A ranking Dolphins source told me several days ago, before the iron curtain of an NFL investigation locked the club down tighter than a tuna can, that Richie Incognito would never play for the Dolphins again.
There was apparently no way this football administration could see bringing back Incognito, who is suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and unsigned next year, to this roster after the allegations involving workplace harassment and racial epithets got out.
Well, what about the other player involved?
Could Jonathan Martin, who is on indefinite leave from the team albeit so far paid, ever be brought back?
First, I'm sure the club would hate to lose its second-round investment on an admittedly struggling but nonetheless starting player. Second, the club divesting itself of the portrayed victim in this case might open it up to legal exposure.
But here's the thing: Even if the Dolphins' administration would like to bring back Martin to avoid further problems or even civil action, the locker room does not necessarily look like it wants Martin back. Oh, some players are towing the company line and saying they want Martin to get better and be well. And some are admitting it is not really their call whether Martin returns or not.
But ask their opinion and it is clear the players' are not enthusiastic about the idea of Martin returning to the team. That's because, like it or not, Martin has violated a trust some players' minds.
"I'm not sure how everybody would feel about him, but I mean, that was his situation and he felt he needed to do it then I guess so be it, but some things you like to keep in house," left tackle Bryant McKinnie said.
And how important is that?
"It's pretty important, I mean, a lot of things need to kept in house because that's your family."
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, perhaps the most non-threatening player on offense and someone with an open mind, admitted re-integrating either Martin or Incognito would be difficult.
“It’s tough," Tannehill said. "Both guys at this point have their rights and wrongs. If they were allowed to come back, if they chose to come back, I’m big on forgiving people. Forgiving people of what they’ve done, getting past that and not crucifying people for their past and moving forward."
But even in stating he's big on forgiving, Tannehill is showing that he believes Martin needs forgiveness.
For what, you might ask?
Martin went AWOL from the team days before a big game. He has not spoken publicly but everyone in the organization and anyone who is following this story understands his representatives have downloaded information from the player and are leaking it to the media, thus sliming Incognito and the Dolphins.
And, ultimately, players don't quite know what to make of Martin anymore. So they do not trust him.
"I haven't been here very long," right tackle Tyson Clabo said. "But I've been here long enough to see that if there was a problem, Jonathan Martin needed to show it. And I've been here long enough to see that those two were thick as thieves and that they went out together and hung out together. They did a lot of stuff together. So if [Martin] had a problem with the way that guy was treating him, he had a funny way of showing it.
"I think that if you have a problem with somebody, a legitimate problem, you should say, 'Hey I have a problem and stand up and be a man.' ... There is no code of silence. I don't think that what happened was necessary. I think it's just [decency]. I don't know why he's doing this and the only person that knows why is Jonathan Martin."
It has been suggested by more than one former Dolphins player that I've talked to that the only way Martin could return to the Dolphins would be with a new coaching staff, new personnel department, and practically new locker room. In other words, the current Dolphins would have to be nuked for his return to work.
Others have told me Martin needs to apologize.
It's an interesting culture, the NFL, one where the alleged victim would have to apologize. But that is how it is.