A six pack of Dolphins, Heat, Canes and broadcast items:
### Teams can use their franchise tags beginning next Tuesday, and cornerback Brent Grimes remains Miami’s most likely candidate to get tagged. But Grimes hopes the Dolphins and agent Ben Dogra can come to a multi-year agreement instead.
Grimes said when the season ended that he wants to be here but prefers a multiyear deal. At 30, this could be his last big contract because cornerbacks typically don’t get big money as they get well into their 30s.
A franchise tag “is not what anybody wants,” Grimes said.
The Dolphins would be well-served to try to negotiate a multi-year deal with Grimes because the franchise tag for a cornerback has been estimated by CBSSports.com to be $11.2 million, and using it on Grimes would reduce the Dolphins’ cap space to around $20 million and still needing to:
1) re-sign Paul Soliai or Randy Starks. Those talks could begin in earnest in a week or two;
2) add probably four starting offensive linemen through a combination of the draft and free agency;
3) resolve one starting safety job by re-signing Chris Clemons, signing someone else, or opting for Jimmy Wilson at that spot;
4) possibly re-signing Nolan Carroll;
5) possibly adding a running back and another tight end. (It’s unclear if Dustin Keller will be ready for next season, or whether this regime would even want him);
6) sign all its draft picks.
7) add a run-stopping outside linebacker IF Miami decides to upgrade over Philip Wheeler.
8) eventually filling out a practice squad in September.
9) anything else Dennis Hickey deems necessary.
Even if the Dolphins give Grimes the franchise tag, they still can negotiate a longterm deal and lift the tag before mid-July.
As we’ve noted, Miami can clear additional space by asking Wheeler and Dimitri Patterson to take a pay cut, restructuring Mike Wallace’s deal, among other things. (Not saying they will, only that they can.)
### With the Heat nearing the All-Star break, we’ll evaluate various positions over the coming days.
A few thoughts on point guard: Mario Chalmers’ shooting percentage has improved considerably from a year ago (42.9 to 46.1) and he’s averaging a career-high 5.0 assists. But his turnovers per game are way up (to 2.3) and he’s on pace for his highest turnover average since his rookie season.
Norris Cole’s shooting is also up from a year ago (42 to 45), but his assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.9 to 1 rates only 38th of 45 qualifying point guards. (Chalmers is 33rd at 2.19 to 1.)…
Both rank in the top half of qualifying point guards in three-point percentage: Chalmers 18th at 38.6, Cole 19th at 38.5, and that's a valued asset with this team….
Erik Spoelstra has used them together more than last year, and the Heat is plus 35 in 228 minutes when they play in tandem (or plus-7.4 every 48 minutes)…
Though Cole has shown tangible improvement, the Heat clearly would be weakened if it cannot re-sign Chalmers because of luxury tax reasons. If he’s willing to take a pay cut for next season, Dwyane Wade would improve the Heat’s chances of retaining Chalmers.
Cole’s on-the-ball defense is obviously valued here, but Chalmers remains the more efficient offensive player, even with his turnover issues.
### A name you’ll be hearing a lot in the coming year: Coconut Creek Monarch senior-to-be receiver Calvin Ridley, who is rated an even better prospect than Stacy Coley was at this time in his development.
Rivals.com rates Ridley the No. 2 receiver and 11th best player overall in the 2015 class. Some expect he will pick UM, but he insisted to the Tennessee Volunteers’ Rivals.com web site that he has no front-runner. He’s also considering Alabama, UF, FSU and Ohio State, among others. He will be a big priority for UM, especially with Phillip Dorsett entering his senior season.
"I'm open to everyone right now," he told rivals.com. "I can't say one team leads."
### UM defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio is very happy with his secondary. “Excited about our safeties, getting Kiy Hester and Marques Gayot,” he told UM’s web site. “Two really good safeties. The important thing about getting safeties is finding guys who played the position in high school. These are true safeties --- can cover, can tackle, the whole package.
“You're starting to see more and more guys [on the UM roster] look alike at those positions as far as characteristics of those positions, the size, the athleticism. We've created a lot more depth. [And] we're fortunate we haven't lost any corners” from last year.
### WMEN-640, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy, has picked up Jim Rome’s show from noon to 3 p.m., beginning today.
The station opted for Rome instead of promoting former WQAM staffer Jon Linder or hiring a number of former NFL players who auditioned for that slot in the past month, including Plaxico Burress and Adewale Ogunleye.
Linder said tonight he was offered the job three weeks ago, but the offer was rescinded because the station cited financial reasons.
### NBC’s Olympic ratings through three nights have been very strong, beating the competition handily, and are very much on par with the 2010 Vancouver Olympics ratings, even though all of NBC’s Sochi prime-time coverage is on tape.
On Sunday, NBC’s Olympics drew 25.4 million viewers, compared with 13.6 million for CBS’ Grammy’s salute to the Beatles.
Over Friday and Saturday nights, NBC drew slightly more viewers than the comparable two nights in Vancouver.