With Free Agency only weeks away, our teams will be implementing step one of the yearly replenishing process. Many players are re-signed, many are happily escorted out of the building, never to come back. This is the time of year when one team’s garbage becomes another’s prize. Free agency is certainly not how you build a team for long lasting supremacy, but it is a necessary evil that helps the so important balance of experience meshed with youth.
We begin looking at the Bills and Dolphins, next week we explore the Patriots and Jets.
I have been a little removed this week, if some of these moves have happened, I apologize ahead of time.
The Bills do not have a lot of CAP room, yet. They are letting two-fifths of the OL test the market, Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito. On defense the departure of Mario and his crazy CAP number, has been advertised since before the end of the season. Mario’s contract for 2016 is for $19.9M. Cutting him would free up $12.9M and create $7M in dead money. Nigel Bradham is also hitting the open market.
Other roster decisions will need to be made as Stephone Gilmore is due to make $11.82M in his fifth year deal. I’m sure the Bills would like to lower that hit by extending him to a longer contract. Tyrod Taylor had a much better season than even Bills management expected. He is on the books for $3.1M this season, relatively low for a starting QB. One has to wonder if the team will try to extend him now or wait for another year. The downside is if Taylor has a better year than he had in 2015, the price tag will jump into the $15-20M per range, right now it may get done for half that amount.
Bills will need to re-sign the left side of their OL and continue to improve the OL overall. With Mario surely gone, Rex will revert back to his preferred 3-4, but the Bills do not have a MLB capable of playing in the “Mike” role, one will be needed. If Nigel Bradham cannot be resigned the Bills may need two LBs.
The Miami Dolphins have around $8.6M to spend, if the CAP is set at $155M. Releasing Quinton Coples freed up a good portion of that. Many more veterans may get released, Greg Jennings ($5.5M would save $4M in CAP). Brent Grimes ($9.5M would save $6.5M in CAP). These moves would add $10.5M to the available money, but it simply will not be enough to revamp the roster. Ndamukong Suh may become the focal point yet again, as he surely will be asked to restructure his mammoth contract. Suh is slated to make $28.6M this year. He could be given a huge portion of the money up front in the form of a signing bonus. The Dolphins can lower the CAP hit this year, but increase it in the remaining years. This method works well for immediate help, but it can be disastrous in the future. For example next season he is due to make $15.1M and $22 in 2018; those numbers can be inflated by say $8-10M, lowering this year’s hit by $16-20. However, Ryan Tannehill’s CAP number increase by $9M in 2017. Dolphins have some thinking here.
Also testing the market will be Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon. In my opinion, both should be re-signed, as they are too important to the structure of the team. Vernon may very well be franchised at $15.5M. Lamar Miller had a down season, I just wonder how much of that has to do with the inept offense and below par OL. Miller is young and many of the RBs on the market are not. If he is available March 9th, it becomes very hard for the Dolphins to re-sign him.
The Dolphins have many needs, and new HC Gase will want to have his own stamp on this team. My guess is that many more players will be cut, since they may not fit the program. CBs, probably two starters will be needed. LBs, because this has been the weak point for years. RB, if Lamar walks. OL, its time for the Dolphins to really restructure this unit, totally, again. WR, because Matthews maybe very hard to re-sign, and Stills was a waste of a trade and has not impressed anyone.