Jeff Ireland was careful not to add to the Miami Dolphins’ skyrocketing expectations Friday. But he didn’t exact tamp them down, either.
“We’re excited where we’re at right now,” the team’s general manager said before teeing off at the team’s charity golf tournament at Turnberry Isle in Aventura. “We’re just names on paper right now until we start jelling as a football team. [But] we’re excited the players we added.”
Ireland didn’t talk playoffs, like Mike Pouncey and Ryan Tannehill did early this week, saying only that winning the division is the team’s goal every season.
But he couldn’t deny the blast of enthusiasm in Miami, after the team’s free agency spending spree and its aggressive move up to nab pass-rusher Dion Jordan with the draft’s third pick.
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“We got players we wanted,” Ireland said. “What’s great to hear is that players wanted us too. I think that’s the most important aspect of what we’ve accomplished this year.
“This is a place where people want to play.”
And he’s not done bringing them in. Ireland will continue to “tweak” the back end of the roster between now and the start of the season in early September.
In the last week alone, the Dolphins have added depth and competition at quarterback (Aaron Corp), receiver (Marvin McNutt) and fullback (Rupert Bryan).
Even with their big-spending spring, the Dolphins are still about $8 million under the cap, with another $10 million freeing up once Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett come off the books June 1. Much of that they’ll be able to carry over into 2014, when many of the huge new contracts are set to balloon.
“It won’t be what it was this year, but we’ll still have cap ability next year to do some things,” Ireland said. “We’re in pretty good shape. We knew we were going to spend this year. We knew that was going to have ramifications on next year and the year after that. But we’ve designed our cap, going into the following year with a plan.”
The Dolphins will be in good shape in 2014, in large part, because Tannehill will still be playing under his rookie contract. Quarterbacks usually are the biggest cap hits for each team, but NFL rules don’t allow players to renegotiate new deals until after their third season.
Other takeaways from Ireland’s media availability:
• Ireland on the commitment Tannehill has shown to improve over his rookie season: “That’s what we expected when we drafted him. He’s a pro. He’s got to be an expert at what he does, and that’s being a quarterback in the National Football League.”
• On his impressions of the rookie class: “Great group of guys that love playing football, that love being around the process of getting faster and stronger. … All of these guys right now are embracing the opportunities to be around pros and become pros.”
• On the annual FinsWeekend, which benefits the Miami Dolphins Foundation: “This is a fantastic event. It’s sort of grown since I’ve been here, combining the golf and the fishing into one great weekend. It’s great for the charities we’re trying to fund.”
Elsewhere, rookie Dion Sims, the 106th pick of April’s draft, has signed with the Dolphins. It is believed the deal is worth roughly $2.6 million over four years.