<
>

Are Dolphins capable of matching offers for Olivier Vernon?

Last year the Miami Dolphins gave tight end Charles Clay the transition tag, and he received one offer from the AFC East rival Buffalo Bills.

Miami didn't match it.

This offseason the Dolphins, who have less cap room than a year ago, will once again play the waiting game after giving defensive end and sack leader Olivier Vernon the one-year transition tag for $12.701 million. Teams will be allowed to negotiate with Vernon next week, and there's a good chance he will get more interest on the market than Clay did last offseason.

Can Miami match potential offers for Vernon?

The Dolphins are making a curious decision with Vernon. They are being indecisive with Vernon the same way they were with Clay one year ago. Their one-foot-in, one-foot-out approach didn't work as the Bills gave Clay a substantial offer the Dolphins wouldn't touch. With so many teams owning tons of cap room, there's a good chance Vernon also will get a multi-year offer elsewhere that could put them in a bind.

According to NFLPA records, the Dolphins are currently about $3 million over the cap. But several moves are expected in the near future, such as restructuring Ndamukong Suh's $23.4 million salary for 2016 and cutting veteran receiver Greg Jennings' $4 million salary. That will put the team in position to make at least a few moves in free agency.

Quality, young pass-rushers do not hit the market often. Vernon, 25, is entering his prime and has 29 career sacks in four seasons. Instead of signing him to a long-term extension or giving him the franchise tag, the Dolphins opted to let the market determine Vernon's value. Miami also could have taken the opposite approach and just let Vernon hit the market.

Miami has a plethora of needs ranging from linebacker, guard, cornerback and safety. The team doesn't have enough cap room in free agency to fill all those needs this year and must nail the draft to help. Potentially losing Vernon also would create another hole at defensive end, especially with the status of former Pro Bowler Cameron Wake still up in the air.