It appears that the Dolphins have decided to replace Olivier Vernon with Mario Williams to save some cap space. Mario Williams will cost $16M over the next two seasons while Vernon would have cost the Dolphins about $12.7M for 2016 alone. While Mario Williams had a down season in 2015 under a new system, he had been consistent pass rusher throughout his Buffalo career, recording three straight seasons with double digit sacks. While he was massively overpaid by Buffalo in free agency, he is still a four time Pro Bowler who has a lot left in the tank. In the short term, Williams is likely a better player who will be playing for approximately 2/3 the price.
Now for the long term. The Dolphins' mismanagement of the cap (see the life and times of Tanny) has forced them to let their home grown talent walk in free agency. Not only is he home grown, but he is still only 25 and on the rise. He outplayed Williams in 2015 and will likely be considered one of the top players in free agency. The Dolphins will only have 2 years with the 31 year old Williams, while a long term deal with Vernon could have solidified the defensive line for years to come. While the move makes sense for a team in the Dolphins' position, it underscores the problem with massive free agency spending sprees. As a result of paying big bucks for players like Suh, the Dolphins will have to let their young talent walk. The Jets haven't had a lot of home grown success stories in recent years, but they have a similar situation with Damon Harrison this year. Heavy spending in free agency is fun in the off season, but Maccagnan will have to make much more measured decisions over the next few seasons now that the Jets actually have some young, drafted talent.