« February 28, 2014 | Main | March 4, 2014 »

3 posts from March 3, 2014

March 03, 2014

Dolphins decline to play tag

Last season the Dolphins made Randy Starks their franchise player. The Dolphins also used their franchise tag on a tackle in 2011 when they used it on Paul Soliai.

So former general manager Jeff Ireland used the franchise tag twice in the last three seasons -- both times on a defensive tackle.

Change is afoot, folks.

This year new GM Dennis Hickey had the chance to use the tag on either of the two DTs because both pending free agents hit the market and he declined to use it on either.

The Dolphins indeed did not use the franchise or transition tag on any player Monday.

So the Dolphins won't be guaranteeing a huge sum of money on either of their tackles and that seems to be a plus. But that plus has the potential to backfire if the Dolphins lose both their interior defensive line veterans when free agency begins.

That possibility now exists because the team must lock up either Starks or Soliai before March 11 when free agency begins.

The Dolphins continue discussions with both players, according to a league source. But those talks have not advanced to the point a signing is imminent.


Dolphins visiting with UFA D'Qwell Jackson

D'Qwell Jackson did good work in Cleveland but was cut for salary cap reasons last week. Well, he's gotten a jump on unrestricted free agency and is including the Dolphins among his scheduled visits.

Jackson, 30, is scheduled to visit the Dolphins starting tonight, according to the Tennessean in Nashville. Jackson has already visited the Titans and Broncos already.

Jackson isn't looking to sit on the bench. He's been a starter and expects to continue starting somewhere.

The Dolphins must know that. And if they're still serious enough to bring him in, they obviously believe that can happen despite the fact last year the team signed their entire linebacker corps -- Phillip Wheeler, Koa Misi and Dannell Ellerbe  -- to new contracts.

That means one of those guys might be on the outs.

And if Jackson and the Dolphins go down the long road to getting a contract done -- not a certainty, by the way because Jackson has other suitors --  I would believe the player currently signed who should be worried is Wheeler.

Wheeler was among the Dolphins leading tacklers last year but he also led the team in missed tackles and, by the end of the season, was sharing playing time with rookie Jelani Jenkins.

Wheeler was also inconsistent in coverage and, interestingly, his coverage skills is a primary reason he got his five-year, $26 million deal that included a $13 million signing bonus.

It won't be easy for the Dolphins to simply let loose of Wheeler. His $5 million base salary this season is fully guaranteed.

Grimes and Dolphins sign a contract (updated)

Brent Grimes and the Dolphins are close to getting a contract done that will return him to the team, according to a league source.

[Update: Gimes has re-signed with the team. He will be returning.]

Grimes, who had been a candidate for the franchise tag, will not be tagged as the deal will be for multiple years.

The Dolphins have until March 11 to finish the deal before free agency begins and Grimes can sign with another team. Pending free agents can also begin negotiating with other teams March 8 but not sign a deal with those until the 11th.

Grimes, 31, was Miami's best defensive back in 2013 when he played under a one-year deal.

[Update: Grimes told Josina Anderson of ESPN the contract is a four-year deal. So the structure will be interesting as most CBs don't make it to the final year of their deal when they're 34.]

[Update: ESPN is also reporting the deal is for $32 million with $16 million guaranteed. So Grimes is getting an average of $8 million per year and the equivalent of two years guaranteed.]

He led the team with four interceptions and was easily the most effective defensive back in coverage. Grimes was selected to the Pro Bowl.

On another matter, agent Drew Rosenhaus is hoping he can get a contract offer for safety Louis Delmas, who visited Friday, but negotiations have not yet begun.

[Update: The Dolphins can still use the franchise tag by the end of today. That won't happen with either Paul Soliai or Randy Starks, if what the team has told both agents is true. Soliai agent David Canter tells me the club has told him multiple times he will not be franchised and a Starks associate has told The Herald's Barry Jackson that he does not expect Starks will be tagged.

Is that true?

Anything can happen by the end of business today but I would guess the Dolphins don't lie to the folks they're negotiating with.]