The day before the official start of free agency and plenty of comings and goings ...
First, Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com reported this morning the Dolphins are hoping to close a deal with defensive end Mario Williams today. Williams, the former first overall draft pick of the Houston Texans in 2006, is a street free agent who has visited the Dolphins and New York Giants. He can sign before the start of free agency.
And he would be a domino signing that affects several other moves in Miami. It should be noted Williams wants a contract that averages at least $10 million per season. This despite collecting only five sacks in 15 starts with Buffalo in 2015. He obviously was not a system fit in Rex Ryan's 3-4 defense. He would be a system fit in Miami's 4-3 that will employ a Wide 9 rush approach.
[Update: I'm told if Williams signs with Miami (and that is now likely, barring a team jumping in at the last minute) the deal will average more along the lines of $7.5 to $8 million annually.]
But here's the thing: Mario Williams signs, there is very little way the Dolphins can also keep a $12.7 million transition tender on Olivier Vernon and handle the scheduled $9.8 million salary cap hit for Cameron Wake. Combined with a $12 million cap hit for Ndamukong Suh (the team created $16 million in cap space when it recently restructured his contract), that is a ton of money on the defensive line.
A ton of money. Too much.
It is untenable.
So something has to give. Either the team rescinds the transition tag on Vernon (likely) or cuts Wake (possible, one supposes after he declined to restructure his contract). The Dolphins are not in love with Vernon but he's 25. They love Wake but he's 34 and coming off an Achilles tear that ended his season in October last year.
I think the Dolphins let Vernon walk. I would try to keep the young guy and let Wake walk in a perfect world. But obviously, Vernon is going to get offers in free agency and the Dolphins must match whatever offer sheet he signs to keep him -- a major gamble.
If the Dolphins do close with Williams, they will have the first overall pick of the 2006 and the second overall pick (Suh) of the 2010 draft.
Williams, it must be noted, last visited the Giants and they also were in negotiations with him on Monday.
[Correction: Willliams planned to visit the Giants but never did. His asking price was too steep, even for a team with $50 million in salary cap space.]