While rumors swirl around the Dolphins’ highest-paid receiver, Mike Wallace, the team has made a decision on its second highest-paid wideout. According to agent Drew Rosenhaus, Brian Hartline is being released by the club, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk tweets.
While Wallace’s deal, which carries the largest cap hit on the roster, will have to be dealt with at some point, Hartline’s contract was another obvious one for the team to address at some point prior to free agency. The veteran wideout’s cap number was set to increase to $7.35MM in 2015, and then to $7.55MM for each of the following two seasons. That may have been a reasonable price for the version of Hartline who averaged 75 receptions and 1,050 yards in 2012 and 2013, but the 28-year-old’s production dipped sharply in 2014, when he grabbed just 39 balls for 474 yards.
Since Hartline still had three years left on his deal, the annual $1.4MM charges for his signing bonus will all accelerate to 2015, leaving $4.2MM in dead money on the Dolphins’ books. Still, the move clears $3.15MM in cap room for the ’15 league year, and the club avoids paying Hartline’s $5.9MM base salary for the coming year.
Those cap savings for Miami could potentially be put toward re-signing tight end Charles Clay, who is expected to command a per-year salary in the neighborhood of $6MM. As for Hartline, like fellow veteran wideout Harry Douglas, who was also released today, he should generate some interest among teams seeking depth for their receiving corps, rather than clubs looking to add a high-level starter.