Barry Jackson

Dolphins using 2016 decisions to their advantage now

from left- Chris Grier, Miami Dolphins General Manager and Mike Tannenbaum, Executive Vice President, Football Operations, talk during a pre-draft press conference at Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Fri., April 22, 2016.
from left- Chris Grier, Miami Dolphins General Manager and Mike Tannenbaum, Executive Vice President, Football Operations, talk during a pre-draft press conference at Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Fri., April 22, 2016. pportal@miamiherald.com

Remember how some critics blasted the Dolphins last spring for not re-signing Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller?

“Sometimes, when 70,000 people think you are wrong, you might be wrong,” ESPN analyst and former Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik said at the time. “The hard part for me is they let two young, really talented players out of an organization.”

The Miller decision was justified, in retrospect, because Jay Ajayi was more productive last season. And while Vernon is a very good player, Andre Branch was better than serviceable for a far cheaper cost.

So why are we bringing this up now?

Because those decisions, Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum strongly implied, have been critical to what the Dolphins have been able to achieve this offseason.

“Some of the decisions last year, where we lost a couple good players, allowed us to keep some of the players this year,” Tannenbaum told Jeremy Marks Peltz on the Dolphins executive’s weekly segment on ESPN Radio West Palm Beach.

Now that we (and the folks at Pro Football Focus) have gotten our hands on the new Dolphins’ players contracts, it’s clear how much the Dolphins’ cap has been helped by tough decisions last offseason.

Consider this: If the Dolphins had given Vernon and Miller and Derrick Shelby and Rishard Matthews exactly what their new teams gave them (Giants, Texans, Falcons and Titans, in order) and structured the contracts in an identical way, they would have a combined cap charge of $33 million this upcoming season.

Now look at the 2017 cap charges of the players the Dolphins have re-signed, signed or acquired this offseason: Julius Thomas ($7.1 million), Andre Branch ($5 million), William Hayes ($4.75 million), Kenny Stills ($3.7 million), Anthony Fasano ($2.75 million), Lawrence Timmons ($3.775 million) and Nate Allen ($3.4 million) and Ted Larsen ($1.4 million).

Those eight contracts add up to a cap hit of $31.9 million - less than the $33 million for the four aforementioned players.

Yes, the four players who left the Dolphins are good players; let’s be clear about that. And the Dolphins could have structured Vernon’s contract in a way to make his cap charge less onerous for them than it will be for the Giants ($16 million this year).

But that eight-for-four trade would be one the Dolphins would make any day, even more so considering the Dolphins parlayed last year’s four free agent losses into three compensatory draft picks: at the end of the third round and two at the end of the fifth.

Couple other things as Dontari Poe continues his Dolphins visit at this hour:

• According to copies of the contracts that I obtained, Fasano will make $1.5 million in base salary and a $1.25 million signing bonus.

Timmons’ contract calls for a $5.5 million signing bonus, a guaranteed $1 million in base salary this season and a $5.45 million base salary in 2018, of which $4.5 million is guaranteed. He also has a $25,000 workout bonus both years.

• An associate of Jermon Bushrod expressed optimism Monday about a deal getting done with the Dolphins.

Please click here for a lot of newsy Heat notes in my post today, including something this Heat team is doing that the Big Three Heat didn’t.

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