General Manager Jeff Ireland has been pretty quiet for the last two months — a little too quiet, for some Dolphins fans.
But he stressed patience Thursday during his news conference at the NFL Scouting Combine, because activity is about to heat up.
The Dolphins will have 12 unrestricted free agents when the new NFL league year begins March 12, and Ireland has done little to re-sign them, many of whom are key players: Reggie Bush, Jake Long, Brian Hartline, Sean Smith, Anthony Fasano, Randy Starks and others. All 12 are unsure where they will play in 2013.
But Ireland is busy at the Combine speaking with representatives of the free agents as much as he is scouting draft prospects. And he still has more than two weeks until his players are allowed to negotiate with the 31 other NFL teams March 9. Players are free to re-sign with the Dolphins at any time, but can sign with another team at 4 p.m. March 12.
“Right now the date that I have in my head is March 9,” Ireland said. “When you have as many of them as we do, you can’t just make knee-jerk reactions on getting certain guys signed. So we’ve taken a very thorough evaluation and we’ve met on it many times, and this is the time period we’re starting to talk to them and try to get some things done.”
A rundown of the key points:
• Ireland said there is “certainly a likelihood” of using the franchise tag this year (the Dolphins last used it on nose tackle Paul Soliai in 2011), which would keep the player on the Dolphins for 2013 and pay him an average salary of the top five players at his position over the past five years.