The Miami Dolphins began their offseason program this week to kick off what should be an interesting 2016 season. Here are four key players on defense for the Dolphins who are entering an important contract year:
No. 1: DE Cameron Wake
2016 salary: $8.4 million
Analysis: Wake, 34, is one of the best Dolphins players of the past decade. However, a season-ending Achilles injury limited the former Pro Bowler to just seven games last season. The Dolphins tried to get Wake to take a pay cut this offseason, but they couldn't reach a deal. Therefore, Wake's salary remains one of the highest on the team this year. Wake will take his time in rehab to make sure he gets back to 100 percent in a contract year.
No. 2: LB Jelani Jenkins
2016 salary: $1.696 million
Analysis: Jenkins failed to follow up on his strong 2014 campaign last season. He struggled through injuries and inconsistency, as the Dolphins had one of the AFC's worst groups of linebackers. Last year's performance may have cost Jenkins some money. But Jenkins, a 2013 fourth-round pick, has a chance to redeem himself in the final year of his contract. He proved two years ago that he has enough talent to contribute defensively when healthy.
No. 3: LB Kiko Alonso
2016 salary: $991,418
Analysis: Alonso is one of the biggest mysteries in the NFL. He was on a rocket trajectory his rookie year in 2013 when he recorded 159 tackles and four interceptions. But Alonso has looked ordinary since suffering multiple knee injuries the past two seasons. The Dolphins think Alonso can get closer to the player he was three years ago. It is an intriguing risk. But if things don’t work out, they can cut bait with Alonso when his contract runs out after this season.
No. 4: DE Andre Branch
2016 salary: $2.75 million
Analysis: The Dolphins signed Branch to a one-year, “prove it” contract this offseason. Miami wants to see if the former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end can fit into Miami’s scheme and play a sizable role on defense. Branch is a former second-round pick who has some good characteristics. He’s long, has starting experience and plays hard. Branch should get a lot of reps to prove himself behind 30-plus defensive ends Wake (34) and Mario Williams (31).