The Dolphins extended running back Ricky Williams' contract before this season began and now sources tell me the team is doing business on other contract fronts as well.
The Dolphins recently have exchanged contract extension proposals with strong safety Yeremiah Bell, with the idea of locking up that starter beyond 2008. Bell is currently playing out a one-year deal he signed after last season.
Agent Drew Rosenhaus is traveling and could not be reached for comment and his brother Jason Rosenhaus declined to comment. But a source close to Bell says there have been on-going discussions between the player's camp and the Dolphins.
No deal is imminent. But both sides are eager for the regular-season to begin and offer a gauge of what Bell can deliver. Bell missed all of last season when he ruptured an Achilles tendon in the season-opener.
So the Dolphins want to see Bell play up to the potential he showed during the 2006 season and in the 2007 and 2008 training camps. That would convince them to lock up Bell. Bell, confident he has come back from that injury, obviously wants to show the Dolphins he can play at a high level and stay healthy.
Both sides are expected to continue exchanging proposals because it makes sense to lock up Bell before the season ends and he becomes an unrestricted free agent. For the Dolphins, a new contract would lock up a starter and perhaps the most explosive player in their secondary in a year they have plenty of cap space to do that.
For Bell, signing an extension before the end of the season makes sense because it would put money in his pocket immediately rather than waiting for free agency. It would also provide Bell security knowing where he's going to be playing next year and beyond.
The Dolphins have two other notable players in the final year of their contracts. Starting inside linebacker Channing Crowder and starting right tackle Vernon Carey are both unrestricted free agents after this season.
A different source tells me the Dolphins have not reached out to those players and have not had preliminary discussions about extensions.
Despite this, I look for all three of these players to be locked up with new deals before the end of this season, assuming they remain healthy. I can't see the Dolphins not acting proactively on this matter.
But frankly, the deals for Carey and Crowder will be more difficult to get done. Both those deals will have to be multi-year, large signing bonus deals because that is what both those players will command on the open market.
If any of the three players mentioned in this post make it to free agency, I would think Crowder is the most likely to do that. I am told Crowder would not mind testing free agency.