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The Miami Dolphins have to do more with less this offseason

So here we are two months after the end of the 2015 season and only eight days from the start of the 2016 league year and the same Dolphins that had multiple areas of talent need when the season ended seem headed toward having more needs when they begin to address their problems.

Grim?

I don't know about that. But true?

No doubt.

Consider for a moment that we knew defensive end was going to be a need for the team in 2016 because Cameron Wake is 34 years old and Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby were unsigned. Well, guess what, based on the team putting the transition tag on Vernon Tuesday, it seems more likely than not Vernon will not be with the team next season.

The truth is the team has a certain value for Vernon. That value is in the $12-$13 million range based on their transition tender and other numbers that have been unofficially tossed of across negotiating tables. But the problem for the Dolphins is other teams are awash in salary cap space (and the Dolphins are not going to be at that level even after making cost cutting moves) and those teams needs for a pass rusher.

And so Vernon may get $14 million per year from someone -- say like, Jacksonville or Oakland -- both of which have over $70 million in available cap space. 

Would the Dolphins match offers in that range? Hard to fathom them doing that. Obviously all this depends on whether Vernon could generate such offers and the Dolphins aren't certain he will. But a source close to the player seemed confident Vernon would bring close to that kind of money in free agency starting March 9.

So let's assume that's true. Vernon gets that kind of offer. The Dolphins do not match. Now they have to go out and find a replacement.

Did they just get better? Or did they just fill a hole created after the 2015 season?

They just filled a new hole without yet addressing the other holes we know, they know, everybody knows they had when the season ended.

And what has to happen is the Dolphins have to replace Vernon with any of the handful of players they've identified capable of doing that, including as I reported Tuesday, Los Angeles Rams defensive end William Hayes. But the net gain is still zero.

And the team still has to address the possible loss of Shelby, who is looking to double his salary, while managing the fact Wake is 34 years old and coming off a traumatic Achilles injury that ended his '15 season in October. So now the Dolphins are looking this offseason for Vernon's replacement, Shelby's replacement and someone to share snaps with Wake.

This team needs three defensive ends!

(Oh, but what about Terrence Fede?)

Yeah, Fede faded toward the end of last season. He has to be something he has not yet been to be one of those three additions.

Wide receiver?

Look, I highly doubt Rishard Matthews returns to Miami. Yes, he wants to start negotiations around $5 million per year. But he wants to play. A lot.

And the Dolphins are not going to promise Matthews anything because the player's camp would see through that fake promise. The player's camp sees the Dolphins drafted DeVante Parker. And Jarvis Landry just went to the Pro Bowl. And Kenny Stills is the No. 3 guy. So where does Rishard Matthews fit?

He told WQAM's Joe Rose recently he wants to be no less than the No. 2 receiver. If he sticks to that he's gone, because Parker and Landry are going to be No. 1 and No. 2 for the Dolphins.

So the Dolphins, needing a ton of defensive help, have to add at least one wide receiver and certainly two if Matthews bolts.

I hate treadmills. But I feel like the team I cover is going to be running really hard this offseason to merely keep pace with where it was last season on the talent front. By definition that is running in place.

I have not even begun to address whether the Dolphins are keeping Brent Grimes or not. Yes, coach Adam Gase said at the combine he's spoken to Grimes. And that sounds like all is well and settled and good. But the talk still has not happened. And it must happen before the Dolphins can convince themselves all is well on the Grimes family front.

(You know what this means if you are a frequent reader here. If not catch up here for a snapshot of the issue).

Assuming the Grimes talk goes well, the Dolphins still need help at cornerback. They need to add a starting caliber cornerback opposite Grimes. They need to identify a nickel corner, be it Bobby McCain or someone else. Those three guys would be playing at least 65 percent of the snaps each. Remember last year those snaps were covered (pardon the pun) mostly by Grimes, Brice McCain and Jamar Taylor.

Well, McCain is cut after being a free agency bust. And Taylor was deep in the coaching staff's doghouse because, well, touchdowns, first downs, and completions happened at an alarming rate on his watch.

So the Dolphins had issues here with the bodies they had. Now, they don't even seem to have viable bodies to identify as candidates for open jobs.

This team needs to add at least two starting caliber cornerbacks if you believe the nickel plays starter number of snaps.

So far the list of needs, wants and must haves is two and maybe three defensive ends. Two wide receivers, at least one of which will be active on game days. And two starting caliber cornerbacks.

And we haven't even discussed two linebackers. A safety. One guard for sure but maybe two. A swing tackle who can replace Jason Fox, who was cut after the season, to be the backup to Branden Albert and Ja'Wuan James.

The team needs a backup quarterback because Matt Moore is a free agent and the team is moving on. (Yes, Logan Thomas is back. Is he the backup?)

And Miami either has to re-sign Lamar Miller or look for a new starting running back.

That is a full, full plate.

And I simply do not see how the Dolphins find at least eight quality starters -- two linebackers, one defensive end, one running back, one guard, two corners including the nickel, and a safety -- and then also fill in five important backups in one offseason.

And remember the team is going to have only moderate salary cap space -- depending on how extensively it cuts or restructures contracts -- while nine teams are going to have at least $40 million in cap space, with five of those having $55 million or more in cap space.

Folks, in 2013 the Dolphins had tons of cap space and five draft picks in the first three rounds. It didn't bring the boon of talent everyone hoped and indeed expected. This year is the opposite of 2013. There is going to be good-not-great cap space. The Dolphins will have no boon of draft picks.

So can Mike Tannenbaum and the Miami braintrust do with much less what Jeff Ireland and the Miami braintrust could not do with much more? 

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