The Miami Dolphins have key players hitting free agency this offseason in Lamar Miller, Rishard Matthews and Olivier Vernon. The team has a tight cap situation and there is a chance all three could be with different teams next season.
Miller is the most important player of the three hitting free agency and Miami likely will have to pay a high price to keep him in South Beach. Miller has spent his college and professional career in Miami and is reportedly interested in returning, but the Dolphins may have to make some moves before that can happen. According to Omar Kelly at the Sun-Sentinel, Miami has over $155 million committed to players for next season and with the salary cap expected to be around that number, the team must make some cuts to free up space.
Miller is the top running back hitting the market this offseason and that means a number of teams likely will target him in free agency. All of that means that Miller could cash in and that could put Miami in a tough spot as they try and re-sign him. James Walker at ESPN reports that Miller said he is interested in a return, but that "scheme and fit" will be important factors in wherever he signs this offseason. Adam Gase is taking over as head coach and how Miller feels about the new offense could determine if he stays in Miami.
Miller was reportedly frustrated with his use last season on offense and that could play into his decision this offseason. Miller is just 24 and he does not have as much wear and tear on his body as other running backs his age. Miller has only put up over 200 carries once in his career and that could be a factor in the types of offers he gets this offseason.
According to the Miami Herald, the Dolphins may look at restructuring Ndamukong Suh's contract this offseason, as that could help free up nearly $18 million in cap space. The team has the option of turning his base salary into a signing bonus, which could help lower the cap charge of over $25 million for the defensive tackle. Freeing up that money could help the team attempt top sign back Miller and other free agents.
Matthews is unlikely to return, as the team has DeVante Parker coming back for year two and they likely will give him a chance to be the number two or three receiver. Vernon has been a consistent player for the Dolphins over his career, but he may also be too expensive to keep. The Palm Beach Post writes that Vernon is the "number 1 priority" for the Dolphins and that the team will try to lock him up. The Post also writes that they do not think that Jennings will be back with the team next season after putting up just 19 catches in 2015.