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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Three on the bubble

The Dolphins have handled their salary cap exceedingly well the last couple of years so they don't have to make any roster moves prior to the start of the league year in March to get under the cap.

But that doesn't mean they won't make moves for football, rather than financial reasons.

Three players with relatively high cap numbers or coming roster bonuses will, in all likelihood, either have to take a pay cut or be cut by the Dolphins in the coming weeks. Among those players are guard Seth McKinney, defensive end Kevin Carter and quarterback Joey Harrington.

Harrington, as you've read here in the past, has a $1 million roster bonus coming in March that the Dolphins simply are not going to pay. His play in 2006 simply does not warrant the team paying him that kind of bonus or carrying the $3.48 million cap figure that would bring for 2007.

So he must either restructure with a pay cut, or he's gone.

McKinney, on injured reserve all of 2006, also has a roster bonus coming due next month. With Bennie Anderson and Joe Toledo already on the roster as well as Jeno James and Rex Hadnot, the Dolphins already have a large contingent of interior linemen. So they will not guarantee McKinney any roster bonus monies that will drive up his cap number to the scheduled $4 million mark.

McKinney is a great guy and has been a fine player for Miami. But his bonus and the fact he was hurt all of last year will conspire to get him cut.

Another cut to watch is Kevin Carter. He's a team leader, a great guy for the media, and did OK on the field in 2006. But he has a whopping $6.48 million cap number for 2007. Soo.


Carter told me at the end of the season that he would be quite willing to restructure his contract to relieve the Dolphins cap situation. But he added that he probably wasn't going to take a pay cut per se.

The problem is the Dolphins aren't looking at him because of his huge cap number (although it doesn't help). They're looking at him because he really didn't play at the level they expected in 2006. His 5 1/2 sacks were nice, but not $6.48 million nice.

In a year that Buffalo, New England and the New York Jets all have more cap space than Miami, the Dolphins cannot afford to carry that figure on the books for a good, but not great player.

Your thoughts?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Leonard Davis worth it in free agency?

Leonard Davis is about to become a very rich young man because he seemingly has it all.

He plays the left tackle position which is highly valued in the NFL. He has started 91 games and stayed healthy since the Cardinals made him the second overall pick in the 2001 draft. And he's the best player available at his position in free agency.

But that doesn't answer this question: Is he worth a huge investment for the Dolphins?

Obviously the Dolphins need a starting caliber LT and Davis would be an upgrade at the position over what has been there the last half-dozen years or so. But that still doesn't answer the question.

That's because Davis will want, and probably get, a contract with $10-$15 million in guaranteed money when free agency opens in a couple of weeks. And that is a lot of cash for someone who was OK but never great in Arizona.

Understand that the Cardinals know Davis better than any other team. They've seen everything from his practice habits to eating habits and have decided they don't want to keep him. Apparently, the Cards decided, Davis isn't worth the investment of tagging as a franchise player.

That's because the guy is not a star and it would cost $11 million in guaranteed salary to tag him.

"When we evaluated Leonard, we certainly see ability and ... improvement, especially as last season went on," new Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said in a statement. "But when you look at the situation on the whole and take everything into account, we don't feel that the investment that would be required to keep him is equal to the performance."


So if the Cardinals, the team that knows Davis best, the team with plenty of cap room, decided not to invest heavily in Davis, why should the Dolphins? Why should Miami pay more in guarantees than the Cardinals are willing to pay in a franchise tag?

Miami made that kind of mistake on a smaller scale last year -- signing Arizona and Cleveland castoff L.J. Shelton to a tidy deal when, really, no one else was clamoring to get him. Shelton failed to meet expectations at the left tackle position and now is a highly paid guard.

Those who say line coach Hudson Houck would be able to inspire a renaissance in Davis said the same thing about Shelton last year. It could happen, but that is not certain, as the Shelton situation proved. And the Dolphins, with the least cap room of any AFC East team, are in no position to make a huge $10-$15 million gamble.

Nope, the Dolphins have so many other needs that investing soooo much on this one position in free agency doesn't really make a ton of sense. They need a LT, yes, but they need one that is more likely to cause headaches for his opponents than Miami's salary cap.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Live chat today (Thurs) 11:30 to 12:30

I will answer your questions. I will hang out with you. I will do what I can to entertain you for one hour today.

Let's see how it goes and depending on the response, we'll either do it again in the future or call this one of the dumbest ideas I've ever had.

So start posting at 11:30 a.m. (unbeknownst to your employers, of course) and I'll be right here to talk back for 60 minutes.

Monday, February 12, 2007

As Pat Robertson would say, bring it on

Folks, I've gotten a couple of complaints about The Herald's question and answer section. I understand everyone's frustration but there are reasons why your questions have not been answered in that format.

To relieve that frustration, you can post any Dolphins questions here this week and I'll come back with prompt replies.


By the way, I have question for you. If I scheduled a chat on here for, say, Thursday from 1-2 pm, would that be something many of you would like to do? Let me know.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Quinn to Dolphins? Think again

Let me admit one thing right now: I am not up to speed on the draft yet.

It's two months away and I happen to have a life. So I don't know what JaMarcus Russell runs in the 40 or have an opinion on how quick Joe Thomas's feet are -- I do know, however, they are the size of a loaf of bread.

But I digress.

The one thing I definitely know is that all this talk I'm hearing lately about Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn being available at No. 9 when the Dolphins pick in two months is sheer lunacy. I know, I know, Mel Kiper recently wrote that Quinn would likely drop to the Dolphins at No. 9.

But guess what?

Just because my friend Mel speculated it might happen, won't make it so. And I hate to burst your bubble, Dolfans, but it won't happen. Just like Vince Young didn't drop to the Dolphins last year, Quinn won't this year.

How do I know? Well, it's not about what Quinn brings to the table or what his flaws are. It's about the draft order ahead of the Dolphins. Has anyone taken one second to look at the teams picking ahead of Miami?

Well, the Raiders pick first. They need a quarterback.

The Lions pick second. They need a quarterback.

The Browns pick third. They need a quarterback.

The Redskins pick sixth. They need a quarterback.

The Vikings pick seventh. And, yes, they need a quarterback.

Of course, anything can happen between now and draft day. Maybe Quinn will flop miserably during the Indy Combine (I doubt it). Maybe Randy Mueller is the greatest tactician since Patton (Possible) and he can somehow maneuver the Dolphins into the top five without giving away half his picks (Impossible).

But barring those unforeseen circumstances, don't bet on Brady Quinn being there when the Dolphins make their selection. Quarterbacks are the draft's most valuable commodity and they go fast, especially when they've played in a pro-style offense in college, which Quinn did.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

QB Miami's biggest problem ... still

Ten years after Dan Marino stopped being effective, four years after the Jay Fiedler experiment failed, a lifetime (seemingly) since the Dolphins had a quarterback that other teams feared, the team is still looking for a quarterback.

New coach Cam Cameron said Friday the quarterback spot is the most important on his roster and that's good because the Dolphins need a coach that recognizes that fact after Dave Wannstedt and Nick Saban apparently didn't.

But the bad news is Cameron isn't sure any of the current group -- Culpepper, Lemon, Harrington -- is the player to relieve the concerns we all have about the position.

Let me make this clear: Harrington is not the one. His $3.48 million cap number practically guarantees he will either be traded or cut before the team pays him the $1 million roster bonus he is due later this offseason.

Having said that, there is also no guarantee it will be Culpepper, who still isn't 100 percent recovered from his multiple knee surgeries, or Lemon, who still is a wild card with little experience.

So what this tells me, actually it screams at me, is that the Dolphins will go quarterback shopping this offseason. Again. They will either draft someone, although not necessarily in the first round, or they will sign someone in free agency. Don't ask me who is available, I'm eyebrows-deep in Super Bowl coverage now.

Based on what Cameron said Friday, there's also likely to be a QB competition, which is a good thing. What the hay, if Culpepper really is recovered at some point, let him prove it. What the hay, if Lemon is as good as he says and some think, let him prove it.

My prediction is that when all said and done, the Dolphins are likely to go into the 2007 season with Culpepper as their starter, Lemon as the backup, and a young quarterback being groomed as the No. 3.

What will be interesting to see is how quickly Culpepper can recover from his physical problems while, quite importantly, he learns Cameron's system. Lemon pretty much knows that system so he has an advantage. But learning the new system will test Culpepper's ability to study and learn, a part of his game which he's been criticized for in the past.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Your chance to ask Cameron questions

You can ask Dolphins coach Cam Cameron some questions Friday. How? Post them here before noon Friday and I will pick the best ones and ask them.

Cameron will be at the Super Bowl media center Friday.

Personally, I'd like to know if those rumors about him thinking Cleo Lemon is Miami's starter are really true.