Capitals

Stability for a change at the top for Dolphins

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Stability for a change at the top for Dolphins

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) The most dramatic difference for the Miami Dolphins this offseason will be what won't change: the coach or quarterback.

The Dolphins courted a new coach in January each of the past two years and have perennially been in the market for an upgrade at QB, but both jobs are settled now.

Coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill are certain to be back for a second season with Miami. Other positions are less secure, however, with a significant roster shake-up expected in the wake of the Dolphins' fourth consecutive losing season.

A 28-0 loss Sunday at New England underscored the yawning talent gap between the Dolphins and the AFC East champions. Miami finished 7-9 and is 27-37 since 2009.

``Seven-and-nine is not good enough,'' Philbin said Monday. ``Your goal is to compete for championships. So there should be nobody on our team satisfied with where we're at. We've got a lot of work to do.''

General manager Jeff Ireland has stockpiled draft picks and created sufficient salary cap space to provide lots of flexibility this offseason. Philbin prefers to build through the draft, and 10 picks, including five in the first three rounds, will give the Dolphins plenty of chances to address their multitude of needs.

With more than $40 million in cap space, Ireland might be active in free agency, but some of that money will be used to re-sign players whose contracts expire. Among those who could become free agents are running back Reggie Bush, injury-plagued tackle Jake Long, receiver Brian Hartline, tight end Anthony Fasano, defensive tackle Randy Starks, cornerback Sean Smith and safety Chris Clemons.

``We have a good nucleus of guys, building blocks we can build on going into next year,'' Tannehill said. ``It's just going to be a matter of taking advantage of the offseason and making the right moves. I'm excited that the guys upstairs will do a good job of bringing guys in here, and we can plug them in and grow from there.''

While the Dolphins managed only one more victory than in 2011, and remain without a postseason win since 2000, the additions of Philbin and Tannehill provided a sense of stability for a change. Both won rave reviews from the locker room.

``I like where this team is headed,'' Bush said. ``What coach Philbin brings to this team is really special.''

Tannehill, the first quarterback drafted in the first round by Miami since Dan Marino in 1983, became the first Dolphins rookie QB to start all 16 games. While touchdowns were tough to come by, he threw for 3,294 yards, more than acclaimed rookie classmates Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson.

``Tannehill's great, man,'' center Mike Pouncey said. ``We got lucky when we picked that kid. He's going to be a great player in this league for a long time.

``Obviously we've got to get him some help out there.''

That will be the priority. No wide receiver scored more than one touchdown, reflecting the lack of a pass-catching deep threat. If Bush departs, there will be even more need for playmakers to bolster an offense that ranked 27th in yards.

A cornerback, pass rusher and tight end are among the other needs. Most of all, the Dolphins need stars - defensive end Cameron Wake was the only player to make the Pro Bowl.

Pouncey was candid in his postseason assessment.

``This team did a great job this year,'' he said, ``for what we had.''

Long finished the year hurt for the second season in a row, and he may be allowed to depart even though he's a four-time Pro Bowl tackle. More likely to return are Hartline, coming off the best year of his career, and Bush, who played in every game for the first time since 2006 and fell just shy of his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season.

``It has been a pleasure to play here these last two years,'' Bush said. ``I've really enjoyed; I feel like there's some unfinished business left. We'll see what happens when we sit down and contract time comes, but hopefully I'll be back.''

For now, the Dolphins will scatter. Tannehill wants to explore the city of Miami - he has spent a total of three hours there - and catch up on TV shows. Pouncey's heading to Hawaii to watch his brother play in the Pro Bowl. Smith looks forward to forgetting about football for a while.

``I'm going to kick back, relax, chill out,'' Smith said, ``and enjoy the beach.''

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler