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2 p.m. Saturday: Heat stars opt out; Dolphins bringing in veteran starting OL; Dolphins chatter; UM advances talks with Cowboys Stadium

2 p.m. update:

### As expected, Dwyane Wade has opted out of the last two years and $42 million of his contract and Chris Bosh intends to do the same, according to ESPN.

Both are expected to work with the Heat on longer deals that would give Miami additional spending money under the salary cap to upgrade the roster this summer.

Agent Henry Thomas confirmed, via text message, that Wade and Udonis Haslem have informed the Heat that they have opted out but said Bosh "has not yet decided." But Bosh is expected to follow Wade, Haslem and LeBron James in opting out, with ESPN reporting he already has made that decision.

As we reported last week, a friend said Wade would be receptive to opting out and signing a deal in the four-year, $60 million range. Whether the Heat is willing to go as high as $60 million will become clear in the coming days.

Bosh also is willing to take a pay cut to the $15 million to $16 million range next season, according to ESPN.

Backloading new contracts for Wade and Bosh would give the Heat additional cap space this summer, but less so in the fourth year of their deals.

Wade, 32, is permitted to sign a contract as long as four years. Bosh can re-sign with the Heat for as many as five years.

Haslem, meanwhile, opted out of the last year and $4.6 million of his contract and will sign a longer deal with a lower first-year salary.

With James also opting out, the Heat is expected to have $55 million in cap space when free agency starts Tuesday.

A lot of that money will go toward re-signing James, Wade and Bosh, and to a much lesser extent, Haslem. But the Heat also wants to leave enough money to sign an impact free agent or two.

An associate of James reiterated that the Heat is the very strong front-runner to retain him. The Big Three would like to continue their association in Miami and are working toward that goal.

In addition to whatever cap room is left after re-signing the Big Three and Haslem, the Heat also will have a $2.7 million room salary cap exception to spend on another free agent, as well as a $2.2 million trade exception. And Miami can exceed the cap by signing players to the veteran's minimum.

The Heat will begin free agency by pursuing the top players available, a list that includes Carmelo Anthony (who is not scheduled to visit Miami at this point), Kyle Lowry, Pau Gasol, Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza.

If Wade and Bosh take $15 million next season, James $18 million and Haslem close to $3 million, that would leave the Heat with about $5.5 million --- likely not enough for a Lowry or Gortat. So more might need to be created, perhaps by backloading contracts of Wade and Bosh.

James could make $20 million next season, and Yahoo! said he wants a max deal or something close to it. An associate of LeBron also said he would be surprised if James took a significant pay cut.

So to create room for high-level free agents, most of the financial sacrificing will need to be done by Wade, Bosh and Haslem.

The Heat also could create additional space by trading Norris Cole (due $2.1 million) without taking money back or releasing Justin Hamilton ($816,000 salary is non-guaranteed).

Keep in mind that any unfilled roster spots (up to 12) each count as a cap hold of just over $500,000. The salary cap is expected to be $63.6 million next season.

### Pat Riley's statement, on the opt-outs by Wade and Haslem: “Today we were notified of Dwyane’s intention to opt-out of his contract and Udonis’ intention to not opt into his contract, making both players free agents. Dwyane has been the cornerstone of our organization for over a decade, and we hope he remains a part of the Heat family for life. Udonis has been the heartbeat of this team for 11 years. He has sacrificed countless times to make this organization successful, and he is the epitome of what this organization stands for. We look forward to meeting with Dwyane and Udonis and their agent in the coming days to discuss our future together."


According to a league source, the Dolphins have scheduled a Monday visit with veteran starting guard Daryn Colledge, who would provide depth and versatility on a unit still stinging from the loss of center Mike Pouncey.

Under new general manager Dennis Hickey, the Dolphins have attempted to sign every veteran free agent who has visited. 

Colledge --- who has played guard, tackle and even center on a limited basis during his career --- has started 124 of his 128 NFL games over his eight years, including every game the past six seasons. 

Colledge, 32, played his first five seasons with Green Bay and his past three with Arizona. Last year, he played left guard, and Pro Football Focus rated him 45th of 81 qualifying guards --- 32nd in pass protection and 53rd as a run blocker. Colledge, who allowed two sacks last season, knows Dolphins coach Joe Philbin well from their time together in Green Bay.

Pouncey, who had hip surgery last week, is expected to miss between two and six regular season games. The Dolphins say Sam Brenner is their backup center, but Nate Garner is among several other options to fill in for Pouncey. So is first-team right guard Shelley Smith, who has taken snaps at center during the offseason program.

If the Dolphins decide to move Smith to center, Colledge could play guard. It's possible Colledge also could take snaps at center.

Dallas Thomas has taken most of the first-team snaps at left guard during the offseason program, with rookie Billy Turner backing him up.

Colledge's versatility makes him a sensible fit regardless of what permutation the Dolphins choose to replace Pouncey until his return.


A potpourri of Friday night items:


### Some people inside the Dolphins wouldn’t mind conserving a roster spot by having Jarvis Landry replace Marcus Thigpen as the punt returner. Thigpen was 18th in kickoff returns, 19th in punt returns last season.

But offensive coordinator Bill Lazor likes Thigpen and the Dolphins will need to find a spot for him if he proves to be their best returner. Though Landry says he can return kicks and Lamar Miller can, too, none of the other players who fielded kickoffs last week besides Thigpen (Damian Williams, Matt Hazel and Rantavious Wooten) might even make the team.

### The Dolphins have been making preliminary inquiries about some available centers, though it remains to be seen whether Miami will bring in any for a visit or sign any of them.

Here’s how the remaining unsigned starting centers finished in the Pro Football Focus rankings last season, among 35 qualifying centers:

Cincinnati’s Kyle Cook was 24th, Pittsburgh’s Fernando Velasco 25th, Jacksonville’s Brad Meester 30th, and the Colts’ Samson Satele 31st.

Mike Pouncey, who is expected to miss two to six regular-season games, was 13th.

The Dolphins also have shown interest in free agent guard Daryn Colledge. He has started 124 NFL games and played for Joe Philbin when Philbin was an assistant in Green Bay.

### Among the subplots we’ll be watching in training camp (first practice is July 25) are battles for backup positions on defense, several of which have become very competitive.

At cornerback, Jalil Brown has made a strong case so far to make this team and perhaps even play ahead of Will Davis. But do you keep six corners, which seems excessive considering safety Jimmy Wilson plays in the nickel: Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan, Jamar Taylor (who are clearly your top three), Davis, Brown and rookie Walt Aikens?

Impressive LSU rookie Anthony Johnson has a legitimate chance to beat out A.J. Francis and Isaako Aaitui for the No. 4 defensive tackle spot. And undrafted rookies Garrison Smith (Georgia) and Kamal Johnson (Temple) also have earned consideration.

At safety, three things are set: Reshad Jones and Louis Delmas as starters and Wilson as the nickel back. The fourth safety job is very close among Jordan Kovacs (the new front office likes him), Don Jones (upside on special teams) and Michael Thomas (the end-of-game star against New England).

### Early reviews of defensive tackle Earl Mitchell have been encouraging.

“They got a real good player,” Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson, his former Texans teammate, told me. “He’s not a real big dude [by behemoth defensive tackle standards] but he plays like a big dude.”

### Jason Taylor, who has been serving as a volunteer assistant at times during the Dolphins' offseason program, addressed a couple of issues on 790 The Ticket's morning show, with Jonathan Zaslow and

Taylor's sister Joy:

1) On his Dolphins role from here: "I did a little bit in OTAs and mini camp and I will probably do some in training camp. I hope they have me back. It's good to be around the guys again and do football and share some of the knowledge you were able to gain. We'll see if I can do a little bit more in training camp and take it from there."

2) On whether it makes sense for Dion Jordan to play special teams: "The thing about Dion is he is so athletic he gives you an advantage on [special teams]. The problem is taking a little bit of gas out of the tank [on defense]. I played on the punt and punt return team my first three years."


Though nothing is finalized, UM’s talks with Cowboys Stadium have progressed and all parties are working toward having the Hurricanes open the 2018 season against LSU in Arlington, Tx.

The game would be on a Saturday night and televised nationally.

UM has decided to focus on finalizing that game and has decided against playing Alabama in Atlanta to open the 2017 season.

### UM tonight added 6-7 former Niagara power forward Joe Thomas, who averaged 3.4 points and 2.7 rebounds last season. He’s eligible immediately. The Canes were desperate to add another power rotation player.

"Joe joins us at the perfect time," UM coach Jim Larranaga said. "We needed a frontcourt player with experience and a fifth-year senior was exactly what my staff and I hoped for. He provides us with some size and strength and rebounding toughness."

Thomas, who attended Krop High in Miami, has one season of eligibility left. 


Yes, the Heat likes Toronto free agent point guard Kyle Lowry, though Miami likely could afford him only if Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and perhaps LeBron James take pay cuts. But no, they are not on the verge of a sign-and-trade for him.

Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher posted a story tonight saying the Heat and Raptors would imminently complete a trade that would send Lowry to Miami for Norris Cole and draft picks.

Bucher retracted the story shortly after that.

“My deepest and sincere apologies,” Bucher tweeted earlier this evening. “My report on Lowry and a [sign-and-trade] between the Heat and Raptors is wrong. I should’ve known better. I could not be more embarrassed. I can’t explain why someone would go to the lengths my source did to set me up….”

### Saturday morning update: Haslem has opted out of a contract that would have paid him $4.6 million next season. He is instead expected to get a multiyear deal with a lower year one salary. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are expected to opt out before Monday's deadline.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz