According to official salary-cap information obtained by The Palm Beach Post
, the Dolphins head into the free agency period - which begins at 4 p.m. March 13 - having already committed more than $116 million against next season's salary cap, which is expected to be about $123 million. That is an increase of about $3 million compared to last year.
While Marshall and Dansby are two of the Dolphins' best players, they still might be forced to restructure their contracts to give the Dolphins salary-cap relief.
Because they are in their primes, they would have far more bargaining power than offensive lineman Vernon Carey did last season. To remain with the Dolphins, he agreed to void the final three years of his contract. He no longer is under contract but he counts $4.8 million against the cap because of a bonus he received previously.
Other players with cap numbers that could make them targets are safety Yeremiah Bell, who will be 34 in a couple of weeks and has the fourth-highest cap number ($6.2 million); running back Reggie Bush ($6 million), defensive lineman Randy Starks ($5 million), defensive end Tony McDaniel ($4.157 million) and receiver Davone Bess ($3.033 million).
Ireland has some wiggle room as well. The collective bargaining agreement adopted last summer allows teams to roll over unused 2011 cap space to 2012, as long as they make a written request to the league office. The Dolphins used only 92 percent of their cap space last year, giving Ireland the ability to request an additional $9.05 million in cap money on top of the projected $123 million.
He also has the ability to use $1.5 million in salary-cap credits on veteran players under contract and with five-plus years of experience.