Thursday is tight ends day for the Miami Dolphins.
As I reported here overnight Tuesday early Wednesday, the Dolphins have Cleveland tight end Jordan Cameron on their free agency radar and that is going to become obvious because the former Pro Bowl player is scheduled to begin his visit with Miami after arriving in South Florida Wednesday evening.
At the same time, I'm told the Buffalo Bills and the representation for Charles Clay are expected to put the finishing touches on an offer sheet to the Miami transition player. If the agreement is finalized, Clay may sign it likely before the weekend. The Dolphins would then have five days to decide whether to match the offer sheet or let Clay walk.
The Dolphins get no draft choice compensation if they do not match.
If the Bills and Clay cannot put together the offer sheet -- yeah, unlikely -- the tight end may move on to visiting the Cleveland Browns, which also have interest in signing Clay to an offer sheet.
Each team has more salary cap space than the Dolphins. I'll update those figures here in the morning when they are posted by the NFL Players Association. But after signing Ndamukong Suh Wednesday, the Dolphins may find it difficult to match a heavily frontloaded, 2015 heavy-salary-cap-hit offer.
The Suh deal, by the way, is every bit as staggering as Chris Mortensen reported it would be Sunday.
Per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, Suh's deal is six years and worth, here we go, $114,285,000.
He got a $25,500,000 signing bonus.
A total of $59,995,000 is fully guaranteed. His annual salary will average out to $19,047,500.
His base salary in 2015 will be $985,000 so the cap hit this year will be $6.085 million.
His base salary in 2016 will be $23,485,000. That plus the prorated signing bonus number of $5.1 million will make his '16 cap hit a whopping $28.585 million.
This base salary in '17 is $9.985 million so his cap hit is scheduled to be $15.085 million.
The base salaries this season, next season and in 2017 are fully guaranteed.
This disparity between the Year Two and Year Three cap number suggests the Dolphins expect the cap to rise dramatically next year, perhaps by as much at $10 million.
Suh will be due an $8.5 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year in 2018. If he gets that, it'll be a good bet he remains on the team that year and will be scheduled to make $16.95 million in base salary. His cap number in 2018 is scheduled at $22.085 million.
In 2019 his base salary is $18.95 million and his cap number is at $24.085 million.
In 2020 his base salary is $18.36 million and his cap number is at $18.36 million.
(I promise, I started this post with the intention of writing about tight ends).
Anyway, the Dolphins are not out of the Clay sweepstakes. If they are smart, they'll realize they undervalued the market for him and are trying to still work out a multi-year deal. On the other hand, I'm sure Clay is committed to seeing what the Bills and possibly the Browns actually put on paper.
Restricted free agents don't take trips unless some initial ground work is done and both sides are serious. So Charles Clay didn't go to Buffalo to eat wings.
The Bills on Wednesday cut longtime tight end Scott Chandler. The move saved the team $2.25 million in cap space. Guess where that is likely to be allocated?
Yes, the Clay offer sheet.
The point is the Dolphins are currently carrying $7 million in cap space for Charles Clay. The Bills may want to double that cap number this year to make it prohibitive for Miami to match even if the Dolphins were to elect cutting linebacker Dannell Ellerbe -- a $5.65 million savings -- to try to fit Clay on board.
As for Cameron ... He would be much cheaper than Charles Clay. The fact he's had three concussions in two seasons limits his earning potential.
Cameron probably gets a one-year, prove-it contract or perhaps a two-year contract to make the deal more cap friendly with the second year becoming an easy cut option.
It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins wait on the Clay offer sheet first before offering Cameron (assuming medical tests come back relatively clean) or if they've already reconciled that they're going to get blown out of the water in that first year by the Bills.
The answer may come today.