NFL Miami Dolphins

5 Miami Dolphins Who Must Be Kicked to the Curb Before Free Agency

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5 Miami Dolphins Who Should Be Kicked to the Curb

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins and their fans are eagerly awaiting free agency. That might be the case every year, but this year it rings even truer. Free agency offers an opportunity to turn the page on a disappointing season, but perhaps more significantly, an embarrassing national controversy.

Miami has over $30 million of cap space to improve its roster. But with four, potentially even five, positions along the offensive line to replace and quite possibly over $10 million to invest in star cornerback Brent Grimes next season, that cap number doesn't represent as much flexibility as it may seem.

There are several ways for the Dolphins to create even more cap space, though. Cutting ties with players who might not be performing to the level of their respective contracts is one way to do so.

There are also members of the team who might not be eating up a significant amount of cap space but still need to go for a variety of reasons. Here, I attempt to list five players who should be "kicked to the curb" by new GM Dennis Hickey before free agency opens on Mar. 11.

It should be noted that this list doesn't include impending free agents like Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Randy Starks. Those players are already gone unless Hickey chooses to bring them back. The list only contains players who have at least one season remaining on their contract.

Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.

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5. Jonathan Martin

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Let's start with the obvious, or at least, what should be obvious. Believe it or not, there are many media members and fans who are open to the idea of Jonathan Martin returning to the Dolphins. Bringing Martin back would not only prevent the franchise from moving on from the infamous bullying saga -- he would be bombarded with questions concerning his mental state and how he is being treated by his peers on a weekly basis -- but it would thrust him back into a locker room that, frankly, resents him.

Right or wrong, many of the Dolphins' players feel as though Martin betrayed his teammates and broke the code of the locker room when he went public with his displeasure. Mike Pouncey made that obvious in texts to Incognito, and players like Brian Hartline made it apparent in interviews shortly after the debacle first began unfolding.

Perhaps "kick to the curb" is too extreme in this circumstance. The Dolphins need to part ways with Martin in a delicate manner or risk facing even more criticism. Trading him to the San Francisco 49ers and his former college coach Jim Harbaugh for a conditional late-round draft pick is one realistic possibility.

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4. Dimitri Patterson

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Cornerback Dimitri Patterson was very good in limited action this past season. He intercepted four passes despite starting only four games. He also gave Miami's secondary some much needed versatility with the ability to cover the boundary on early downs and the slot on passing downs.

But Patterson will turn 31 over the summer, comes with durability concerns and owns a $5.4 million cap hit in 2014. If he's unwilling to restructure his contract, he should be as good as gone. None of Patterson's current deal is guaranteed, so cutting him would save the Dolphins all $5.4 million against the cap.

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3. Brandon Gibson

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Brandon Gibson was in the midst of a productive year before he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 8. He caught 30 passes for 326 yards with three touchdowns and seemingly had good rapport with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. But Rishard Matthews, who filled in for Gibson after the injury, proved to be just as capable, catching 41 passes for 448 yards and two touchdowns.

There is one big difference between Matthews and Gibson, though. One is scheduled to make $2.7 million in 2014 while the other will only make $570,000. The former figure represents Gibson, of course, who would save the Dolphins just over $1.7 million of cap space if cut.

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2. Daniel Thomas

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For three years now, running back Daniel Thomas has underachieved carrying the rock for the Dolphins. Despite weighing in at 235-pounds, Thomas rarely breaks tackles. He often attempts to juke defenders as opposed to running over them. Essentially, Thomas is a "wannabe" scat back inside of a power runner's body. And his production has certainly taken a hit because of it.

For the third consecutive season, Thomas failed to average 4.0 yards per carry in 2013. The Dolphins' offensive line was indeed dreadful, but Thomas averaged about three-and-a-half yards per rush during the two years it was more formidable as well. Thomas doesn't catch enough passes out of the backfield or provide enough reliability as a blocker to compensate for his lack of running prowess either.

It's time for the Dolphins to move on from Thomas and give his carries to a rookie or free-agent signing. Cutting Thomas would save the Dolphins $816,321 of cap space in 2014.

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1. Matt Moore

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If Ryan Tannehill suffers an injury in 2014 or performs so poorly that benching him becomes a tempting solution, the Dolphins probably aren't going to compete for a playoff spot regardless of who the backup quarterback is. Matt Moore is a capable fill-in, and he's played well at times as a starter. But he's not worth a $5.5 million cap number when there is a strong chance he won't even see the field next season outside of garbage time.

Cutting Moore would save the Dolphins $4 million against the cap. That's $4 million that could be put to better use than paying for a clipboard holder, like helping reconstruct the offensive line or retaining Brent Grimes. Head coach Joe Philbin is rumored to be high on Moore, but Dolphins fans should hope those rumors were created to increase the backup's trade value.