DANA POINT, Calif. -- The Dolphins are in draft pick collection mode now.
They have traded center Samson Satele because, as I write in my column for Monday's paper, Bill Parcells has his sights set on 2010 when the team might have 12 unrestricted free agents, assuming there is a collective bargaining agreement reached in the next year. Barring an agreement, the rules about who is and isn't a free agent change, but the Dolphins are going by today's rules looking forward.
Anyway, the only way the Dolphins believe they can overcome a potential exodus of a dozen players in 2010 is by loading up on draft picks in 2009.
So Satele is off to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for an undisclosed pick, bringing back to nine the number of picks Miami will have in the April draft. [Update: The Dolphins have confirmed the trade. ESPN.com is reporting the pick is a sixth-rounder, which seems kind of low to me considering Satele has started 32 games and could have been a good option as a backup center or guard.]
[Update 2: This trade also makes Jake Grove the unquestioned starting center for the team. "We obviously invested a lot of money in Jake," general manager Jeff Ireland said today from the meetings. "We had an opportunity to upgrade at the center position with Jake and did that. And then we had a chance to add draft pick value with this trade so we decided that was the best thing to do. We think it will work out well both ways.]
[Update 3: Ireland confirmed the trade is for a sixth round pick and the teams are also swapping picks in the fourth round. The Dolphins will now have the eighth pick of the fourth round while Oakland drops down and takes the 26th pick of the round, the pick the Dolphins previously owned.
[Update 4: So we know Grove is the starting center. Who is the backup center? There will be a competion. Ireland said Joe Berger and Andy Alleman will be the guys who will compete. "We've got some candidates," Ireland said.]
But it will not end there, if the Dolphins have
there their way.
Trade time has come to Miami!
And it says here a number of players on the roster are available for the right price. Quarterback John Beck is available. Receiver Ernest Wilford is available even though trading him would accelerate his bonus money on the salary cap. Same with cornerback Jason Allen. And that 25th overall pick in the upcoming draft?
It might also be available in the right trade-down scenario that would bring Miami later, but extra picks.
It may surprise you to read Allen and the first-round pick might be available. But here's the lowdown on those:
Dolphins coaches are not convinced Allen has what it takes to make it in Miami despite his prototype size and good athletic ability.
I have been told that although the Dolphins continue to hold out hope that the lightbulb will come on for Allen, and although he is a very good special teams player, there is one major frustration about his play: In times of crisis, when it is nitty-gritty time, he seems to abandon all that he has been taught. He reverts to old instincts and ways, and doesn't stick with the technique he's been taught.
That basically means the Dolphins are starting to worry he's not coachable.
That might not be a big problem on a team with a more free-wheeling system. But unless Allen starts to become more focused on technique and details and fundamentals as taught by this coaching staff, he'll never be a starter in Miami and may not even be in Miami an exceedingly long time.
As to the draft pick: The Dolphins have a number of players they like and a number of needs they need to fill so that, believe it or not, is a positive. But I am told by a high-ranking team source, the players the team likes most in the draft will probably be gone in the 10-15 slots. The Dolphins would love to be anywhere in that number.
But they are at No. 25. And the players likely to be available there aren't exactly wowing the Dolphins because similar players might also be available five to 10 slots later. So the Dolphins might be interested in trading down.
By the way, Bill Parcells is not at the owner's meetings here in lovely Orange County. But, surprisingly, neither is owner Stephen Ross. As I reported first on Sunday, Ross was scheduled to fly on his private jet along with coach Tony Sparano and his wife and media relations vice president Harvey Greene and general counsel and salary cap guru Matt Thomas.
But the owner came down with something at the last minute and missed the flight. It is unclear what he has and it is not known if he will be at the meetings at all. Ross is not at the meetings Monday so it seems he's sitting this one out altogether.
[BLOG NOTE: Be sure to check back often on Monday and Tuesday because I'll have updates as stuff happens from the annual owner's meeting.]