Dolphins free-agency preview: DE Olivier Vernon

The Miami Dolphins have a lot of decisions to make in February as they plan to slash payroll and make room to spend on the draft and free agency. But the team also has several in-house free agents to address.

With that in mind, we're highlighting key players whose contracts expired and their chances to return to South Florida. Next up is Miami's sack leader:

Pending free agent: DE Olivier Vernon

2015 stats: 61 tackles, 7.5 sacks

Analysis: Vernon led Miami in sacks last season and will get paid handsomely for it. The 25-year-old is entering his physical prime and has 29 career sacks. There are not many of those players hitting the market, which should make Vernon a coveted commodity. The Dolphins have their own decisions to make at the position. Former Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake, for example, is scheduled to make $8.4 million next season. Miami would be hard-pressed to pay both Wake and Vernon this season. Vernon told me in December that he’s keeping an open mind in free agency. But if a team with plenty of cap room is willing to pay Vernon in the range of $9 million-$10 million or more per year, that could take the Dolphins out of the running.

Chances of returning: 25 percent