While teams still kick the tires on free agent acquisitions, the Dolphins are turning their attention to securing a long future with some of their own players.
Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the team has started talking about long-term deals for tackle Jake Long, linebacker Cameron Wake and wide receiver Brian Hartline. All three players are entering the final years of their contracts and taking care of deals now would keep the Dolphins from finding themselves in a tough spot next year.
Long, who voided the final year of his rookie deal, is set to make $11.2 million this season and he’ll likely be looking for a deal in the neighborhood of the one Joe Thomas got from the Browns last summer. Thomas got a seven-year, $84 million deal with $44 million guaranteed. That made him the highest-paid offensive tackle in the game, something that Long would probably be shooting for in a deal with the Dolphins.
Wake signed a four-year, $2.3 million deal when he jumped to Miami from the CFL in 2009. With 28 sacks in his first three seasons, there’s no question he’s outperformed the contract and that he’d be looking for a sizable jump in his next deal. The Dolphins could franchise either Long or Wake if no deal gets done before the end of next season, but they’d be in a tough spot if they can’t get one of them signed ahead of that point.
Hartline is in the final year of the deal he signed after being selected in the fourth round of the 2009 Draft. He’s caught 35 passes last season, although he could be in position to catch a lot this year with the move to Joe Philbin’s offense and no Brandon Marshall on the roster. If he does, getting him signed now would likely make it a better deal for the Dolphins.
Running back Reggie Bush, cornerback Sean Smith and defensive end Randy Starks are some of the other Dolphins entering the final years of their contracts.