The Dolphins cut receiver Brian Hartline this morning in a move that will save them $5.9 million in cash and $3.2 million salary cap space.
After catching 76 passes for 1016 yards and 74 for 1083 in the previous two seasons, Hartline's numbers dropped to 39-474 last season, largely a result of being thrown a lot fewer passes.
Hartline would have had a $7.4 million cap hit if he had remained on the team without restructuring his contract. But the Dolphins will have $4.2 million in dead money by cutting Hartline.
His 298 catches ranked seventh in Dolphins history.
Hartline's departure leaves the Dolphins with four veteran receivers under contract: Mike Wallace (whose status remains in doubt for next season), Brandon Gibson, Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews.
Of that group, Landry and Matthews are expected to return. Gibson's status also remains in question; he has a $4.2 million hit if he's on the team, $1 million otherwise. [UPDATE: Gibson was cut this afternoon.] Wallace is opposed to taking a pay cut, which the Dolphins want him to do, per multiple sources.
### Add San Francisco’s Dan Skuta (five sacks, three forced fumbles) to the list of free agents the Dolphins like; he can play inside and outside linebacker.
### Some wondered whether the Dolphins might approach specialists Brandon Fields and John Denney about restructuring, but that had not happened as of earlier this week.
### Jeffrey Loria’s increased spending has extended beyond player salaries, and the Marlins say the days of wild payroll fluctuations are over and that the current payroll (about $82 million, second-highest in team history) is a reasonable range, with size of future increases dependent on revenue and on-field success.
Asked if payroll would be slashed dramatically if the Marlins underachieve, as they did after 2012, president David Samson said no. “We’re past that,” he said.
Samson said “we want it to be at a point of stability. It’s the ups and downs that have hurt the franchise. We’re trying to become more stable. The team is going to lose money. Jeffrey is writing checks. [But] our revenues are increasing. We want our payroll to increase.”
Every Marlins payroll spike has been followed by a steep reduction --- from $53.5 million in the championship season of 1997 to $13 million the next; from $60 million in 2005 to $14 million the next; to $101 million in the first year in MarlinsPark (2012) to $50 million and $45 million the next two.
The Marlins’ 2015 payroll could top $85 million if Ichiro reaches incentives on plate appearances. Of the $82 million, the Dodgers are covering $10 million (for Dan Haren) and the Yankees are paying $3 million of Martin Prado’s $11 million.
One factor affecting future payrolls is how much the Marlins can command in their Fox cable deal, which they would like to renegotiate and extend. The contract, which runs through 2020, reportedly pays them about $14 million annually --- lowest in baseball.
Meanwhile, Loria this offseason paid for a private jet with first-class seats for the whole team (the Marlins chartered on United last season), hired an assistant hitting coach for the first time (Lenny Harris), hired a chef to make nutritious meals for players, paid a club-record $18 million for draft picks and international amateur players in 2014 and added more than a half dozen employees on the scouting and administrative side.
General manager Dan Jennings said full-time scouts were hired in Mexico and Colombia in the past year and the Marlins now have scouts in every Latin American country.
### Unlike with Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins failed to strike long-term deals with outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, who rejected multiyear offers but cannot be free agents until after 2019.
Yelich was open to it, had the money been higher: “I’m honored to be approached with something like that. I feel like we’re going to be good for a long time and it would be nice to be a part of it.”
Meanwhile, Ozuna said agent Scott Boras advised him to reject it: “He thought I should wait. I’m young.”
### Mark D'Onofrio said sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Moten has taken "a big leap." Moten has been getting a lot of first-team defensive tackle snaps.
### Trent Harris and Ufomba Kamalu continue to take first-team snaps at defensive end for UM, with Al Quadin Muhammad, Demetrius Jackson and Chad Thomas behind them. It would be surprising if Muhammad or Thomas doesn't emerge as a starter.... Jamal Carter and Dallas Crawford have been sharing first-team safety reps opposite Deon Bush.
### Please see last night's post for a lot more Dolphins and Canes, plus Heat... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz