Well here we go it’s March and free agency is upon us. Teams are getting positioned to make big splashes and get their salary cap in order. The Miami Dolphins are no different than any team. Last week before it was announced the Dolphins were releasing Andre Branch, Danny Amendola, and Ted Larsen, the team had less than 10 million in cap space and was in one of the worst salary cap situations in the league. With the Dolphins in a full rebuild mode, they should sit out free agency and let teams over pay on players they might not get a return on their investment. This free agency season, I don’t see any must have players on the market. In fact, it’s probably one of the weakest free agent classes in years, but still teams are going to over pay for average players.
Last month I was reading an article in the Sun Sentinel from Dave Hyde, in which he had an interview with Jimmy Johnson about the Dolphins direction and being in a full rebuild mode. Johnson made a great point when he said the first thing the team has to do is get their salary cap in shape. When he took over the Dolphins in 1996, the team was way over the salary cap, and they couldn’t do anything in free agency for a couple of year. In the process, the team lost some good players like Bryan Cox, Marco Coleman, Troy Vincent, and Irving Fryar. Those players were in the prime of their careers and the Dolphins couldn’t keep them because of their bad finance management from the previous seasons. Back then the salary cap was in its infancy stage and teams were just learning about the salary cap because it was new and so was free agency. It’s been over 20 years since and the salary cap has grown just as players’ salaries and revenues for all teams, but the concepts are still the same. It’s hard to get rid of players when you give them big contract because of the dead money tied up against the cap and depending on the year it can be hard to sign your own players and free agents as well. Sometimes you have to wait it out and go after players when the market dries up and you can get a player for a cheaper deal. That’s what the Dolphins should do.
One thing Johnson did say is that the Dolphins have been spending a lot of money on average to good players and not great players. He’s right about that. The Dolphins the last 10 years have shelled out big contract in free agency to players like Mike Wallace, Phillip Wheeler, Dannell Elerbe, Brandon Albert, and Ndamukong Suh and what have they gotten in return on their investment? Nothing just average play and money tied up against the cap. The Dolphins have also gone after players that are well past their prime or injury prone players such as Lawrence Timmons, Joey Porter, Amendola, Josh Sitton, Julius Thomas, and Jordan Cameron. Stop paying top dollar for guys past their prime and injury prone.
The team has also made trades for players and taken on their big contracts as well as miss managed the market for their own players. Last year they took on Robert Quinn and his big contract. A couple of years ago when they traded with the Philadelphia Eagles, they took on Byron Maxwell’s contract of over 60 million. Both players gave the team nothing in return. The Dolphins will cut Quinn in the coming days and Maxwell only last a season with the team. The Dolphins over the last 4 years have also mismanaged the contracts of their own players, such as giving Ryan Tannehill his big contract before his rookie deal was up and then restructuring it pushing money into future years. The Dolphins also gave safety Reshad Jones a new deal after the 2016 season when he still had another year left on his old deal and was coming off a season in which he missed have the season because of a torn rotator cuff. The Dolphins in 2017 signed TJ McDonald to a 1-year contract knowing he would missed the first 8 games of the season due to a suspension and for some reason gave him an extension before his suspension started. There are other examples, but those are the most glaring.
The Dolphins must get their cap under control and not continue their egregious spending taking on bad contracts. The Dolphins need to get rid of a lot of players that aren’t going to be here for the long term of this rebuilding process and try to get some assets in return so the Dolphins can build through the draft. They must stop trying to be the biggest spenders in free agency it just hasn’t worked out for the team and they haven’t produced a consistent winner on the field. The Dolphins need to commit and be discipline with fixing their salary cap and spending habits on players.