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Do the Dolphins have an attractive coaching opening?

Will the contract situations of players like Ryan Tannehill dissuade potential coaches from considering the Dolphins? AP Photo/Joel Auerbach

In just a matter of days, the Miami Dolphins will be back on the hunt after another downtrodden and disappointing season. Miami enters the week 5-10 and sizable underdogs on Sunday against the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (12-3).

The game will mark the conclusion for Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell and many on his staff. Campbell is 4-7 since taking over. So that’s not a surprise.

But here is a key question moving forward: Do the Dolphins have an attractive coaching job?

They will be competing with several other teams for top candidates, such as the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles, who fired Chip Kelly on Tuesday night. The Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts are three additional teams with potential openings once the season is done.

With that in mind, here are three negatives that could work against Miami:

  • Miami is tight on the salary cap. The team currently is projected to be over the estimated cap for 2016 and has a lot of tough decisions to provide some breathing room. Important starters such as defensive end Cameron Wake ($8.4 million), cornerback Brent Grimes ($8.025 million), tight end Jordan Cameron ($7.5 million) and linebacker Koa Misi ($4.3 million) are among those with high salaries, and not everyone can be retained. The Dolphins already have a lot of holes on their roster, and losing any of these players would create even more needs. Also, don’t expect them to be major players in free agency. In fact, they will have a rough time keeping their own in-house free agents such as defensive end Olivier Vernon and running back Lamar Miller. Make no mistake, each coaching candidate will take a hard look at this roster as it is currently put together.

  • Is quarterback Ryan Tannehill the answer? The answer has been “no” after four seasons, zero playoff appearances and a 28-35 record as a starter. But the Dolphins are committed to Tannehill to the tune of $96 million. Financially, it appears he will be under center for the next year or two in Miami. That could scare some coaching prospects away who do not believe Tannehill is worth hinging their future on, especially compared to other openings where you have better options at quarterback such as Andrew Luck (Indianapolis), Matthew Stafford (Detroit) and potentially Marcus Mariota (Tennessee). Tannehill will be 28 next July. Therefore, it’s time to stop using the word potential.

  • It’s been proven the Dolphins lack leadership. Over the past three seasons, the team had a high-profile bullying scandal within their locker room (2013) and back-to-back late-season collapses (2013 and 2014). This year, the team fell apart and underachieved from the start under former head coach Joe Philbin and failed to respond to the coaching change under Campbell. It will be up to the new coach to establish a firm direction, but he can’t create leaders from his locker room. Tannehill and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh are highly-paid players but not vocal leaders.

Of course, things are not all bad. South Florida is a great destination and owner Stephen Ross is willing to spend top dollar to turn the Dolphins into a winner. They also have the No. 6 overall pick in the draft if the season ended today. Those factors work in the team's favor.

But the key in this upcoming search for potential candidates is determining whether Miami's good outweighs the bad compared to other franchises.