The Miami Dolphins have key players hitting free agency this offseason, including Lamar Miller, Rishard Matthews and Olivier Vernon and it could be tough to keep all three heading into 2016. The Dolphins reportedly will try to restructure Ndamukong Suh's contract this winter and that could help free up money for free agency.
The Dolphins are coming into 2016 after a disappointing season and now Adam Gase takes over as the new head coach and will try and turn things around for the franchise. Gase and the front office have some important decisions to make heading into the winter, as the team has a high amount of money committed to players already for next season and may have to make some cuts to be able to keep Miller and other free agents.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Miami currently has $156 million "committed to 41 players signed to contracts in 2016" and with the salary cap expected to come in around that number, the team will be forced to make some moves. Omar Kelly put together the list and some of the players listed that could be potential cuts include Greg Jennings, Cameron Wake, Jordan Cameron, Quinton Coples, Brent Grimes, Branden Albert and Dion Jordan.
Kelly writes that the team could end up getting around $30-$40 million in cleared cap space if they make cuts and that could help Miami keep some free agents in-house. Miller is the top player among the group that is hitting free agency and he will be the main priority for Miami as they try and bounce back in 2016.
Miller is likely going to be a top target on the market for teams in need of running backs and that could push him out of the price range for Miami. Miller is still relatively young and while he is interested in coming back to Miami, other teams could throw money at him to convince him to leave. According to ESPN, James Walker reports that "scheme and fit" will be important factors for Miller as he decides where to sign for next season.
Matthews had a solid season after nearly being released in the offseason and he stepped up with Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and DeVante Parker having disappointing years. If the Dolphins release Jennings this offseason, expect them to try and retain Matthews on a short-term deal. Vernon's situation is going to be interesting to watch, as he is just 25 and could be looking for big money. The Miami Herald reported last summer that Vernon could look for "Cameron Jordan money," which would be a contract around $50 million.
That price tag could be a bit high for the team, but Miami has Cameron Wake coming off of an Achilles injury and could be released, meaning the Dolphins will need to replace that production on the d-line. Vernon has been a consistent player for the team over the past few years and Miami likely will at least try and get him back on a new deal. One thing that could help is if the team restructures Suh's contract, which Mike Tannenbaum said they would consider, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.