The Miami Dolphins are starting to work toward their 2016 offseason plans, with draft scouting continuing this week with the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Free agency is not that far off, however, and the team has to make some decisions on the 18 players they have currently slotted to be free agents when their contracts expire in March. Will the Dolphins re-sign any of the players prior to the start of free agency? Will the franchise tag come into play this year?
We are working our way through all of the Dolphins' soon-to-be free agents, starting with already completed looks at quarterback Matt Moore, running back Lamar Miller, guard Shelley Smith and safety Louis Delmas. You can follow the links below/to the right to vote for what the Dolphins should do with linebackers Kelvin Sheppard and Spencer Paysinger. At the bottom of this post, you will find another poll in which you can vote to re-sign, franchise tag, or allow today's player to leave.
Re-Sign, Tag, or Leave: Spencer Paysinger
The Miami Dolphins have decisions to make on their soon-to-be free agents. We take a look at each player and decide if the team should re-sign, franchise tag, or allow the player to leave.
Rishard Matthews, wide receiver
2015 Salary Cap Number: $673,403
Expiring Contract: 4 year, $2,153, 612 ($538,403 average)
The 2015 season started with Matthews wanting out of Miami due to a stacked depth chart in front of him. It ended with Matthews on injured reserve. In between, there were some great moments. Matthews finished the season with 43 receptions for 662 yards and 4 touchdowns, but his season was shortened to just 12 games because of the ribs injury that ultimately landed him on IR. Matthews was the second option for most of the year for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, only behind Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry. Not bad for a seventh round pick from 2012.
The Case for Re-Signing
He clearly has a rapport with Tannehill and he provides a solid intermediate option to the offense. Matthews is not going to be overly expensive, though he will see a nice pay raise from the $538,000 average of his rookie contract. He is a physical wide receiver, who plays bigger than his 6-foot body, and he is just 26 years old, meaning there is still plenty of football, and plenty of growth, remaining.
The Case for Tagging
There is none.
The Case for Allowing Matthews to Leave
Honestly, it may not be Miami's choice when it comes to Matthews' future with the team. Landry will obviously hold one of the starting positions, and the other should belong to 2015 first-round draft-pick DeVante Parker. Matthews would be a great third option on the team, but even that would likely mean splitting time with Kenny Stills. Matthews will likely feel like he can find a starting role somewhere around the league, and that will be motivation for him to check out free agency. Miami could feel like they have the wide receiver position covered with those other three players as the primary options, making them a little more likely to let Matthews leave.
Re-sign. The rapport between Matthews and Tannehill is too great to just let walk away, assuming Matthews' demands are not exorbitant. If he is asking for more than Miami can afford, they will likely be fine with letting him walk and trusting that Tannehill and Parker can continue to build their own rapport, something that was starting to come together at the end of the year.