The Dolphins will have ample cap space and also are poised to add at least two draft picks, even though they’re also losing two picks because of a trade last May. We detail all of that here.
In the meantime, here’s a position-by-position look at where Miami stands:
▪ Quarterback: The Dolphins are set, with Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore under contract. Tannehill’s salary rises to s17.9 million and his cap hit to $20.3 million. Moore is scheduled to make $1.75 million, reasonable for a quality backup.
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Brandon Doughty, who spent most of the season on the practice squad, will have another chance to stick as a No. 3.
▪ Running back: The Dolphins are set here, with Jay Ajayi under contract at $615,000 for 2017, and Kenyan Drake at $595,000. The Dolphins are expected to keep Damien Williams, a restricted free agent who had six touchdowns this season.
▪ Wide receiver: The Dolphins are expected to make every effort to keep free-agent Kenny Stills, who caught nine touchdowns and finished third in the league in average yards per catch (17.3). But if the bidding goes too high, Miami could move on.
The Dolphins likely will offer an extension to Jarvis Landry, who’s entering the last year of his contract. DeVante Parker is back on a reasonable rookie contract ($1.4 million next season).
Carroo and Jakeem Grant must earn jobs in training camp, with Carroo a mild disappointment and Grant at risk if he cannot curtail his fumbling issues on returns.
▪ Offensive line: Branden Albert, Laremy Tunsil, Mike Pouncey and Ja’Wuan James are under contract, but the question is whether Miami might ask Albert to take a pay cut from $8.9 million to lower his $10.6 million cap hit. Though Tunsil is the team’s left tackle of the future and Albert has done terrific work mentoring him, Albert said earlier this season that the notion of shifting to guard at this point of his career is unappealing.
Sam Young, who was inactive Sunday, recently was signed to a 2017 contract. Bushrod is a free agent and seems unlikely to return. Kraig Urbik, who started the final four games at center, is under contract for next season and due $1.2 million.
Pouncey, one of the most critical players on offense, said he expects to be fully healed from his hip injury well before the offseason program.
▪ Tight end: The Dolphins will try to keep unrestricted free agent Dion Sims and might add another veteran or draft pick, with UM’s David Nkoju also those likely to draw close inspection from Dolphins officials.
MarQueis Gray signed a two-year deal recently and is expected to return as the No. 3 tight end, if not No. 2. Jordan Cameron assuredly won’t be back.
▪ Defensive line: Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake and likely Jordan Phillips will return, but everything else is in question.
For starters, the Dolphins must decide how much to bid for Andre Branch, who injected energy when he became a starter in Week 6 but was uneven in setting the edge against the run.
Mario Williams and recently-released Jason Jones won’t be back, and Dion Jordan won’t be either, according to a Miami Herald report. So at least two defensive ends will be added even if Branch is re-signed.
The Dolphins also likely will explore potential starting defensive tackle options. Earl Mitchell, a high-effort player, struggled against the run at times and is at risk of being a cap casualty. Phillips remains the epitome of inconsistency but had enough good moments to remain in the rotation next season.
▪ Linebacker: Miami plans to keep Kiko Alonso, who will receive a high tender as a restricted free agent. Jelani Jenkins is a free agent and won’t be retained as a starter, if at all. Miami also is expected to move on from Koa Misi, coming off neck surgery, though Misi fully intends to play next season.
Though defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Neville Hewitt could develop into a starting linebacker, the Dolphins are expected to try to add two starters this offseason. Donald Butler and Spencer Paysinger are free agents, with Butler unlikely to return.
▪ Secondary: This unit should have stability, with starters Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard, Reshad Jones and Isa Abdul-Quddus all under contract for 2017. Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain are on cheap rookie deals for next season and Michael Thomas is a restricted free agent. Bacarri Rambo, who struggled in recent weeks, is the only unrestricted free agent among the top eight players in the defensive backfield.