While other teams are currently purging their rosters of bad contracts, trying to find ways to get under the projected salary cap for next year, as well as give themselves some breathing room to pick up free agents or sign draft picks, the Miami Dolphins are sitting nicely, with around $50 million in cap space next season. The team does not need to do a lot to get ready for next season, the space is already there. However, that does not mean the team will not release players to add to the roster space they have.
The Dolphins will look at projected salary cap numbers next year, as well as each player's production levels, and determine if any of the players need to be released, rather than over pay on a bad contract.
Which brings us to cornerback Richard Marshall.
Marshall is expected to be a $5.8 million cap hit next season, the third highest number currently on the roster (linebacker Karlos Dansby, $8.6 million, defensive tackle Paul Soliai, $7.9 million). Marshall will be entering his eighth season in the league, with 489 tackles, 7 sacks, and 18 interceptions. He came to the Dolphins this offseason, and unseated former starter Vontae Davis, before being suffering a back injury early in the season, and never getting back on the field. For the Dolphins, Marshall played just four games, with one interception, and 17 tackles. He was officially placed on injured reserve on November 6.
The 12 games Marshall missed this past season are the first 12 games he missed in his career, playing 100 straight games before his back injury.
Now, the Dolphins have to consider if those four games were enough justification to pay Marshall nearly $6 million in 2013.
Complicating the issue for Miami is their situation at cornerback. Starting cornerback Sean Smith is expected to be a free agent in March, and the Dolphins will probably allow him to leave if he does not agree to a "hometown discount" type of contract. With the team obviously needing starting level cornerbacks, Marshall could be the guy to fill at least one of those positions.
Is it worth keeping a guy who could only play four games because of a back injury at $5.8 million, hoping he could return to form and hold down a starting cornerback position for an entire season? Or will the Dolphins simply let Marshall go, looking to use the savings, and the cap space they have, to pursue, or draft, a healthy cornerback?