The Dolphins have three players they need to get signed before training camp opens July 26 -- second-rounders Phillip Merling and Chad Henne and third-rounder Kendall Langford. And while the agents for all three predicted the week following the July 4th holiday would bring the start of serious negotiations, it has not brought a serious agreement.
All three will get done eventually, but there may not be an agreement until late next week at the earliest if the agents for the two second-rounders in particular follow the advice of the NFL Players Association.
The problem Henne and Merling are having with the Dolphins is the same as most second-rounders are having around the league: Because they sign four-year deals and there is no collective bargaining agreement in place for that fourth year (2011), it is creating problems in negotiations.
The problems stem from the fact most second-round deals the past couple of years have included a one-time bonus that was guaranteed in that fourth and final year of the deal. But that isn't available to players this year. Teams are offering to give the guarantee and bonus in the second year, but agents trying to protect their clients from being cut don't see that as a concession as most players picked that high wouldn't get cut in the second year of their deals anyway.
The NFLPA has cautioned all agents to proceed very slowly with their negotiations now through next week when the union and the NFL Management Council will go before a Special Master to iron out the issue.
The Special Master may or may not have a decision before the end of the week but if you have a calendar handy, you see where this is starting to get a little sticky.
Assuming the Special Master brings a decision by next week, that will clear the decks for the sides to strike a deal in approximately seven days before Miami's first practice. That doesn't make it impossible to get Henne and Merling signed and on the field for the first day of drills, but neither does it bode as an easy assignment.
So far only one player selected in the second round has signed a deal.
Thinking out loud: Wow I got through that without ripping a politician again today.