Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dolphins Odds & Ends...Upcoming Miami Dolphins Spotlight Schedule

Well the Dolphins' miracle season came to a heart-breaking end today with a 27-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

As exciting as the run was and as hopeful as we all were after a playoff berth, I think it's important for everyone to remember just how great season it was for the Dolphins regardless of how it ended. Coming off a 1-15 year, no one could have (realistically) predicted this and to do what they did in a one-year span is phenomenal. As far as I'm concerned, the season was already a success by midseason and everything after was just a bonus.

Now that the offseason has begun for the Dolphins, I thought it would be a good time to provide some random notes on what's in store for the team this offseason:

Parcells staying or going?

There have been quite a few rumors lately about Parcells exercising an escape clause in his contract in the event owner Wayne Huizenga sells the team to Stephen Ross. Should Parcells exercise the clause within 30 days of the sale, he will receive the full $12 million remaining on his contract and will also be able to take another job, be it front office or coaching, with any other franchise.

According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Huizenga and Ross both said today that Parcells will remain with the Dolphins in 2009. As reassuring as it is, it's important to keep in mind that you can't take their word for it because the decision ultimately lies with Parcells and we can't know for certain what he might do. We won't know for sure until those 30 days pass.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that I definitely hope Parcells decides to stay. The biggest thing about Parcells leaving wouldn't even be the departure itself, but rather the threat that he might try to pry away the coaches and players he's brought to Miami just as he's done here. If Parcells goes and starts to take key people with him, this franchise could be back at square one. If Parcells moves on in a year or two (which is almost a lock given his nomadic history) but leaves the structure he built (Ireland, Sparano, etc.) intact, then we should continue to operate with a high level of success.

There have also been rumors than former Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson is buddies with Stephen Ross and that if Parcells were to leave at some point, Peterson might be heading to Miami. If Peterson becomes Miami's GM I'm going to shoot myself in the face.

2009 free agents

You can be sure I'll address all this in greater detail later in the offseason, but for now here's a list of Dolphins players with expiring contracts in the 2009 offseason:

Unrestricted free agents (four or more accrued seasons):
  • SS Yeremiah Bell
  • OT Vernon Carey
  • LB Channing Crowder
  • CB Andre' Goodman
  • FS Renaldo Hill
  • C Al Johnson
  • WR Tab Perry
  • LB Derek Smith
Restricted free agents (three accrued seasons):
  • None
Exclusive-rights free agents (zero to two accrued seasons):
  • TE Aaron Halterman
  • WR Brandon London
  • LB Quentin Moses
  • G Ike Ndukwe
Just a bit of a refresher:
  • Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) become full free agents when free agency begins on Feb. 27 and can sign with any team at any time after that point. Miami has no rights to them after that date and cannot block any move.
  • Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) must be tendered one-year offers by the Dolphins prior to free agency. The amount of the offer corresponds to a set compensation amount, meaning if another team signs a restricted free agent, the original team has the right to match the offer and retain the player. Should the original team choose not to match, they will receive the draft pick compensation determined by their tender offer amount.
  • Exclusive-Rights Free Agents (ERFAs) must be tendered one-year offers by the Dolphins prior to free agency.Unlike RFAs however, if tendered they cannot be signed by any team. Essentially, they have NO rights to sign elsewhere and must re-sign with their original team or not play football at all.
  • If RFAs and ERFAs are not tendered one-year offers before free agency, they become UFAs and can be signed by anyone.
2009 NFL Draft

As the Dolphins' 2008 season comes to a close, we now know where the team will be picking in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

With an 11-5 record, the Dolphins were assured to pick between the No. 24 and 27 spots. New England gets the No. 24 pick since they were the lone 11-5 team to miss the playoffs. Atlanta gets No. 25 because of it's easier strength of schedule than Miami. That means the Dolphins will pick 26th in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

In total, the Dolphins hold nine picks in the 2009 NFL Draft. They are:
  • First Round
  • Second Round (x2)
  • Third Round
  • Fourth Round
  • Fifth Round
  • Seventh Round (x3)
The Dolphins have an extra second-rounder from the Redskins for Jason Taylor. With Washington finishing 8-8, I believe their second-rounder will be between 12th and 15th in the round, which would make it 44th-47th overall. The Dolphins' own second-round pick will be later.

Miami also has two extra seventh-rounders from the Browns and Panthers for Travis Daniels and Josh McCown, respectively. The Dolphins have no sixth-round pick, as it was traded to Dallas in the deal for Jason Ferguson.

Miami Dolphins Spotlight Upcoming Schedule

The 2008 season may be over for the Dolphins, but the action never stops here as the offseason is always a busy time for this site with plenty of stuff to cover. Here's what the schedule is looking like in the coming weeks:
  • Jan. 5: Dolphins-Ravens recap videos
  • Jan. 6: My 2008 NFL Awards
  • Jan. 7: Position-by-position grading of the 2008 Miami Dolphins
  • January 2009: Coverage of all future contract signings
  • February 2009: Miami Dolphins offseason previews
It's likely that future contract signings will be a big thing in the coming days, as most players from the practice squad (if not all) will be re-signed to future contracts for 2009. Then there's always practice squad players from other teams (all practice squad players have one-year deals and instantly become free agents once their team's season is over) and current free agents that can be signed to future deals.

Keep in mind that any player not under contract with a team ending the 2008 season can be signed by any team at any time. (This is how we were able to sign David Kicus last offseason before free agency began.) Players with expiring contracts in 2009 won't be available until free agency begins on Feb. 27.