On the day after the 2009 season ended, I spent a few minutes chatting with Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano about the coming offseason. At the time, Fasano was still optimistic the NFL and the NFL Players Association would resolve their labor differences and somehow avoid an uncapped year.
"I''m still optimistic," Fasano said at the time, a big grin on his face. "I have no choice."
He had no choice because Fasano recognized an uncapped year would thrust him into a contract limbo of sorts. As a veteran with four accrued seasons, Fasano would have ordinarily been eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason.
But the uncapped year raised the requirements necessary to become a free agent to six seasons. So Fasano is a restricted free agent.
That means no movement for him or Miami's other two restricted free agents -- Ronnie Brown and Quentin Moses.
That will become official Thursday (April 15) when the the deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets with new teams passes. I can almost guarantee you Miami's restricted free agents will not sign with other teams.
We are only a couple of weeks from the April 22 draft and at this stage, most teams are hording draft picks rather than planning to give them up. So it is very unlikely anyone will give up a first-round pick for Brown, or a second-round pick for Fasano or a third-round selection for Moses -- the respective compensation levels the Dolphins placed on each player.
Thursday will likely come and all three players will be tied to the Dolphins despite not having contracts. None of the three has signed their restricted free agent tenders yet, either. That could change soon as it makes sense for the players to lock something up. A total of 73 restricted free agents have already signed their tenders around the league.
The tender for Brown pays $3,969,239, which is 110 percent of his 2009 base salary. The tender for Fasano pays $1,759,000. The tender for Moses pays $1,101,000.
Of course, all can still sign long-term deals but I don't think that's prudent for the Dolphins to offer right now. Brown is coming off another significant injury so why would Miami commit to him long-term without seeing how he's recovered. Moses isn't assured of making the team, and Fasano followed one good season with an off year in 2009. So it seems wise to hold off on making a long-term commitment to any of these guys, particularly with the labor rules being so murky beyond this year.
One more thing: Many of you have run to and fro on this blog with trade rumors, particularly for Brown. A player cannot be traded unless he has signed his tender.