INDIANAPOLIS -- Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland is considered blessed. He has roughly $46 million to spend in free agency, more than almost every other NFL team, and a decent crop of free agents to choose among.
Despite that, and a previously-stated need to acquire playmakers on both sides of the ball -- Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace has been mentioned recently -- Ireland said he doesn't feel an obligation to sign a big-name free agent.
"I don't really feel the pressure that it has to be a name guy," Ireland said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "If that particular player we think is going to help our football team move forward and take a big step, if he has a big name, great."
As for re-signing the Dolphins' free agents, Ireland said nothing has been decided on the most prominent players, such as left tackle Jake Long, cornerback Sean Smith, running back Reggie Bush, wide receiver Brian Hartline, safety Chris Clemons and defensive tackle Randy Starks.
However, Ireland seemed positive about Smith.
"We had a meeting the other day and I left optimistic," Ireland said, "but we still have a long way to go."
NFL teams have until March 8 to re-sign their own free agents. Players can negotiate with and visit other teams starting March 9, and sign contracts beginning March 12.
Ireland said he's been in touch with Long, who ended the season on injured reserve for the second consecutive year.
"We've talked with Jake, we've talked with his representative as well, we've made our desire to have him back on this football team known," Ireland said, "but that's a tricky one ... there's a lot of things that you normally don't have in that particular case, some of the details I don't want to get into, but it's just a complicated negotiation."
Ireland said the Dolphins "certainly" would like to have Bush back. However, Miami also has backup Lamar Miller, the University of Miami product, waiting to play.
As for Starks, a Pro Bowl player, it'd be difficult for the Dolphins to break up the run-stuffing defensive tackle combination of Starks and Paul Soliai. But there's also been speculation the Dolphins could move defensive tackle Jared Odrick to defensive end, something that could make re-signing Starks critical.
"It's very important to have Randy back if we can get it done," Ireland said. "I'm not really worried about where we're playing Odrick. The fact of the matter is we have a very good defensive line and keeping that intact is a focus of mine."
The secondary is an area where the Dolphins could use some of the aforementioned playmakers. Miami could return a group of experienced cornerbacks among Nolan Carroll, Dimitri Patterson and Bryan McCann. But Ireland doesn't think that necessarily gives the Dolphins any leverage against re-signing Smith.
"Sean has started almost every single game he's been in since 2008, so having that continuity back with Sean is important," Ireland said, "but we'll have to see how that thing goes."
Starks ($8.3 million) and Smith ($10.6 million) might be the top candidates to get the franchise tag, but Ireland was non-committal.
"In terms of this year, there's certainly a likelihood that we could use it," Ireland said of the franchise tag. "But on particularly who, right now we haven't made that decision yet."
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