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AC In The AM: March Means Important Decisions

Posted Mar 7, 2016

An already busy offseason is about to get a whole lot busier for the Miami Dolphins. Call it the NFL’s version of March Madness.

(Andy Cohen In the Morning – AC in the AM – will appear on Dolphins.com during the offseason as events warrant. You can also follow AC in the AM by Twitter at @acohenfins).

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An already busy offseason is about to get a whole lot busier for the Miami Dolphins. Beginning today, teams are allowed to talk to unrestricted free agents. Signings can take place beginning Wednesday. Contracts are being restructured. Exclusive rights players are being tendered. Rosters are being paired. The draft looms large. Call it the NFL’s version of March Madness.

With that in mind, and with the Dolphins facing the challenging task of piecing together their pre-draft roster, some quick hits are in order:

• The move to restructure the contract of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was an important one. It gives the Dolphins additional flexibility and it is a clear indication that Suh is willing to do whatever he can to help offset his huge salary. This, and other moves, will allow the Dolphins to be a prudent player in the free agency market.

• Linebacker Koa Misi has also restructured his contract. Misi has been a solid player for this team, but he needs to come up with more impactful plays. Giving the team some additional financial flexibility will help buy him the time he needs to further refine his game.

• I hear a lot of people resigned to the fact that Olivier Vernon won’t be back because the Dolphins chose to place the transition tag on him instead of the franchise tag. Keep in mind, though, that the transition tag still allows the Dolphins to match any offer so, at the end of the day, the decision will still be theirs. I’m inclined to believe they will think long and hard before parting ways with Vernon.

• So unsigned veteran defensive end Mario Williams pays a weekend visit to Dolphins training camp. Hmmm. Very intriguing.

• You just know that Mike Tannenbaum and new General Manager Chris Grier have a plan firmly in place and priorities clearly in order. I really like the chemistry they have formed early on. There is no doubt they both understand the importance of the next few months.

• My thinking on the upcoming draft hasn’t changed. I believe the Dolphins will take the most impactful defensive player on the board with the eighth overall selection. I hear linebacker. I hear cornerback. I hear safety. It’s way too early to know for sure, but it is imperative to find a player who will make a difference right away.

• First impressions of new head coach Adam Gase? Energetic. Intelligent. Refreshing. Candid. Easy to approach. He’s got this confident look about him that almost screams “this is my time, I’m going to seize it.”

• This much is certain: Ryan Tannehill became a better quarterback the day the Dolphins hired Gase. The question remains: How much better?

• My sources tell me that Cameron Wake is recovering well from a torn Achilles and should be full go before training camp. Why aren’t I surprised?

• With Peyton Manning officially announcing his retirement from the NFL, it brought back memories of his first regular season start, which happened to be against the Dolphins on Sept. 6, 1998. Manning threw three interceptions that day – two of them picked off by Terrell Buckley – but also passed for more than 300 yards and a touchdown. Who knew then how his remarkable career would unfold? He will deservedly go down as one of the best to ever play his position, a class act both on and off the field.

• Finally, a thought about veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings, who the Dolphins released over the weekend. Jennings spent only one season here and he didn’t have the impact many of us figured he would have, mostly because receiver was perhaps the deepest area on the team. But Jennings was a class act, on and off the field. I saw him go out of his way to help at least a half dozen young players. It’s just too bad he couldn’t have come along earlier in his career.

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by our columnists and bloggers represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.