The Miami Dolphins' 2016 free-agents-to-be list includes 18 players with expiring contracts. We are working out way through the list, taking a look at the reasons why Miami might want to re-sign, franchise tag, or allow the player to leave. We have already covered quarterback Matt Moore, running back Lamar Miller, and offensive lineman Shelley Smith. Today, we look at a player who missed the entire 2015 season.
Louis Delmas, safety
2015 Salary Cap Number: $2.29 million
Expiring Contract: 1 year, $2.25 million
Delmas re-signed on a 1-year contract for 2015 after spending the 2014 season with Miami. He played in 13 games for the Dolphins in 2014, but did not see the field in 2015 after tearing his ACL for the second time in nine months. The injury occurred during a joint-practice with the Carolina Panthers prior to the two teams facing off in a preseason game. There is some weird math involved in his salary cap number for 2015 that includes presumed roster bonuses that Delmas did not end up earning plus some injured reserve calculations that need to be made, so do not worry too much about that when trying to figure out why his salary cap number was higher than his contract.
The Case for Re-Signing
Delmas pairs really well with Reshad Jones in the back of the Miami secondary and does provide a solid, if not flashy, player as the last line of defense for Miami. He is a veteran who can be the starter, though relying on him through the multiple knee injuries could be dangerous. Delmas is a cheap option for a starting safety, especially if Miami can convince him to stay with them, giving the team a little flexibility to focus secondary upgrades at the cornerback position while continuing to develop younger players like Michael Thomas and Walt Aikens.
The Case for Tagging
There is none.
The Case for Allowing Delmas to Leave
Injuries. That is really to what it boils down. Can Delmas stay healthy? Only once in his career, 2013 with the Detroit Lions, has he played in all 16 games. It's hard to sign a player knowing you may only get a partial season out of him.
Allow to walk. Not counting last year when he was out for the entire season, Delmas averages 13 games played a year (it drops to 11 with last year missed), so he is there for over three-quarters of the year, which could entice Miami to give him another look. If his knee is healthy - which is a big if after two torn ACLs in the same knee just 9 months apart - signing him to a cheap contract could give Miami's new coaching staff more time to get Thomas or Aikens (or another safety) ready. There is the relationship he already has with Jones to consider as well. At the end of the day, however, I think the coaches will likely let Delmas leave in favor of adding a new safety option, or giving the job to Thomas permanently.