Chris Clemons has played at an above-average level this season, according to Pro Football Focus, but has made few of the game-changing plays that get safeties paid.
As for the offense, if you think that has been bad this season, imagine what it might look like if Brian Hartline, Reggie Bush and Anthony Fasano all walk out the door. Combined, they have accounted for 57 percent of the team’s total yardage and seven of its 18 offensive touchdowns.
All are in the final years of their respective contracts.
Hartline has had the best season of his four-year career, leading the team with 53 catches and 790 yards. But when asked if he feels pressure to finish strong, he demurred.
“Because the people that I’ve been around, the people that know me, it hasn’t been a one-year tryout,” Hartline said. “It’s been a four-year tryout. I haven’t changed.”
A reasonable contract comparison for Hartline is the one given last year to Jordy Nelson — three years at just more than $4 million annually. But Bush is a wild card. Somebody might pay him big money on potential, but concerns over his durability probably will scare away others.
Fasano wouldn’t cost the Dolphins more than a few million dollars per year if they decide to keep him. But he said that it’s too early to think much about that, even if many are counting the Dolphins out at 4-6.
In that way, he sounded a lot like the Dolphins’ coach.
“You have one opportunity [to] shape a 2012 team and that’s it,” coach Joe Philbin said Tuesday. “That’s what you have. What happens beyond that, nobody’s really sure.
“So I’m not really focused one bit on what’s going to go on down the road.”
As for general manger Jeff Ireland, contract negotiator Dawn Aponte and the rest of the Dolphins’ personnel department? That’s a different story.
Miami Herald sportswriter Barry Jackson contributed to this report.