Barry Jackson

Dolphins sign Fitzpatrick, other picks. Here's their plan for the rest of their new cap space.

The Dolphins on Friday get $17 million in cap space resulting the March release of Ndamukong Suh, who now plays for the Los Angeles Rams.
The Dolphins on Friday get $17 million in cap space resulting the March release of Ndamukong Suh, who now plays for the Los Angeles Rams.

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Friday:

A treasure trove of cap space arrived for the Dolphins on Friday, and Miami began using it immediately to sign their draft class, including first-rounder Minkah Fitzpatrick, who agreed to terms Friday.

Fitzpatrick agreed to a four-year, $16.4 million contract, according to a source.

With much of the dead money on Ndamukong Suh’s contract coming off the team’s books Friday, Miami went from having $311,556 in cap space to just more than $17 million in space.

The Dolphins need $7.6 million of that money to sign a draft class.

Beyond Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins also agreed to terms on Friday with sixth-round cornerback Cornell Armstrong, seventh-round linebacker Quentin Poling and seventh-round kicker Jason Sanders.

The Dolphins will need another $2 million or so to sign a practice squad.

The $7.5 million or so left will be used on contract extensions or put aside to use if injury or poor performance creates a personnel need that must be addressed during the next seven months.

If that money isn’t touched, it will be carried over to next spring. And the Dolphins might need that money next spring. Here's why:

At the moment, projects the Dolphins to have $15 million in cap space next offseason, but more will be needed to address needs and re-sign impending free agents they want to keep (including Bobby McCain) and free agents they might want to keep (Cam Wake, Jordan Phillips, Ja’Wuan James). UPDATE: McCain agreed to a four-year, $27 million extension Friday afternoon.

The Dolphins have been so impressed with new receiver Albert Wilson that they have decided he can be lined up not only in the slot, but also on the boundary and in the backfield.

“When we looked at Albert on film, we were intrigued, obviously with the speed," newly promoted receivers coach Ben Johnson said Thursday. "We were intrigued with the run-after-catch ability. I think all of that has been there. It’s been impressive to me to see him come in, pick up this system and learn these fundamentals that he wasn’t really doing the same thing in Kansas City. He’s really done a nice job the past two weeks. It’s really triggered us to say he’s not limited in the slot, he’s not limited outside. He can line up in the backfield. He can do so many different things for us. His versatility is really, really showing up.”

The Dolphins ran their two-minute offense extensively for the first time this offseason on Thursday and Ryan Tannehill looked good, according to quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree.

“He’s looking great in practice,” Hardegree said. “He was moving around today [Thursday] in two-minute drill, which was our first day. He was making some plays, unscheduled plays like we expect him to do, an athletic quarterback. He’s looking good.”

Hardegree’s assessment of the top backup quarterback candidates (David Fales and Brock Osweiler): Fales “does a really good job of getting the ball out fast because he is a very smart person….

“I knew Brock at Denver when I was there. Obviously he’s been at a couple of different places since then. We’re doing some things mechanically with him to kind of make everything consistent, which he’s doing a really good job. I think he’s throwing the ball really well. He’s a very good communicator.”

That communication element will be weighed heavily in selecting a backup. Here’s why:

“They have to be able to get all 10 other guys on the same page,” Hardegree said. “That’s what you look for is communication. It’s a big part because we’re no huddle. How do they operate? How do they get in and out of plays? The big thing we talk about is we have to learn how to be able to not lose before we can win, and be able to save those plays and get us to a check down. Those are big things that I look for and we do as a staff.”

Couple of encouraging stats from Pro Football Focus reflecting how two of the Dolphins’ key young players fared late last season:

Phillips ranked in the top 12 for pass-rush grade among all interior defenders from Weeks 11-17, producing 16 total pressures and three batted passes.

Whereas Xavien Howard allowed a passer rating of 96.0 when targeted in Weeks 1-9, he permitted just a 39.2 rating from Weeks 10-17 last season

Really liked how Raekwon McMillan answered one question during his recent news conference.

Here was the question: “Obviously you’re a young man and an inexperienced player, but you’re going to be right in the middle of things. So how, as a young man with not a lot of game experience, do you be a leader? How do you do that?”

Here was his answer:“It all comes with confidence and knowing what I’m doing, being able to tell guys what they’re doing around me, and when they ask, have a definite answer, not like ‘Oh, I don’t know. Let me go ask coach.’ When they come to me as the Mike linebacker, I need to know. A leader isn’t just a title that you get because you’re the Mike linebacker. Leader is a title that you get because you put in the work day in and day out during the offseason and leading up until now.”

We’ll see this year how good McMillan is on the field. But off the field, all indications are that he’s a worker, mature and grounded.

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