The Miami Dolphins have 18 players scheduled to be free agents when the new league year begins in March, split between unrestricted, restricted, and exclusive rights free agents. Between now and the start of free agency, the team has to decide whether they will re-sign, franchise tag, or allow each of those players to leave South Florida.
We have been working our way through all of the Dolphins players with expiring contracts, taking a look at their role on the team, and giving our recommendation for what the team should do. We then ask you to vote on each player, deciding if they should be re-signed, tagged, or allowed to leave. Thus far, we have completed quarterback Matt Moore, running back Lamar Miller, guard Shelley Smith, safety Louis Delmas, linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, linebacker Spencer Paysinger, and wide receiver Rishard Matthews. We also have the polls available for defensive end Derrick Shelby and offensive lineman Jacques McClendon which you can find using the links below.
Olivier Vernon, defensive end
2015 Salary Cap Number: $1,701,520
Expiring Contract: 4 year, $2,848,080
Vernon has appeared in every single game since he entered the league in 2012 and has been a starter on the defensive line for the past 3 seasons. Vernon was drafted in the third round in the 2012 NFL Draft and has played his whole career (high school, college, NFL) in Florida. Fun fact, Vernon is only 25. His best years of football are still ahead of him.
The Case for Re-Signing
Vernon's play went to a whole different level after Cameron Wake was lost for the season. He was constantly applying pressure to quarterbacks and plowing through offensive lineman. He had five sacks and six tackles for loss in the last six weeks of the season and was playing some great football. He was one of the players who was playing at a consistently well during the last stretch of the season. Did I mention he's only 25? He's still young and still has some potential.
The Case for Tagging
Vernon is going to be in demand during free agency. Teams are going to want to pay him big to lure him away from other offers. If the Dolphins really want to keep him, they're going to have to tag him, unless they somehow reach a new deal.
The Case for Allowing Vernon to Leave
Though Vernon was playing some good football, he was getting flagged a lot it seemed. There were quite a few penalties for late hits to the QB and Vernon has earned the label "dirty player" from some fans. In their last game of the season, Vernon was fined $17k for a hit on Tom Brady. He was also fined $37,363 for two roughing the passer penalties against Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota in October. Is this on Vernon or coaching?
Re-sign or Franchise Tag. I don't think the Dolphins should let Vernon walk. He is a solid player and you can't let talent leave your team. If Vernon walks, there's not much depth there. Shelby is also a free agent and there's a possibility Cameron Wake might not even be back (I doubt that though, bunch of media hoopla). I think the Dolphins have to make it a point to bring Vernon back.
I am very interested to see what everyone else thinks. This should be a hot topic for the fans.