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4 posts from March 14, 2013

March 14, 2013

Dolphins interest in DE Michael Bennett makes sense

Agent Drew Rosenhaus has a gift for getting the Miami Dolphins interested in his clients.

Sometimes that's been a problem such as the year he got tight end Eric Green to Miami as the signature free agent signing when the team really needed a defensive end. Sometimes, it's blessing.

Consider this a better moment because the Dolphins are interested in prospective Tampa Bay free agent defensive end Michael Bennett, a Rosenhaus client.

Bennett, one of the top pass rushers on the free agent market, is visiting the Dolphins today, The Herald's Adam Beasley has confirmed. 

It makes sense.

Bennett, a five-year veteran, had nine sacks last season and the Dolphins desperately would like to add a classic 4-3 defensive end to put on the other side of the line opposite Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake.

Bennet also makes sense for Miami because of the familiarity. He played at Texas A&M under Mike Sherman, now the Dolphins offensive coordinator. It's not a stretch to believe Sherman knows his former player.

Bennett has 13 sacks in the last two seasons (in 30 games) and 15 sacks in his career. Tampa Bay has said it wants Bennett back but obviously has not done enough to get him.

Sean Smith to Kansas City

Turns out Vontae Davis had it right all along.

Sean Smith has agreed to a three-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, according to his agent.

That leaves a void for the Dolphins. But is anyone all that upset?

It should depend.

And it will, as many things do, depend on the money.

The Dolphins liked but didn't love Sean Smith. They never were intending to franchise him, as the Palm Beach Post reported. They never were intending to pay him the $8 million per season that Smith originally thought he'd be worth.

So the question becomes, how much did Smith actually get?

If Smith got his asking price (doubtful) then the Chiefs overpaid and you tip your hat to Smith and wish him well. Ciao!

Have fun covering Demaryius Thomas and playing against Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning twice a year.

If, however, the Chiefs were more careful with their dollars and got Smith for a bargain -- say, $2-$3 million per season -- then the Dolphins made a mistake not keeping Smith.

[Update: YahooSports.com reports the Smith contract is three-years for $18 million with $11 million guaranteed.]

Smith, supremely talented but also supremely inconsistent, was worth some money, some respect, if for no other reason than not allowing cornerback to become a glowing hole on the roster.

My feeling is this likely will land somewhere in between the two obvious choices of overpayment and underpayment.

In either case, the Dolphins now need cornerback help.

Yes, there are guys available in free agency. Brent Grimes is out there. Aqib Talib is out there, although when he came out in the draft, the Dolphins had major flags on him and he's done nothing to change that as a pro.

But I see the team seriously considering cornerbacks in the draft. I've been told the Dolphins really like Florida State's Xavier Rhodes. He's probably the second-best corner on the market. He's 6-1. He ran a 4.4 at the combine. He's played top competition. He has the measurables.

Is he a can't miss? No.

But he is probably a first round caliber pick.

And don't be surprised if the Dolphins double down at cornerback during the draft. They did that in 2009 with Vontae Davis in the first round and Sean Smith in the second round. Of course, that didn't exactly work out exceedingly well, as we close the book on both.

Mike Wallace contract numbers interesting

So Mike Wallace signed a five-year, $60 million deal, right? It had $30 million in guaranteed money, right?

Well, yes.

And no.

According to spotrac.com (very good website), records at the NFL Players Association and a source who has shared details with me, Wallace actually got $27 million in guaranteed money.

He got an $11 million signing bonus plus a guaranteed $1 million base salary in 2013. And his 2014 base salary of $15 million is guaranteed. That's $27 million guaranteed.

But the Dolphins also gave Wallace a $3 million guarantee if he's injured. That one only applies if the player's career ends and he cannot play out the final years of his deal.

So the agent can truthfully say it is a $30 million guarantee.

The beauty of the contract is Wallace's cap number is only $3.2 million in 2013. That's very, very low for a $60 million player.

The beast of the contract, however, is Wallace's cap number in 2014 shoots up to a whopping $17.2 million. That is the highest number of any NFL wide receiver save Larry Fitzgerald.

The numbers drop somewhat the following years. The 2015 base of $9,850,000 plus the $2,200,000 prorated signing bonus make the 2015 cap number a more managable $12.05 million. Interestingly, the base salary becomes completely guaranteed on the fifth day of the league year, according to spotrac.com

That means that if the Dolphins plan to keep Wallace that year, they simply do nothing. But if he has not lived up to his deal the previous two years and the team wants to cut ties, it will do so before that deadline.

Wallace's final two years -- 2016 and 2017 -- are mirror images financially. He's scheduled to earn $11,450,000 both years and cost $13,650,000 against the cap both years. 


As an aside, I offer you the Chris Clemons contract:

One year. $2.75 million. It contains $250,000 in signing bonus and a base salary of $2.5 million.

What does this mean?

The Dolphins like Chris Clemons.

They do not love Chris Clemons.

He's on the team to compete for a starting job. But if the Dolphins find someone better in the draft, he's still cheap enough to play on special teams and the contract makes it possible that he can even be cut for a relatively inexpensive $250,000 hit.

If I'm Chris Clemons, I work hard because I know I have a chance to start. But I don't feel all that safe.

Dolphins still vying for Jake Long even as he visits St. Louis

Jake Long, who has a gift for his economy of words when speaking with the media,also has a very vivacious and outgoing wife named Jackie.

That's right. Jake and Jackie Long.

Anyway, while Jake guards his privacy about as jealously as he does his quarterback's blind side, Jackie is more open. Jake has declined to speak with local media throughout his free agency period, selecting only national outlets to get out his message. Jackie, meanwhile, has a twitter account.

And that twitter account has been informative as to what's going on and how torn the couple is as they decide their future -- either with the Miami Dolphins or St. Louis Rams.

"Great dinner last night. Hoping to get everything figured out soon. No matter what happens we feel so fortunate." Jackie Long tweeted this morning from St. Louis where she and her husband awoke to a second day of a free agency visit.

Long spent nearly seven hours getting his physical from the Rams on Wednesday. Yes, perhaps the longest physical in the history of NFL free agency was probably a thorough investigation of the big man's multiple  former injuries -- biceps, triceps, knees, back, shoulders -- as the Rams decide how much they're willing to invest in Long.

As that physical was happening yesterday, Jackie Long had to correct an erroneous report in the South Florida Sun Sentinel that Long has agreed to terms with the Rams.

"Alright hold up everyone," Jackie Long tweeted minutes after the report went on the newspaper's website. "Nothing is official yet."

The report was vehemently denied through sources by the Rams who said not only was there no agreement, there were no terms that had even been discussed. The report was eventually taken down.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, remain hopeful they can get Long back. They have discussed contract details with Long's representation multiple times. They see Long taking trips as a way to set the market for his worth.

Long returning remains so important, the club was worried a tweet from Bryant McKinnie announcing he was on a plane to South Florida would be interpreted as him visiting the Dolphins and that would upset Long.

So the club made clear that no visit from McKinnie was scheduled so Long might not get upset and move on.

I don't read tea leaves. So I have no idea which way Long is going to go on this one. I know if the Rams had blown the Longs away on a contract, they were prepared to go that direction.

That obviously has not happened, at least not yet. And so the Dolphins are still vying to keep their left tackle. Their offer, which obviously wasn't what Long believed he was worth, is holding up so far.

[Update: NFL Network is reporting the Rams are negotiating a contract with Long.]

I'm told the Dolphins have a "Plan B" if Long bolts. They obviously will not implement that until Long makes a decision.