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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
Now that the 2015 is (thankfully) over, I wanted to share my offseason plan for this team from a talent acquisition standpoint. I can't speak on the coaching search because I haven't really studied the candidates, but my preference would be to hire a coach that will teach disciplined football, be able to motivate players, establish locker room leaders and specializes in a system that maximizes QB strengths. Most importantly, that coach needs to be able to haul in good coordinators that will have flexible systems that can adjust to player's strengths.
I'll leave that to Tannenbaum *gulp* and focus on talent acquisition.
Phase I - Clear Cap Space
The cap may remain flat or increase by $10 million. The expectation is that it will remain flat and increase to about $153 million, but could go up more. So we'll stay with $150 million for now.
The expectation is that the Dolphins will have $156.5 million in cap commitments in 2016. So let's start with the Dolphins being $6.5 million over the cap. Where can the Dolphins move to quickly get under the cap without losing top talent?
Quinton Coples - $7.75 million
Greg Jennings - $4 million
Earl Mitchell - $2.5 million
Brice McCain - $2.5 million
Jason Fox - $1.38 million
Jamar Taylor - $0.9 million
Billy Turner - $0.5 million
Dallas Thomas - $0.7 million
By removing these players that do not bring much to the table, the Dolphins save $20 million against the cap for a total of $13.5 million in cap space. This will allow us to have enough money to sign 1 or 2 of our impending free agents. Maybe Lamar Miller and Rishard Matthews or Derrick Shelby, but probably not one of those guys and Olivier Vernon. Or they can probably resign Olivier Vernon with that money and still have enough for the rookie pool. If you look at the list of Dolphins free agents, Miller, Shelby, Matthews and Vernon are probably the only guys worth keeping. Maybe Matt Moore as well, but I have another direction for that later in my write up. For a list of free agents, go here:
So now the Dolphins are $13.5 million under the cap. There is a way for them to create even more cap space, but it could involve letting some of their better plays go.
Other players I would cut:
Dion Jordan - $3.2 million
Jordan Cameron - $7.5 million - would consider bringing him back at a much cheaper rate
Now you have a total cap space of $24.2 million. With that money, you can afford to bring back Miller and Vernon. While I like Matthews and Shelby, I wouldn't break the bank for either because we're deep at wide receiver and I plan on keeping Wake.
Phase II - Retain Top Talent
The next step would be restructures:
Brandon Albert - $10.15 million cap hit
Cameron Wake - $9.8 million cap hit
Brent Grimes - $9.5 million cap hit
Koa Misi - $4.9 million cap hit
We can outright cut these players for an additional $24 million in cap space and find ourselves with a total of $48 million. But then we have some more major holes to fill. So I will attempt to restructure all of these players. Here is the cap savings I would attempt to get from each via restructures.
Brandon Albert - $3 million
Cameron Wake - $3 million
Brent Grimes - $3 million
Koa Misi - $2 million
So I head into free agency with $35 million to spend. Here's what I do next.
I allocate about $7 million of that space to resign Miller and Vernon. I allocate another $3 million to try and keep Matthews and/or Shelby. I can afford to let either of these guys walk because I have talent at those positions, but they do provide good depth.
That leaves me with about $25 million to spend in true free agency.
Phase III - Acquire New Talent
My first priority is to shore up the offensive blocking, both in the run and pass game. Here is what I do. I sign Alex Boone to play right guard. I allocate about $4-5 million to do this. I slide Brandon Albert over to left guard and draft a left tackle in a deep tackle class. There are going to be as many as 6 tackles taken in the first round and we can certainly nab one of the top 3 at the 8th pick.
That leaves me with $20 million. I allocate another $3 million to bring back Cameron as the draft does not have good tight end talent and free agency has some young guys, but nothing special. Cameron is the best of the bunch, even with his limited productivity in 2016.
So I have now addressed all of my front line offensive needs. On to defense.
I'm set at defensive line, I'm OK with my outside linebackers, my strong safety and one corner. I still need the MLB (the QB of the defense), another corner and a free safety.
With $17 million left, here is what I do.
Inside linebacker - free agency has some players, but I think this is an instinctual position that doesn't require a big splash in free agency. I look to pick someone up in the 2nd/3rd round of the draft. There will be some players available.
Cornerback - also very deep in the draft. There is a lot of talent between rounds 2-4. The Dolphins could address tackle, linebacker and cornerback in the first three rounds.
Free safety - there are a couple of guys I would pursue in free agency. You have Eric Weddle, Eric Berry, Walter Thurmond and Tashaun Gipson just to mention a few guys. I would allocate about $7 million to address this position as the Dolphins gave up a lot of long plays and free safety play was atrocious.
That should leave at least $10 million to sign rookies.
In summary, I would patch up the existing holes while maintaining existing top talent. I wouldn't break the bank on the biggest name in free agency, but would spend decent amounts on young, top free agent talent.
What do you guys think?
The 6-8 Indianapolis Colts, coming off a crushing 16-10 loss at home to the Houston Texans take on the floundering 5-9 Miami Dolphins, coming off an abysmal 30-14 loss at San Diego. The Colts are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive and need help from the Texans. The Dolphins are just playing out the season, and if you are a Dolphin fan, you are wanting to see the Dolphins get as high a pick as possible, either to use of the trade down to acquire additional picks.
The game is a 1:00 kickoff in Miami on CBS, and it could very well be HC Chuck Pagano next to last game with the Colts, as he is without a doubt on the Hot Seat in Indianapolis. I saw his name linked with Miami in the last few days, and he would be an interesting candidate. He has had success with the Colts, but for him, there is some major friction between him and GM Ryan Grigson. Here is an article from Conor Orr of NFL.com on the situation.
Per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, Pagano will be a hot coaching candidate if he hits the market. The Miami Dolphins, who likely are searching for more than just the next promising coordinator, could be looking outside the box for their opening.
While this would mean that Miami owner Stephen Ross and executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum would both pass over some coaches with Bill Parcells ties -- which would be a fairly significant development -- it shows that Pagano might be more coveted than we think.
This will be Pagano's first season as a head coach in which he did not win 11 games, which is a plateau that more than half of the NFL would sign up for in a heartbeat. The fact that he has clashed with general manager Ryan Grigson in the past and the fact that Andrew Luck has yet to produce a Super Bowl are working against him, as is the fact that his deal will run out at the end of the season.
Per Rapoport, Pagano is still coaching for his job and while signs point to an eventual breakup, it could turn into a situation where the Colts realize the grass is not always greener.
Perhaps Pagano can resist those bucolic afternoons in Boise for just a little longer.