This is the time of year when we all basically live off of nothing more than speculation. We have thoughts in our heads about who we want to see get signed or drafted by the Dolphins. But we also have thoughts about who should no longer remain in Miami.
And for varying reasons, the list below are five Dolphins who this front office will have to make some decisions about.
Jason Taylor, OLB
After a season apart, Dolphin fans everywhere were thrilled when we found out that Jason Taylor and the Dolphins would be reuniting in Miami. But while Taylor returned to Miami to play outside linebacker, JT became more of a run-stopping linebacker, playing the strong side in this 3-4 defense. He still recorded seven sacks, of course. But by the end of the year, there were rumblings that Taylor wasn't happy with his role as primarily a run stopper on early downs who came off the field in pass-rushing situations. Granted - JT had a right to be angry about that. Hell, I was angry.
But now Taylor is a free agent and you have to wonder about his desire to remain in Miami. You also have to wonder if the Dolphins want Taylor back. It's not that he didn't perform well, because he was pretty solid all season. But he'll be 36 before the season kicks off and he'll likely cost more than the incentive-filled $800,000 deal that he played under in '09.
Joey Porter, OLB
Perhaps Taylor's future depends on what the Dolphins decide to do about Joey Porter. After an outstanding seasin on 2008, Porter looked like a different player in 2009, tallying only nine sacks and just 41 tackles. Often, he looked sluggish on the field and was again a liability when teams ran at him.
Porter will also be 33 in March and clearly had some issues with the coaching staff - leading to his "healthy scratch" during the season. His mouth combined with his lack of production could run him right out of Miami. He's also owed a $1.2 million roster bonus in March to go with his $3.6 million salary for 2010. With there expected to be no salary cap, Porter could be cut with no real ramifications - saving the Dolphins nearly $5 million.
Oh - and Omar Kelly said of Porter when the Dolphins were clearing out their lockers that Porter was acting "as if he was leaving forever."
Gibril Wilson, FS
Maybe it's not Gibril's fault. Maybe this regime just made a terrible decision to sign him and play him at free safety, pairing him with Yeremiah Bell. Regardless, though, Wilson was the worst player on the field for the Dolphins in 2009, in my opinion. He was terrible in coverage and wasn't much better with his tackling - missing a number of critical tackles.
Wilson signed a 5 year, $27.5 million deal. Of that, $8 million was guaranteed. But the Dolphins have already paid out the guaranteed portion - with $5 million being a signing bonus, $2 million being a first-year signing bonus, and another million in 2009 as salary with a workout bonus. With no salary cap in place and no ramifications of having to spread out the hit of the guaranteed money over the next two years, the Dolphins can save the $3.9 million he's due in 2010 as well as $15 million he's due between 2011 and 2013.
If no new C.B.A. is reached and 2010 is uncapped, then it's almost a certainty that Wilson will be gone. And not a moment too soon, if you ask me.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR
There might not be a player on this roster that is more the exact opposite of what Bill Parcells wants in his players than Ted Ginn. He doesn't have any toughness and he seems to be mentally fragile in that he'll disappear in tight spots or after bad mistakes. Case in point: his 11 catch, 108 catch game against the Colts back in week two. It was a game that should have been a building block for Ginn. But he had the potential game-winning touchdown bounce off of his hands and it was all downhill from there.
He did have his moments, though. His huge touchdown catch against the Jets on Monday Night Football - beating Darrelle Revis for the score - was a big play. His two return touchdowns just a few weeks later in the Meadowlands was crucial to Miami winning that game. And his five catch, 82 yard performance against Houston nearly helped the Dolphins pull off a miracle comeback.
But how much longer do you give a player? On the positive side for Ginn, though, is that he's not expensive in 2010, due just $1.04 million. And no receiver on this team presents the kind of game-breaking ability that Ginn does. So this will be an interesting decision that the front office will make.
Akin Ayodele, ILB
Ayodele is a favorite of this regime because he represents everything this staff believes in. He's big, strong, and tough. And he's a leader in the locker room and a role model in the community.
But he'll be 31 in September, is slow and a liability in coverage, and has a bloated $3.25 million salary in 2010 - the final year of his deal. The Dolphins clearly need an upgrade at inside linebacker. Channing Crowder, who is recovering from a foot injury, will likely be healthy for training camp. But he's not a play-maker, neither. The Dolphins have to get that play-making ILB who can cover or blitz depending on the situation. And if they do, that would likely send Ayodele to the bench. Isn't over $3 million for a backup a little much?
So who stays and who goes? Give us your thoughts below.