- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Miami Dolphins finished the 2012 season with a 7-9 record.
Here are the biggest reasons to be hopeful and concerned about Miami heading into the offseason:
Reason for hope: Draft picks and cap room
The Dolphins project to have well over $40 million in cap space this offseason. They will be major players in free agency and looking to greatly improve their roster. The Dolphins have needs at receiver, tight end, cornerback and the offensive line. Miami also must decide which of its own pending free agents to keep. One of the biggest decisions is what to do with starting left tackle Jake Long. The four-time Pro Bowler is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March and is looking to cash in big. Long would eat up a lot of Miami's cap space this year if he is re-signed or gets the one-year franchise tag. Miami also has five draft picks in the first three rounds due to recent trades of receiver Brandon Marshall and cornerback Vontae Davis. With plenty of resources, expect Miami to have a more dynamic and talented roster in 2013 that better suits first-year head coach Joe Philbin.
Reason for concern: GM Jeff Ireland
Dolphins fans have a love-hate relationship with their general manager, and that's understandable considering his track record. Miami is 13-19 the past two seasons under Ireland. He's done a solid job in the draft, with recent hits like quarterback Ryan Tannehill and center Mike Pouncey. But Ireland's track record in free agency has been questionable. Last year alone, Miami's biggest free-agent signings were cornerback Richard Marshall, quarterback David Garrard and receiver Chad Johnson. All were major busts. That should make Dolphins fans at least a little nervous going into this year's open market. The Dolphins will be big spenders in free agency, but none of that matters unless Ireland proves he can make the right decisions.