The Miami Dolphins want running back Lamar Miller, who is unsigned for 2016, back on the team. They have said as much this week at the Indianapolis Combine and head coach Adam Gase said Miller is gifted in all three areas a running back needs for success -- rushing, pass receiving and pass protection.
The Miami Dolphins want defensive end Cameron Wake, who is 34 years old and coming off a torn Achilles injury, to sign a contract extension so he can be on the team in 2016 and beyond. General manager Chris Grier this week told the story how he hosted Wake at the Combine years ago and they ate lunch together. Grier saw Wake's potential way back then.
The Miami Dolphins want Olivier Vernon, who is unsigned for 2016, back on the team. Yes, he has earned the right to go to free agency, the team has said, but before that the club and Vernon's agent David Canter will be speaking at the Combine to try to head that off. Indeed, even if that meeting doesn't lead to a multi-year deal, the Dolphins do not dismiss the possibility of putting the franchise tag on Vernon.
The Miami Dolphins have reached out to the agent for receiver Rishard Matthews, who like the others, is uncertain of his status for 2016. Matthews is unsigned and scheduled to hit free agency in two weeks. And he wants to get paid. And he wants a chance to be a starter. And the Dolphins don't want to see him go.
The Miami Dolphins say tight end Jordan Cameron is a fit. He didn't produce to expectations last season. He and quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn't exactly click on the chemistry meter last year. But Gase is confident Cameron can light it up in the new offense in 2016 and thus live up to his considerable cap number.
Are the Dolphins aware they were 6-10 last year?
I'm simply asking because that was their record with these guys they are hoping to keep on the roster. And that's what they were with these guys on the roster playing for much, much, much less money. And now they are willing to pay these guys more and commit to them for much longer in order to get better?
There is something counter-intuitive there in my mind.
The Dolphins, a bad team a year ago, are talking about keeping the team together as much as possible and then adding to that. Of course, keeping the team together could limit how much they can add. And keeping the team together, again, keeps together a team that was 6-10.
6 and 10.
Why are we talking about keeping a 6-10 team as intact as possible?
I'm not being snarky, I'm just not getting the extraordinary amount of love the Dolphins this week showed the players that might hit the market. Because in my mind, keeping all those players does nothing to get you better while at the same time limiting your chances to get better because now you're paying much, much more for them.
And paying your old players much, much more, means you're not adding as many new players as you might otherwise like.
Look, the Denver Broncos are working feverishly to keep Von Miller. They want to sign him to a multi-year deal. Well, he's really, really good. And they want to keep him because they WON THE SUPER BOWL and they want to keep that team as intact as possible.
But the Dolphins DID NOT WIN THE SUPER BOWL. And they are seriously considering paying -- just an example -- Olivier Vernon 1000 times more than he made in 2015 in the form of a franchise tag. Does this make sense?
I should tell you GM Mando would keep Olivier Vernon on his team. He's a pass rusher. They're hard to find. Vernon is the embodiment of 8-10 sacks per season. He's 25 years old and his prime is ahead of him. I do not let him walk.
But I'm not keeping him and Miller and Matthews. It's crazy. I'm not keeping Cameron at his current high cap value. And I'm not extending Wake to artificially lower his cap number this year while tying myself up in '17 and maybe '18 when he's 35- and 36-years-old respectively.
In short, I'm not bending over backward to keep a 6-10 team together.
Now, it must be said in all fairness that the Dolphins might not be able to keep all these players. Chris Grier and Mike Tannenbaum have said as much. And in that warning, I'm hoping they realize some of these guys can be replaced much more cheaply.
Miller, for example, is great on the roster when his cap number is $1.6 million as it was in 2015. I have no issue with 852 rushing yards, a 4.5 ypc average, and eight touchdowns for that price.
But Miller isn't going to play for that in 2016. He'll want to triple his salary and that will likely double his cap hit. Now we don't have the bargain we had the last few years. But we have the same player. And, yes, the player might be better if the new coaching staff employs him better. But there isn't a rookie third- or fourth-round pick out there that will do what Miller does for one-third the cap hit?
Are good-not-great RBs that hard to find?
Matthews? The salary floor for him will be $5 million a year. That's what the Dolphins are paying Greg Jennings now, so I see the trade off as a good one. Sign Matthews and wave goodbye to Jennings. But what if Matthews wants more? Like way more? His agent will have multiple suitors starting March 9. Indeed, he'll have multiple suitors when the legal tampering period begins days earlier.
You know what happens when multiple suitors come to a player? His price never goes down. It goes the other direction. So do the Dolphins fight the good fight to keep Matthews when that price climbs? Matthews made $663,000 in 2015 and caught 43 passes for 662 yards (15.4 average) with four TDs. Great bargain.
But now he's going to want to make 10 times that much. Is he going to produce 10 times as much?
Look, Rishard Matthews is a good player. But he was drafted in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. The Dolphins cannot find his replacement in the late rounds of the 2016 draft and save $4-$5 million on their cap?
Same with Jennings, by the way. He was basically the WR coach last season. But he wasn't a very productive WR. So I thank him for his service, shake his hand, and off he goes. Why is he still on this team?
My point is some guys have to graduate. They played above the numbers of their rookie contracts but now that they want bigtime raises, a team should be wary of simply sticking with them for the sake of continuity.
Yes, that makes sense when continuity means keeping A or B-plus players. But continuity to keep a C-plus or B-minus players? Continuity when coming off a 6-10 season?
Continuity doesn't make sense to me in those cases.
To me, one guy does not graduate under any circumstances -- Vernon. Everyone else? Expendable. And that allows me to keep Wake at his current deal and next year when he's 35, we'll see.