What's Next for the Miami Dolphins After Re-Signing Brian Hartline?

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IMarch 8, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 14:  Brian Hartline #82 of the Miami Dolphins looks on prior to the game against the St. Louis Rams at Sun Life Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins entered the offseason looking for help at wide receiver. Before free agency has even begun, the Dolphins have addressed the No. 2 spot.

NBC's ProFootballTalk was the first to report that the Dolphins struck a deal with wide receiver Brian Hartline.

In retaining Hartline, the Dolphins keep a familiar target in the fold to help smooth the transition for quarterback Ryan Tannehill into his second year.

Is it worth that much money to keep around a familiar target, though—and one who has just one productive year under his belt? The value of the contract was reported a few days ago by Alex Marvez of Fox Sports as being somewhere between $6 million and $6.5 million per year, and that number was met with a fair amount of outrage from Dolphins fans, Jeff Ireland's detractors and some media circles.

A closer look at the numbers of comparable No. 2 wide receivers proves that it's right in line with what teams should expect to pay at the position.

Now, the big question is what's next for the Dolphins?

The contract takes away from what was around $36 million in cap space, and just judging by the average figures, the Dolphins should be left with just shy of $30 million to play with in free agency. That's still more than enough money to go after a top wide receiver, with Steelers receiver Mike Wallace set to hit the open market and looking like a great fit for the Dolphins.

The Dolphins also have a need at cornerback, offensive tackle and running back opening up with the departures of Sean Smith, Jake Long and Reggie Bush, respectively.

All three look ready to get more money from other teams than from the Dolphins, and although the Dolphins could address some of the holes internally (perhaps by moving Jonathan Martin to the left side and giving more reps to Lamar Miller in Bush's stead), they'll still lack proven top-end talent at those positions.

The Dolphins offseason is still loaded with question marks, but they have given themselves some answers this week—first by placing the franchise tag on Randy Starks, and now by re-signing Brian Hartline.


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 otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.