Not long after the problems between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin surfaced it became obvious neither player had a future with the Dolphins.
The Dolphins wanted to divest from Incognito and had no intention of bringing him back. That was reported in this space early on during the scandal.
Soon, it also became clear Martin's future could not possibly be with the Dolphins, either. Players in the locker room were divided on him only in that some didn't care if he returned while others saw him as something of a quitter or worse and wanted no part of him on the team again.
No one actively campaigned for bringing him back. No one.
And it was reported in this space that Martin indeed would not be brought back but rather he'd be either traded or perhaps released. That was confirmed by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross a couple of weeks ago when he was asked if either of the two players would play for Miami again.
"I don't believe so," he said.
But now this ...
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport said on Wednesday night's Total Access that Martin may return to play for the Dolphins.
"As far as Jonathan Martin's future, I am told he does in fact want to play in 2014; he is excited about it and I am also told that his people have been in contact with the Dolphins on some level over the past couple weeks," RapSheet said.
"At the beginning of this, we all thought that there was no chance Jonathan Martin would return to the Dolphins because of the atmosphere. Now that the atmosphere has changed, I am told it is not outside the realm of possibility that Martin does return to the Dolphins when it's all said and done."
Pardon me while my mind explodes.
Composing myself ....
Still gathering ....
Alright, let's attempt to analyze this. First, with respect to Rapoport and his outstanding reporting, I don't believe Martin will ever play for the Dolphins again.
There has been a change in general manager but no change in atmosphere. Sure the next gathering of Dolphins players in a locker room will not include Incognito. Indeed, four-fifths of the offensive line might be gone next season.
But Mike Pouncey is still around. Brian Hartline is still around. Ryan Tannehill is still around. Players that were bothered, if not wholly angered by how Martin and his camp conducted his departure from the team and then slimed the team afterward are on the team. That has not changed.
Secondly, how stupid would the Dolphins have to be let Martin back in that locker room? The message they would be sending is if you are having personal troubles and you quit on us, even in the middle of a season and without any explanation to coaches or staff, we'll be fine with letting you come back when you are ready.
I am not doubting the reporting here. I am doubting the agenda of the source, however. It's simple: The Dolphins have zero leverage in trying to trade Martin. The entire NFL knows they want to do that. Ross let that slip and then tried to take it back during his press conference (Ross doing Ross) but that's not how it works. It was transparent that Miami wants to go in another direction.
So how does one rehabilitate that?
By saying, through sources or back channels, that Martin might return. By reaching out to Martin and letting him believe he has a future in Miami. By selling the idea that you, the Dolphins, may not necessarily trade this really good, really valuable left tackle after all.
There are only two small problems with this:
It is not likely to work unless you sell it really hard -- as in having general manager Dennis Hickey actually saying on the record the Dolphins might keep Martin and then actually letting him join the team for whatever work players will gather for in the early offseason. (Yeah, that would really help team chemistry and bonding.)
Secondly, you would have to be really dumb to keep this wound open and festering rather than simply cutting out the infected area and saving the rest of your body.