The Miami Dolphins' 2015 training camp opens next week, with rookies and veterans all reporting a week from today. A lot of decisions have to be made during training camp and the preseason, but it is a question that may be decided before training camp that may be even more interesting. Miami currently has around $11 million in salary cap space; should they use it?
The obvious target for the Dolphins, and a player many fans hope ends up in aqua for the second time in his career, is Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis. Released by the Philadelphia Eagles last month, Mathis is not in a rush to sign with a team, but he could immediately come in and upgrade the left guard position, while allowing Miami to start the best of the Dallas Thomas - Billy Turner - Jamil Douglas position battle at right guard. Mathis will not be cheap, with his two Pro Bowls as leverage in negotiations, but Miami could find a way to structure the contract in a team friendly method so he does not count much toward this year's, or next year's, salary cap.
If the Dolphins are not looking to land Mathis, or he chooses to go somewhere else, there are some other interesting free agents who could add something to the team. Two former Dolphins players, tackle Jake Long and receiver Wes Welker, are available. Both come with high injury concerns, but could be signed as depth options in case of injury. If left tackle Branden Albert is unable to start the season due to his knee injury suffered last season, Long could be used as the opening day starter at the position, then moved to the bench as an insurance policy for the remainder of the season. Speculation is that Long's body may have finally completely quit, so he may not be able to play this season, but if he can, and he is willing to come back to Miami for a veteran minimum option, he may be an option - and keeping him on the bench throughout the season unless he is needed could be a way to try to keep him healthy.
Welker is similar to Long in that he is a former Dolphins player who is dealing with potential career ending injury. Miami does not really need another wide receiver at this point - and Rishard Matthews would really not enjoy another receiver being added to the group - but he is an interesting option if, again, he is willing to play at a veteran minimum. Welker has had multiple concussions, and likely should quit football - and the fact that he is not signed could be the league sending him a signal that he needs to quit - but if he has medical clearance and can provide any sort of spark to the Miami offense, the team could at least take a look.
Another offensive lineman Miami could consider is guard Charlie Johnson, who has experience at left tackle, though he is more at home at left guard. He spent the last four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, but was released in February. He struggled for the Vikings at times, and the Vikings continually seemed to be looking for his replacement, but he could at least come in during training camp to provide competition, especially if Miami can sign him with minimal guaranteed money. Johnson would by no means be a long term solution to the position, but he could be a stop gap if Miami's coaches lose confidence in any of the Thomas-Turner-Douglas trio.
The other option is for Miami to do nothing with the money. Knowing they will have salary cap issues next season, the Dolphins could choose to save as much of the $11 million as possible this year, rolling it over into next year's salary cap.
If you were the Dolphins at this point, what would you do with the money?