The salary cap played a big part in the selection of the five players the Dolphins made available for the Feb. 18 expansion draft, and the biggest example of that was defensive tackle Tim Bowens.<P>

The Dolphins don't really want to lose Bowens, but they also can't have him back in 2002 unless he restructures his contract. Of course, the Houston Texans also could get Bowens to sign a new deal after selecting him, but they can't talk to him about restructuring his contract until after they select him.

That makes it somewhat unlikely the Texans will select Bowens in the expansion draft because they won't want a player with a cap figure in the $8 million range and they also won't want to take the chance of drafting Bowens and then not be able to get him sign to a new deal.

So it would appear the Dolphins' gamble on Bowens was a small one. Bowens and his agent apparently are willing to discuss restructuring his contract, and there has been no bitterness created by Bowens being placed on the expansion list.

Of the Dolphins players on the expansion list, it would appear that running back J.J. Johnson and tight end Hunter Goodwin would be the most likely candidates to be picked by Houston.

Johnson clearly needs a change of scenery, and he carries a relatively low price tag; Goodwin is a good player, and his price tag isn't that outrageous, either.

The other two Dolphins players on the expansion list, guard Heath Irwin and linebacker Scott Galyon, probably will have to restructure their contracts if they hope to return to the Dolphins in 2002.

That's assuming, of course, that they don't get picked by Houston.

The Texans will select between 30 and 42 players on Feb. 18, and no team can lose more than two players. The draft will take place from 2-5 p.m. and be televised by ESPN.

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