The Miami Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend when the Cincinnati Bengals claimed the final Wild Card spot in the postseason tournament. With one game left in the 2012 regular season, the 2013 season is starting to become the focus for the media, and for general manager Jeff Ireland.
Ireland, admidst constant fan criticism, has the Dolphins poised for a big offseason. The team has five of the first 100 selections in April's NFL Draft. The team is also currently $60 million under next year's salary cap. However, that number is a little misleading; the Dolphins will see 23 of the 53 players on the roster become restricted or unrestricted free agents when the new league year starts in March.
While some of those players may be allowed to leave, a lot of them will probably be re-signed, cutting into the $60 million cap room. Which players will be brought back to Miami is going to be a constant discussion among Dolphins fans over the next few months, and fans will likely disagree on what the team should do.
One of those disagreements is already starting. What will the Dolphins do with starting running back Reggie Bush? In his first season with the Dolphins, Bush ran for 1,086 yards, his first career thousand yard rushing season. To back it up, Bush is currently 40 yards shy of a second straight year hitting the milestone. But, Bush is also injury prone; when he takes the field Sunday, it will mark the first season in which he has played every game since his rookie season in 2006 with the New Orleans Saints. It will also be the first time in his career that Bush has started all 16 games in a season.
Bush has 219 carries on the season, surpassing his career high set last year. He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, Good enough for 15th in the league among all runners, and will be the tenth highest average among thousand yard rushers once he breaks that mark. Last season, Bush average 5.0 per carry.
Can the Dolphins afford to lose one of, if not the only, dynamic offensive players they have?
According to The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero, the team believes they could afford to lose Bush, but they will make an effort to bring him back. Salguero's sources told him that the Dolphins will happily re-sign the hard working running back, but only at their price.
Bush's 2012 salary was $4.5 million, with a $6.025 million
Ireland, and the Dolphins coaching staff, believes rookie running back Lamar Miller is going to be an upgrade over Bush. Miller is a 218 pound power back, who runs with 4.4 second 40-yard dash speed. When given an opportunity this past weekend to pick up some carries, the fourth round draft pick out of the University of Miami ran for 73 yards on just 10 carries.
However, it was Bush who scored all three of Miami's touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing.
The Dolphins will look to increase Miller's role next season, and an offense with both Miller and Bush could be a match up nightmare for opposing defenses. But, if Bush is asking for more than the Dolphins are willing to pay, Miami will simply move on with Miller as the feature back.