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4 posts from April 24, 2013

April 24, 2013

Davone Bess, man on the outs, on the trade block

The first thing everyone thought when the Dolphins re-signed Brian Hartline and added receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson was that Davone Bess was on the outs.

The Dolphins denied it.

When coach Joe Philbin was asked if Bess was in the team's long-term plans he said:

“Absolutely. Yeah," Philbin said. "As you guys know, I envision us bringing 10 or 12 guys to training camp. We’re going to get a lot of reps as we see and we’re going to let guys go out there and compete and earn spots and take it from there."

Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland also said Bess would not be traded.

Well, the Chicago Sun-Times just reported the Dolphins are in talks with various teams, most notably the Cleveland Browns, about trading Davone Bess. The newspaper also reported the compensation being discussed is mid-round compensation at best.

The Herald's Adam Beasley confirmed Bess is being shopped. And he is also reporting a trade is more likely than not.

Bess is under contract for one more year and is scheduled to be a free agent after 2013. A deal would likely include a new contract for Bess.

So what could this mean?

I mean aside from the fact one cannot believe anything an NFL team, it's coach or GM say ...

Tavon Austin.

If the Dolphins deal Bess, they could be planning the acquisition of the playmaking West Virginia slot receiver either with the No. 12 pick in the draft or with a draft trade up.

I was on a national writers' mock draft Tuesday and Austin went to the New York Jets with the No. 9 overall pick.

Texas A&M wide receiver Ryan Swope, a favorite of former coach and Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, also becomes a serious possibility. (This makes more sense to me).

Bess, who caught 61 passes for 778 yards in 2012, cannot be pleased by this news. If he isn't dealt, it becomes clear to everyone what we all assumed but the Dolphins denied: Bess is a man on the outs in the Miami offense.

If Bess is not dealt, the Dolphins could easily cut him. He is going to cost $3.433 million against the cap in 2013. The Dolphins can save $2.633 million by simply cutting him. They would take a $750,000 cap hit. Obviously this is not the best option, but it would open the roster spot.

Me? I'd be surprised if Davone Bess remains with the Dolphins past this weekend.

Holdup in Albert trade: Miami's deal with KC

The Dolphins have the parameters of a contract ready and practically agreed with left tackle Branden Albert. The sides -- the player and the Dolphins -- have an understanding of what it will cost in money compensation to get a contract done.

That's apparently not a problem.

The problem, as first reported by the NFL Network, is draft choice or player compensation between the Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs.

It is not known what the Chiefs want in return for Albert. It is not known what the Dolphins are willing to give for Albert. That part is all speculation. The consensus is that the exchange could involve a second round pick in the draft that begins Thursday night and continues Friday and Saturday.

The Dolphins have two second-round selections.

The Dolphins, as Steve Wyche of NFL-AM reported, are the only team talking to the Chiefs about trading for Albert.

By the way, the Dolphins and the Chiefs are gaining quite a history of trade emnity. They disagreed on compensation for sending Patrick Surtain to KC before getting it done. They disagreed on compensation for sending Trent Green to Miami before getting it done.

My sense is the two teams will get this done. Eventually.

Me? I'd offer the Chiefs one of my third round picks this year or a 2014 second rounder. And then I'd call them Saturday. Trust me, Branden Albert will still be on the trade block then.

Branden Albert and Dolphins talking again

The on-again, off-again talks between the Dolphins and the Branden Albert camp are on-again and they are quite hot right now, a club source is telling me this morning.

On Tuesday I sent out multiple texts to club sources and, as expected, got the silent treatment across the board. (I'v been told by sources that when I don't get responses, that usually means something is happening). But this morning I got one response and this team source tells me the Dolphins remain interested in Albert, are talking with Albert's camp, want to give him a physical, and will be talking to the Chiefs about him in the coming hours or days.

So this possible trade for the Kansas City Chiefs left tackle -- derailed recently by the Chiefs' wanting high draft compensation for him, the Dolphins declining to make a significant and tangible offer, and the Albert contract demands -- is back on track.

There are still hurdles apparently so it is too early to say this will definitely happen. But my sense is we're getting to that point where all the parties want answers and the answer is going to be get it done. The NFL draft begins tomorrow at 8 p.m.

I cannot say with certainty, but my speculation is the Dolphins would like to know by that time what Albert's health status is. That means they'd probably like to get him a physical by then. It's possible the Chiefs won't allow a physical before a trade is agreed to and make the trade contingent on that physical -- as is custom in most trades. So already you have different agendas at work.

It remains interesting to me that the draft-choice or player compensation to the Chiefs is more of a sticking point for the Dolphins than the contract with the player.

It boggles because the Albert camp wants significant money. Reports have been that Albert, who is currently signed to a $9.8 million franchise tender, wants to average $9 million per season and he wants it structured so that he's protected from being cut after just one year. The $9 million is elite left tackle money and one can argue that Albert is a good player but not an elite player.

The Dolphins, which have approximately $9 million in salary cap space now but get another $10 million after June 1 (from the release of Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett), have the necessary cap room to sign Albert and eventually sign their draft picks.

 

Players Dolphins might trade at No. 12

The first thing you must understand about draft trades is that intelligent and successful general managers do not trade for draft picks. They trade for players.

That's why the second overall pick last year was worth a mint to the Washington Redskins. They didn't trade for the slot. They traded for Robert Griffin III.

That's why the second overall pick in this year's draft won't be worth nearly as much to anyone interested. The reason is a team would be trading for Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel or Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah. Not the same value as RG3.

And so in discussing trade up possibilities for the Dolphins consider what player the team would covet so as to give up its own No. 12 pick plus multiple more picks this year and next to climb five or six slots. Who is worth that?

Is Dee Milliner, the most versatile cornerback in the draft, worth that? He's not Deion Sanders, people. Indeed, some teams are concerned about his durability because of the number of times he's required surgery to correct various problems.

Is Ziggy Ansah worth that? The kid is a project. Yes, he might become Jason Pierre Paul. Or he might become a tremendous bust who never figures it out.

Are either Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel worth that kind of ransom? Let me rephrase, are they worth giving up a No. 1 this year, a No. 1 next year and probably both No. 2s this year and perhaps another next year? Some of you are freaking out because the Dolphins might give up second-rounder for Branden Albert but you'd be ok with mortgaging this draft and possibly next for Fisher or Joeckel?

When you do the exercise this way it becomes hard to fathom the Dolphins trading up in this draft unless the price for doing so has dropped dramatically.

Remember, the Dolphins are not one player away from going to the Super Bowl.

There is not a sure-fire superstar that will make 10 Pro Bowls among the first 11 players of this year's draft. I've had two NFL personnel men tell me there are more likely six solid players and multiple busts in the group.

So that out of the way, let us concentrate on what players will available at No. 12 that the Dolphins would be willing to trade away.

That's right, what player that will never play for Miami is Miami willing to trade to another team wanting that player. That's how you must think of it. It's not Miami selling the No. 12 pick. It's Miami selling a player another team covets.

Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei will probably be available at No. 12.

Quarterback Geno Smith will probably be available.

Wide receiver Tavon Austin might be available.

Wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson will probably be available.

OLB Jarvis Jones will probably be available.

The two prized guards -- Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack --  will probably be available.

Of all those players, I see only three that might create enough of a buzz to cause a team to try to get up to No. 12 to get them. Those players are Lotulelei, Austin and Smith.

Smith is intriguing because if he's not drafted by Arizona, Cleveland or Buffalo, he's going to fall at least to No. 13 and the New York Jets. So a team wanting him has to get ahead of the Jets, which is perfect for the Dolphins.

Who might be interested? Obviously, this is all conjecture but Minnesota might want a QB.

Lotulelei is one of four defensive tackles that are likely to be drafted in the first round, along with Sharrif Floyd, Sheldon Richardson and Sylvester Williams.  

What teams might covet him more than the Dolphins do?

The Cowboys want DT help. So does San Francisco. So does Minnesota.

Austin is a wildcard. Yes, he's too small. Yes, he might be gone (perhaps to the Jets at No. 9). But if he's there, he might draw the attention of multiple teams that badly want a playmaker.

St. Louis might be interested. They've got two first round picks --  at Nos. 16 and 22.

San Francisco makes sense. The 49ers have 13 picks this draft but nowhere near 13 available roster spots. Seattle is loading up on defense. The 49ers lost Randy Moss and, ahem, Ted Ginn Jr. Anything  to help their young QB?

The point is think players when thinking draft trades. Don't think picks.