No, I'm not totally back yet. I still have a couple more days of vacation left. But I have some information I've shared with my followers on twitter -- you should follow me @ArmandoSalguero -- that I believe should be here as well.
Regarding Vonta Leach:
1. Today is a big day because it marks the first in which Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland is expected back at work after his vacation in, among other places, Australia. That return to work means he's able to actually talk to Leach agent Ralph Vitolo and negotiate a deal for the veteran if he's so inclined. The two have exchanged some text messages in the time both were on holiday during the past few weeks, but with training camp opening in less than a week and both sides at work, the stage is set for something to happen.
2. Is something going to happen at all? Well, the Dolphins want Leach for the right price. And Leach wants the Dolphins for the right price. (Isn't that always the case?) The Dolphins have made no secret of the fact coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman seriously want Leach for an offense that could use some veteran leadership and also needs an upgrade at fullback. Leach wants to play in Miami because he sees the Dolphins as an up-and-coming team that has a chance to challenge for the playoffs this year, assuming everything goes well. Leach, by the way, also has a good sense of the Dolphins system. That should not be a problem.
3. So what do the sides want from each other? Well, the Dolphins don't want to spend a ton on Leach. Nobody does with fullbacks anymore. The position players there are endangered species. But for the Dolphins it means superior lead blocking and experienced pass blocking on early downs. That's important because presumed starting halfback Lamar Miller is inexperienced and could use some veteran help. It's important because any help the Dolphins can give LT Jonathan Martin on early passing downs with Leach blocking in the backfield on pass plays is good. It's important because Leach can be a stabilizing figure in the huddle. He's been there and done that. For Leach, he wants the opportunity of making one last solid contract. I've reported he wants a two- or three-year deal. He doesn't want a one-year deal because he wants some sort of stability. He likes the idea of being a leader. He likes the coaches and has a comfort level with them.
4. So what can get in the way? Well, Leach has a standing offer to return to the Ravens if he wishes. My sense is it's a low-budget offer and that's the reason he hasn't taken it. He wants to do better. But, the Ravens loom nonetheless because they are comfortable for Leach, familiar to Leach, they're defending Super Bowl champions, and they're proven. I remind everyone the Ravens have this way of swooping in at the last minute and re-signing players they value. Yes, they've lost talent this offseason due to cap constraints, but they have a way of pulling surprise moves -- witness the Elvis Dumervil signing.
5. What does it all mean? The Dolphins have been trying to get better across the board at every position this offseason. They are clearly not thrilled with the work of Jovorskie Lane last year to the extent they can afford to offer him no training camp competition. If they sign Leach, Lane is in trouble. Leach would be the presumed starter and Lane's only chance of making the team is if Leach is a bust during camp or gets injured. Simply, Lane was inconsistent as a rookie. His weight, his knowledge of his assignments, his execution ... all inconsistent. It wasn't terrible. But the Dolphins simply want a chance to upgrade.
So we'll see what happens on this front ... See you later in the week.