Decision 2011: Dolphin players facing free agency next offseason

With so many players around the league declaring publicly that they aren't happy with their contract situation - and now with the news that Ronnie Brown is looking for a long-term deal - I figured it would be a good idea to take a look ahead to the 2011 offseason and quickly highlight current members of the Miami Dolphins whose contract will expire following the 2010 season. Of course, this is assuming that the players and owners get together between now and next March and actually come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (and I'd be surprised if they didn't because both sides have so much to lose if there's a work stoppage).

So assuming there is a new CBA, here is the list of notable Dolphins scheduled to be free agents next offseason:

Offense
QB Chad Pennington, RB Ronnie Brown, RB Ricky Williams, RB Lex Hilliard (RFA), RB Patrick Cobbs, WR Davone Bess (RFA), TE Anthony Fasano, TE Joey Haynos (RFA)

Defense
DL Tony McDaniel, NT Paul Soliai, LB Charlie Anderson, LB Quentin Moses, LB Tim Dobbins

It's worth noting that if the new CBA stipulates that a player needs 6 accrued NFL seasons to become an unrestricted free agent (which is the stipulation that kicked in this offseason, resulting in very large number of restricted free agents), both Patrick Cobbs and Tim Dobbins would be restricted free agents. But if the new CBA uses the rule that was being used prior to the uncapped sseason, then you only need four accrued NFL seasons to become an unrestricted free agent - meaning Cobbs and Dobbins would be unrestricted.

As you can see, the Dolphins will face a number of big decisions next offseason. And it's also worth mentioning that Chad Henne's contract expires after the 2011 season, which will likely mean that this front office will begin extension talk with Henne's agent next offseason assuming he plays as well as we all think he can.

I do believe, though, that upon second glance of the above list, Miami's group of potential free agents next offseason isn't as daunting as it originally seems. Davone Bess and Lex Hilliard will both be back as long as the Dolphins want them because they can just use the first round tender on them. Chad Pennington was willing to come back to Miami this year despite having no real chance to win the starting job. I'd imagine if the Dolphins still want him next year, he'd be more than happy to return. Same goes for Ricky Williams. Bill Parcells clearly likes Ricky. Ricky clearly loves this organization. If he wants to play beyond this season, it'll be in Miami - no question about that.

When you really break it down, the only major decision this front office will have to make will be regarding Ronnie Brown. He's still a top 10 back, in my opinion, when he's healthy. But that, of course, is the big question mark with Ronnie. He'll also be 29 years old next offseason - and that will certainly factor into this front office's decision.

So what do you think? As of right now, which of the above free agents do you see coming back to Miami next offseason?

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