The Dolphins have begun the much-expected purge of their salary cap (and roster) this offseason by cutting wide receiver Brian Hartline.
The move -- confirmed by a league source and the Dolphins -- can go one of two ways: The release is either happening right away and goes on the books that way or is happening right away but is designated as a post June 1 cut.
Without the designation the move saves the Dolphins $3.1 million in cap space but leaves $4.2 million in dead money that Miami will deal with despite not having the two-time 1,000-yard receiver. If the move is designated post June 1 (and teams can use two such designations) then the move will save $5.1 million in space and leave $1.4 million in dead money -- but that space comes after June 1.
The Dolphins are not believed to have offered Hartline a pay cut. The receiver was open to a negotiable pay cut to stay in Miami, according to a source.
Hartline signed a five-year, $30.77 million deal in 2013 amid two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He caught 74 passes for 1,083 yards and one touchdown in 2012 and came back with 1,016 yards for on 76 catches with four TDs in 2013.
But Hartline became expendable for the Dolphins when he dipped to 39 catches for 474 yards last season. It seemed his previous role went to Mike Wallace and even rookie Jarvis Landry had more catches than he did.
That did not merit the 19th highest wide receiver contract for the Dolphins.
A source close to Hartline tells me he is disappointed but not shocked by this move. He hopes to catch on with a team closer to his native Ohio -- a team that has an accomplished quarterback.
Among the teams Hartline would like to play for is the Indianapolis Colts.
This is the proverbial first shoe to drop. There will be as many as half a dozen others. Among other Miami players who are at risk of being released this offseason:
LB Dannell Ellerbe.
LB Phillip Wheeler.
WR Mike Wallace -- although team is considering a pay cut or a trade.
WR Brandon Gibson.
G Nate Garner.
CB Cortland Finnegan -- either that or he'll retire.
DT Randy Starks.
OL Shelley Smith.