Today is the deadline for teams to utilize their franchise tags on their unrestricted free agents. Today's deadline doesn't mean much for the Dolphins because they will not use that designation on any of their free agents.
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, speaking with the media at the Indy Combine, just confirmed the Dolphins will not franchise either right tackle Vernon Carey or strong safety Yeremiah Bell today. And, as we know, none of the other Miami free agents are going to carry a franchise tag either.
Miami's other unrestricted free agents include linebacker Channing Crowder, free safety Renaldo Hill and cornerback Andre' Goodman and center Al Johnson.
"I think every one of our free agents right now, without getting into tremendous detail, know our feeling and they know exactly where we stand at this particular time," Sparano said. "The free agents, they have options, we have options and they know there's been a lot of communication there from our end."
The Herald's Jeff Darlington, freezing in Indianapolis while I stay warm in South Florida, will provide a complete report on Sparano's talk to the South Florida and national media later this evening. Check miamiherald.com for the story.
So it now seems clear the Dolphins are prepared to lose any and all of their unrestricted free agents wthout securing any with the tag. I don't think they will lose them all. If I had to guess, Channing Crowder is gone.
Miami's best chances of retaining players will be with Goodman and Hill because I don't see a huge market for them in free agency. Carey worries me. He's going to get offers and I believe he's not giving the Dolphins a hometown discount.
Carey is problematic to me. With the expected signing of Jordan Gross to a deal later today, Carey becomes one of the best, if not the best tackle option in free agency. He's durable, he's young at 27 years old and, although he's better suited for right tackle, he has experience at left tackle.
Max Starks, a right tackle, and Khalif Barnes, a left tackle, are considered the only other starting-caliber tackles left in the free agent market. The other guys are journeymen such as former Dolphins John St. Clair or players with question marks such as Tra Thomas and Mark Tauscher.
It's not a good group. And that means Carey will garner attention. And that means the Dolphins had better have a trick up their sleeve to make this issue go away.
Disgust ... I mean, discuss ...
[Updated: Starks has been tagged according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. One less tackle will hit the market, meaning the likelihood of Carey hitting the market continues to increase.]