The Miami Dolphins have already made some offseason roster moves, including the release of offensive tackle Jason Fox, cornerback Brice McCain, and defensive end Quinton Coples. The moves are far from done for Miami, who will continue to look for ways to create salary cap space this offseason, with one potential move coming as the team begins working on a contract extension for defensive end Cameron Wake. A new contract with Wake, who is entering the final year on his current deal, could lower his 2016 scheduled $9.8 million salary cap number.
The move could then free up some of the money the team will need to bring back soon-to-be free agent Olivier Vernon, returning a fearsome pass rushing duo to the Dolphins defensive line, a duo that never got a chance to play together fully healthy in 2015.
Ian Rapoport on NFL Media first reported the contract extension talks between the Dolphins and Wake.
Wake spent much of the 2015 season on injured reserve after tearcing his Achilles' tendon against the New England Patriots in October. He had recoded 7.0 sacks at that point, and was looking to be in rhythm after a slow start to the year. The Dolphins were thought to be considering all their options with Wake, who turned 34 last month. A former Canadian Football League star, Wake has earned four Pro Bowl selections since Miami signed him before the 2009 season, as well as being a one time First-Team All-Pro selection. He has 70 career sacks along with 16 forced fumbles and 257 tackles.
The Dolphins entered the offseason expected to be over the salary cap, but had a clear path that could provide the team around $40 million in cap space. Wake is a part of that puzzle. The space he provides, as well as moves like exercising a clause in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's contract that allows the team to spread his base salary over five seasons, restructuring it as a signing bonus, could allow the team to find a way to keep Vernon on the roster as well.
Vernon is expected to draw interest this offseason from multiple teams, and could be looking for a contract in the $12- to $15-million range. The Dolphins could look to use the franchise tag on Vernon, a tag that would guarantee him around $15.5 million for the 2016 season, as well as provide the team more time to work out a long-term deal with the University of Miami product. The deadline for signing franchise tagged players to a long-term deal in July 15.
The Dolphins, according to Rapoport's report would like to have Wake's new deal in place before the start of free agency on March 9.