “It’s a big difference,” Pouncey said adamently. But the numbers suggest otherwise: In fact, Miami is averaging more yards per rushing attempt without Long in the lineup (4.6) than with him (3.8). And there's no difference in sacks allowed per game, either. 

That’s why -- barring a change of heart -- the Dolphins are prepared to move on without Long, unless he takes a Miami offer that likely would be topped by other suitors in free agency. The ball will be in Long's court about whether he's willing to take less to sign here. The odds are against that, but we'll see.

### Everybody likes to call this a football town, so this was eye-opening: A greater percentage of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes (15.6) watched Tuesday’s Heat-Thunder game than several Dolphins games in 2012, including the Texans opener (12.7) and Dolphins-Bills last Sunday (15.4). That would have been unfathomable a few years ago.

### Not only did the Heat enter the weekend with five players in the top 20 in three-point shooting percentage, but Miami’s 41.0 overall percentage on threes would rank third in NBA history over a full season, with Charlotte holding the record at 42.8 in 1996-97. Only nine teams have ever shot above 40 percent on threes.

### We hear owner Jeffrey Loria called Logan Morrison not only to say he’s still a big part of the Marlins’ future, but also to tell him it wasn’t lost on Loria how maturely Morrison handled the offseason upheaval. Unlike Giancarlo Stanton and Ricky Nolasco, Morrison didn’t voice displeasure on Twitter about Ozzie Guillen's firing or the payroll dumping, and that pleased Loria. Morrison is moving from left field to first base.

### If you have a question about your specific team's cap space that I haven't addressed, e-mail and I'm glad to answer.