The Miami Dolphins like Jason Taylor. They say he's a good player and sincerely believe they have a good relationship with him. Coach Tony Sparano believes he and Taylor are as tight as an employer-employee relationship allows, while general manager Jeff Ireland believes he and Taylor's agent Gary Wichard have an open and honest association.
So the Dolphins are not seriously sweating Taylor's visit to the New York Jets.
The Dolphins know what Taylor would like to be paid in 2010 and they say Wichard knows the value they have placed on Taylor. No, the Dolphins haven't made an official contract offer to Wichard for reasons they believe to be sound business, but they insist "everyone knows where everyone stands." There is, by the way, a difference of opinion between the parties about Taylor's value.
But, the Dolphins believe if Taylor gets an offer from the Jets Thursday, or anyone else in the coming days, they will have the opportunity to adjust their opinion.
The Dolphins believe they will have a chance to match any offer any team makes Taylor.
Perhaps that is true. Perhaps it isn't. But that's what the Dolphins believe. So from a purely cold, unemotional, business aspect, nothing the Dolphins are doing really can be deemed wrong or a mistake.
Dealing with Jason Taylor is not and cannot be just about cold hard facts. It cannot be just about legal tender green dollars.
Taylor wants to be loved, maybe even wooed. He definitely wants to be shown respect because after 13 NFL seasons he rightly believes he's earned that. And the New York Jets are showing him that love and respect at a time when Taylor doesn't think the Dolphins are.
On Wednesday, the Jets flew Taylor to New York for a free agent visit. He and his wife Katina were picked up by limousine and taken to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a five-star facility overlooking Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan. The Jets later put Taylor in a helicopter and flew him to their new stadium in New Jersey. The place is in a wasteland called the meadowlands but the Jets sold it to Taylor as his new home he can help decorate with a Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The Jets wined Taylor. They dined Taylor. And Rex Ryan repeated to Taylor what he told Wichard the past couple of days as he was setting up this visit: If Taylor signs with the Jets, he will have between 12-15 sacks in 2010 because Ryan would use him as a pass-rusher coming from every imaginable and unpredicatable location on the field except perhaps the pressbox.
Jason Taylor was never recruited by bigtime college programs before he went to Akron but by Wednesday night he definitely knew what it's like to be wanted.
And that is the biggest difference between the Dolphins and Jets right now. The Jets have the Dolphins over a barrel on style if not necessarily on substance.
The Jets may not be able to pay Taylor very much at this time because they are limited by NFL Final Four rules imposed on clubs that made it to the conference title games. Taylor would like to make approximately $3 million per season and he would like a two-year deal because he wants to play two more seasons. Under the rules, the Jets seemingly can't get much higher than $1.5 million in the first year of the deal and cannot raise Taylor's 2011 salary more than 30 percent to $1.95 million.
But the Jets are nonetheless chasing Taylor like he is invaluable.
The Dolphins? They're the team that made it clear to Taylor last year he had to earn his roster spot after he signed. They're the club that isn't showing its cards or any emotion in dealing with Taylor. The Dolphins are the club that have returned some but not all of the calls from Taylor or his agent this offseason.
That matters to Taylor. And so does this:
Taylor has noticed that Miami signed Jason Ferguson this offseason after he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs but they keep him at arm's length. The Dolphins have signed Chad Pennington when his shoulder might or might not be 100 percent going forward but they're biding their time on re-signing the same Jason Taylor who played an entire month with a bum shoulder last season.
Understand that the Dolphins don't see any problem here. They see nothing wrong with approaching folks in a direct and candid way or putting other folks on the back burner when necessary. But one man's candid is another man's tactless. One man's back burner is another's contempt. That's perhaps a reason safety Ryan Clark returned to the Steelers rather than signing with the Dolphins.
Clark didn't get more money from Pittsburgh than he might have from Miami. But he felt he got a whole lot more love.
The Dolphins are not big on that love thing. They don't show everyone a lot of love and particularly not to Taylor for some strange reason.
While Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick were calling Taylor's agent multiple times last year, the Dolphins acted like they were doing Taylor a favor in signing him at a bargain $1.5 million price. And Ryan's continuing chase of Taylor this year is in sharp contrast to Wichard approaching Ireland at the Indianapolis Combine in February and having to sell Taylor as a sound investment, like a pitchman stumping for his product.
Again, nothing wrong with Miami's substance. But the style raises eyebrows.
It is clear that all things being relatively equal, Taylor would love to continue playing for the Dolphins. The Dolphins know this and are absolutely using it to their advantage. And that's fine. The NFL is, after all, a business and Ireland is trying to conduct good business by getting the best deal for his team.
But good business is also about having good timing. And while the Jets are acting in their own timing, the Dolphins are banking on reacting to a New York offer.
Good business is also about keeping a good relationship. And there is no room in a good relationship for being lukewarm when someone else is being red hot.
Good business, in short, is also about style -- especially when it threatens to affect substance.