The Miami Dolphins have a couple of months to self-evaluate before the start of the free agency period, the first week in March.
If you think they haven't already started, though, you're most likely wrong.
The Dolphins have a lot to be thinking about this offseason: What are the biggest needs? Which players should be part of the future plans for the franchise? How are they positioned to make moves this year, and in future years?
These are the questions that we will look into in this offseason guide.
Wide receiver: Davone Bess and Brian Hartline make a nice duo of receivers, but neither of them is going to strike a whole lot of fear into the heart of an opposing defense. Bess caught just three passes that traveled deeper than 20 yards this year while Hartline caught 11. An explosive threat would allow Bess and Hartline more room to work with underneath.
Offensive guard: The Dolphins were running a zone-blocking scheme largely with man-blocking personnel. The offensive line had been built around "bigger, stronger" for years, and John Jerry's 6'5", 349-point frame fits that bill perfectly, but not the bill of the lighter, quicker offensive linemen that the Dolphins need.
Cornerback: The Dolphins gave up a few too many long passes through the air this season with 60 pass plays against them of 20 yards or more, ranking sixth-most in the NFL. Nolan Carroll, Sean Smith and Jimmy Wilson were the only three Dolphins cornerbacks to take 50 percent or more of the defensive snaps, and all three ranked outside the top 40, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
The big names set to become free agents are aplenty.
Among them: running back Reggie Bush, wide receiver Brian Hartline, left tackle Jake Long, defensive tackle Randy Starks and tight end Anthony Fasano.
Hartline was Ryan Tannehill's favorite target in 2012. Hartline's 74 receptions rank 10th for a single season in Dolphins history.
The Dolphins need a wide receiver as it is, but losing Hartline would exacerbate that need. Not to mention, keeping familiar targets around Tannehill should be a priority for the Dolphins, as they try to make sure that they don't spoil the growth of the franchise quarterback.
The same could be said of their situation at left tackle. Left tackle Jake Long was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft but did not live up to that standard in 2012 (graded out as the 46th-ranked tackle in the NFL, according to ProFootballFocus.com) and finished the season on injured reserve with a torn triceps.
The Dolphins drafted Jonathan Martin in the second round last year. Martin played much of the year on the right side, but he started the final five games of the year at left tackle when Long went down with an injury. He finished with a -6.8 grade for those games (-21.9 for the season), allowing Tannehill to be pressured 17 times and sacked twice in those games.
Tannehill is an athletic quarterback who can run outside the pocket, but the less often he's under fire, the better.
The Dolphins' situation at running back is tough to figure out, and that could bode well for Bush. The Dolphins drafted running back Lamar Miller in the fourth round last year and then proceeded to give him just 146 snaps all season long. Bush is a known commodity, and although Miller has a similar skill set, the Dolphins don't know exactly what they have in him yet.
Salary Cap Info
Ben Volin of The Palm Beach Post indicates that the Dolphins have around $76 million already accounted for off their 2013 salary cap, but that leaves around $44 million left to spend.
Those numbers are vastly different from the ones assembled at NYJetsCap.com, where they have the Dolphins already dishing out $90 million, leaving them $30 million of breathing room.
Assuming either of those numbers is even close to accurate, and with the median being $37 million in cap space, it looks like the Dolphins are in a prime position to re-sign many of their own key players and to even be a big-time player in the free-agent market.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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