The Miami Dolphins braintrust headed for their cars and home at around 8 p.m. Thursday, after a 13-hour day they believed to be quite productive.
It was the second day of NFL free agency and, indeed, the first full day of the process. But rather than sweat the third tier of free agents, the Dolphins are definitely not doing that now. They're doing methodical, and I'm told, "efficient," work this free agency period.
Their big splash work -- if you want to call it that -- is done.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara is not quite the option that had been speculated. Defensive end Robert Ayers is not quite the option that had been speculated. The best guard is off the market. The most expensive guards are off the market. And so Jermon Bushrod becomes Miami's guard option in free agency, with other options I reported on Thursday also figuring into the mix.
The team is kicking tires on Detroit defensive end Jason Jones and Minnesota cornerback Josh Robinson on Friday. Neither is going to break any bank if they sign. If the Dolphins are going to add major talent at defensive end and cornerback, my guess is it will be in the draft.
Barring totally unforeseen circumstances, the Dolphins expect to fill in around the edges with what they hope will be smart and team-friendly deals from here on out in free agency.
So having said that, having established that the big splashes are in the rear view ... Let us consider what has happened and how the Dolphins see it.
The Dolphins recognize they lost home grown players during this free agency period. Olivier Vernon graduated. Lamar Miller graduated. Rishard Matthews graduated. Derrick Shelby graduated. All got good deals in free agency.
And how do the Dolphins feel about that? They would have preferred to keep most of those players. But they they couldn't or wouldn't pay the contracts those players got. And the organization is already celebrating the fact that sometime in March or April of 2017, a boon of compensatory draft picks will be returning to the team for the losses.
The Dolphins expect the NFL will award them a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick and a seventh-round pick -- at the very least, people within the team are thinking -- as compensatory picks from the NFL in 2017. That is obviously in addition to Miami's regular stash of draft picks.
So there's that.
But what about the losses?
I've told you my concerns about the addition of Mario Williams into that locker room. It's a thing to monitor, trust me. And the Dolphins know this. No one I've spoken with or texted with has denied it. But the team simply believes its choice was Olivier Vernon at $17 million per year or Mario Williams at about $9 million in 2016 plus an extra third-round pick in '17.
Brent Grimes or Byron Maxwell? The team sees it, as I previously explained, a net gain to have Maxwell over Grimes. Maxwell is four years younger, about $1 million cheaper against the 2016 salary cap, a good system fit, the Dolphins believe, and ... he's not married to the one out of our lives.
By the way, the one out of our lives, tried to deny any responsibility for Grimes being cut by floating the narrative that the Dolphins came crawling back to Grimes about coming back for 2017 when the Maxwell-Kiko Alonso trade was in limbo for several hours on Wednesday. I asked three distinctly different people within the organization about that Thursday.
Not true. Grimes was going no matter what. Trade, no trade.
So there's that. The idea a player's wife would comport herself in the manner the one out of our lives comported herself and then claim to be a mere bystander in her husband's dismissal is utter lunacy. Moving on ...
The Dolphins lost Lamar Miller to the Houston Texans. He's averaging $6.5 million per year from his new team. The Dolphins liked Miller. They wanted him back. But they didn't want him back at that price. Too expensive, they believe.
So they are very optimistic they are about to land Denver restricted free agent C.J. Anderson, who signed an offer sheet Thursday, within the next five days. The Anderson offer sheet is four years for $18 million.
But here's the thing: I'm told most of the first-year guaranteed money is in the form of roster a roster bonus. A roster bonus is not prorated over the life of the deal like a signing bonus. So $5.25 million in guaranteed roster bonus is on the first year in addition to Anderson's base salary of $760,000.
And thus, the Anderson contract's first year cap number is $6.01 million, which is the range I reported Thursday.
The Denver Broncos are in cap management mode. They need to find a quarterback which costs cap space. They need to re-sign Von Miller which obviously will be expensive. The idea that matching Anderson will be easy is simply a dream.
The Dolphins must add a couple of wide receivers. They will do it within free agency or the draft or both but the additions are not expected to be frontline or expensive players.
The Dolphins will seek a backup quarterback. This is possibly a draft issue.
The Dolphins are not closed for business in free agency, folks. But anyone thinking they're having a grand opening and giving away free money is going to be surprised.