The Miami Dolphins elected not to franchise wide receiver Brian Hartline, but that doesn't mean they don't intend to keep him. Alex Marvez of FOX Sports is reporting that the Dolphins are nearing a deal with Hartline and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, that would keep him in Miami for multiple seasons.
According to the report, the contract would average between $6 and $6.5 million per season, though the length of the contract isn't specified. If the two sides want to get a deal done and Hartline likes where he's at, it will likely be for a good chunk of time given that Hartline is 26 years old and coming off the best season of his career.
In 2012, Hartline eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career, with 74 catches for 1,083 yards all together. He was a top target for rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and one of the bright spots on a Miami team that finished with a losing record last season. If there is one complaint about Hartline, it's that he struggled to be a weapon in the red zone last season, as he only hooked up with Tannehill for one touchdown through the air.
Still, Hartline should be an attractive option if he were to hit the open market. It's been noted that he's after a raise, but only in the range of around $5 to $6 million. Though it looks like the Dolphins will give him that raise, teams in free agency would certainly pay that amount if they're looking for a young No. 2 option.
Miami has a ton of cap space left, so it's likely they want to get Hartline signed prior to the start of free agency to keep him off the market and also so they know just how much money they have to work with. Many have suggested that they're going to go after one of the top free-agent wide receivers to pair with Hartline.
Free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET on March 12 so the Dolphins still have a few days to work out the kinks in Hartline's potential new deal.