A few Dolphins nuggets on a Wednesday:
• The Dolphins haven’t ruled out keeping linebacker Koa Misi, depending on his recovery from neck surgery and how they address the position in free agency and the draft. According to Misi’s representation, he is expected to be cleared for full-go around May 1 and be ready to play next season.
The Dolphins ideally would like him to be healthy before making a decision, unless the need to create cap space should dictate otherwise.
He has a $4.7 million cap hit if he’s on the team, $578,000 if he’s not.
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The Dolphins intend to keep restricted free agent Kiko Alonso but hadn’t broached a longterm contract as of last week. (That certainly could change at any point.) And check out Armando’s blog for information on what position he wants to play.
• The Dolphins know they need at least two linebackers and it’s a weak free agent class of 4-3 outside linebackers.
The group of inside linebackers is slightly better, led by New England’s Dont’a Hightower (bidding is expected to start at more than $10 million), Buffalo’s Zach Brown (147 tackles last season), Arizona’s Kevin Winter, San Francisco’s Gerald Hodges, Carolina’s AJ Klein (Luke Kuechley’s well-regarded backup), Pittsburgh’s Lawrence Timmons (114 tackles) and Oakland’s Malcolm Smith (104 tackles) and Perry Riley (11 starts).
Among part-time starters available: Arizona’s Sio Moore, the Giants’ Keenan Robinson, Tennesee’s Sean Spence (the former Cane visited the Dolphins last spring and had three sacks and 37 tackles and made six starts for the Titans), San Francisco’s Nick Bellore and Michael Wilhoite.
Pro Football Focus lists Hightower, Brown, Hodges, Riley and Minter as its five best free-agent linebackers, in that order.
PFF’s next five include mostly backups: Moore, Bellore, the Dolphins’ Spencer Paysinger, the Jets’ Bruce Carter and the Vikings’ Audie Cole.
Here’s that PFF piece on the 10 best free agent linebackers.
PFF’s list doesn’t include edge rushers Nick Perry, DeMarcus Ware and Julius Peppers, who have experience playing both end and linebacker.
The Dolphins are open to moving Alonso to weakside linebacker if they sign a middle linebacker.
• Got my hands on Cam Wake’s new Dolphins contract.
For 2017, he will earn a base salary of $6.87 million, with all of it guaranteed. He also gets a renegotiated signing bonus of $1 million and a workout bonus of $125,000. His cap hit will be $7.5 million with a cash value of $8 million.
For 2018, he will earn an $8 million base salary, with $3 million of that guaranteed. He also gets another $125,000 workout bonus. That 2018 season has a cash value of $8.125 million and a cap hit of $8.625 million.
Here’s a look at the Dolphins’ free agent options in their search for defensive ends.