The Miami Dolphins have plenty of cap space and an owner more than willing to spend big money (as they pronounced to candidates on countless occasions during their bizarre and meandering general manager search). What they do not have, however, is much institutional strength or proven know-how, with the lingering dysfunction of that GM search still a topic in league circles as the combine quickly approaches and the results of Ted Wells' investigation into the team's locker room culture still not released. The Dolphins also have a roster that will need major repair. They don't have much time, either, with free agency opening in a month, and plenty of their own players with expiring contracts to deal with before then. Rookie general manager Dennis Hickey is facing a massive task of trying to sell his vision and plan when the reality is a handful of others passed on the job before owner Stephen Ross settled on the longtime Tampa exec as the man to replace fired Jeff Ireland. Oh, and that element of time will hang over everything Hickey and the Dolphins do in 2014, because no one in the NFL would be surprised if Ross blows up his front office and coaching staff again next January should Miami remain mediocre at best. And, given what this organization has become over the last decade or so, it's impossible for me to project a ceiling above pedestrian football. As for a floor, that would be more sweeping organizational chaos with some of the more polarizing figures in the franchise seemingly now more empowered by the aftermath of the general manager circus. First, the good news: Miami, despite its ill-fated free-agent splurge (largely overpaying for guys like Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler and Brian Hartline -- which helped them go from seven wins in 2012 to eight in 2013) still rolled over $18M of unused cap space into 2014. It has about $32M to spend on players. The reality of course is that all teams have budgets, and while Ross is positioned to throw money around again -- and sold his GM candidates on as much -- there are so many holes to fill that a bulk of it will need to be spent internally just trying to keep some free agents from leaving.
New GM, same old problems for Dolphins despite cap space
CBS Sports | Feb 7