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5 posts from March 11, 2014

March 11, 2014

Jonathan Martin traded to San Francisco

The nightmare is over -- for all parties involved.

Following through on owner Stephen Ross' words that neither Jonathan Martin nor Richie Incognito would return to the Dolphins after the 2013 harassment scandal, the Dolphins confirm they have agreed to trade Martin to the San Francisco 49ers.

Martin thus rejoins former Stanford coach and current San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh in the Bay Area.

Terms of the trade were not immediately available. But it is likely for a low-round pick. ESPN was the first to report this story.

The Dolphins invested a second round pick on Martin in 2012.

In 2013, Martin imploded.

Plagued by depression and self-esteem issues, and tormented by poor treatment from Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey, Martin admits in the Wells Report he felt suicidal in May 2013.

In late October he left the Dolphins in the middle of the season.

Now he's left the Dolphins for good.

Martin's reaction?

"Big news," he tweeted moments ago. "Opportunities are few in the NFL. Can't wait to get to work."

He added the hashtag: 9ersempire.

The Dolphins will carry $959,734 in dead money against their cap for the Martin trade.

 

Soliai gets big $$ from Falcons

It's been known Paul Soliai was going to break the bank.

The bank where the Atlanta Falcons leave their deposits is today a little leaner because the former Dolphins defensive tackle has joined the NFC team.

Soliai is en route to Atlanta right now and will be signing a five-year contract worth $32 million with $14 million fully guaranteed.

Soliai will be making $11 million this year, according to a source familiar with the deal.

The Dolphins were never really in the game for Soliai. They never actually presented a contract to kick off negotiations.

They did make verbal offers that would have paid Soliai $5.5 million this year.

Not close.

Update: Paul Soliai released a statement thanking you, the fans, for his time in Miami. He thanks assistant coach Kacy Rodgers and he thanks "the previous" staff for bringing him into the NFL. He does not thank the Dolphins organization and I'm told that is by design:

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Albert agrees, couple of more UFA players to watch

Free agency is underway and the Dolphins have come to contract terms with offensive left tackle Branden Albert on a five year deal believed to be worth between $45-48 million.

No secret there.

Albert must take and pass a physical before the deal is official and signed. 

[Update at 4:01: Albert's deal is for $47 million with $25 million guaranteed.]

I smiled this afternoon when ESPN analyst Bill Polian said Dannell Ellerbe "played well" for "OK" money he got from the Dolphins last year. Polian also referred Ellerbe as "Daniel."

Strike one.

Two.

Three.

We know that Ellerbe will be with the Dolphins this year but the coaching staff and new general manager Dennis Hickey have been considering moving him to outside linebacker, which would mean the Dolphins would need a new middle linebacker.

(Remember the flirtation with D'Qwell Jackson?)

Anyway, the other way to address the linebacker position is to get an outside backer and force Phillip Wheeler and Koa Misi to compete for playing time.

Well, if Plan B is the way to go, the Dolphins have Tampa Bay OLB Dekoda Watson on their radar.

The team is also looking for right tackle help.

And Austin Howard will be available in the coming minutes. The New York Daily News reported the past few minutes the team was unable to sign Howard in time before free agency's start.

He'll be on the market.

The Dolphins are going to need to make moves at defensive tackle and we've already discussed Earl Mitchell and also Cam Thomas as a low-cost third DT option.

Another option is Kansas City five-technique defensive end Tyson Jackson. The Dolphins are considering him as someone capable of making the move to 4-3 DT.

[Update at 4:03: Mitchell has agreed to terms with the Dolphins and is flying to Miami today, according to Adam Beasley and ESPN and me. Beasley reports the agreement. ESPN says it's a four-year deal worth $16 million. I'm told Mitchell will get $9 million in guaranteed money.]

[Update at 4:10: Jackson is obviously no longer a priority. He will visit the Falcons tonight, per a source.]

Another DT possibility emerges for Dolphins

Yes, the Dolphins are trying to move on from Randy Starks and Paul Soliai. Don't be sad for the guys you know, as they will have offers. Indeed, Soliai might be visiting his new team starting tomorrow.

But as for Miami's replacement of those players, a new name to consider is Cam Thomas of the San Diego Chargers.

Thomas, 27, is 6-4 and 330 pounds which means he's a similar body to Soliai. That has him on the Dolphins radar.

Thomas is younger, has a high ceiling, and will be way cheaper than either Soliai or Starks would be.

But here's the thing:

Thomas today isn't as good.

Thomas was basically handed the starting nose tackle job with Chargers last year when Aubrayo Franklin and Antonio Garay left the team. Then he lost that starting job in early December and thereafter shared snaps with Sean Lissemore.

Thomas nonetheless is a good prospect.

Keep his name in mind along with Earl Mitchell, who was discussed in this space earlier today.

 

Free agency tidbits before the launch of free agency

The purpose of free agency is to upgrade. Let's see what you got, Dennis Hickey.

The new Dolphins general manager inherited a mediocre (8-8) team rife with unmet expectations. The team needs an offensive line, save maybe one or two spots. The team has cornerback questions, defensive tackle questions, running back questions and linebacker questions despite investing heavily in the position last year.

Okay.

Let's roll.

Look beyond the well-chronicled offensive line issues for a moment. Think defensive tackles to start. Randy Starks is actually looking at the Seahawks as a possible landing spot. Paul Soliai has gotten flirty eyes from Atlanta.

The Dolphins seem a distant possibility.

So where's the upgrade?

The Herald offered a handful of names as possible defensive tackle upgrades. And if you look at former NFL executive of the year Bill Polian's free agent tracker, one name is sticking out: Earl Mitchell.

Learn the name because you'll be hearing it the next 24-48 hours.

Mitchell has already been in contact with the Dolphins. Thing is he's also been contacted by the Bucs, Seahawks, Bears, Chargers and Cowboys. That's a lot of buzz for a four-year veteran with only 134 career tackles (33 per season average) and 3.5 sacks (less than one per season average) to his name.

Yet teams are loving him.

He is a high-motor, solid penetration, one-gap type guy.

The Dolphins will try to sign at least one defensive tackle in the coming days.

And that brings us back to ...

Yeah, offensive line.

Chad Rinehart re-signed with San Diego on Monday. Pfft.

The Broncos have encouraged Zane Beadles to shop around. Beadles loves Denver and loves playing with a winner. But I'm sure he also loves to get paid.

Geoff Schwartz is a possibility. Rams like him. He's going to be popular starting at 4 p.m. today.

St. Louis guard Shelley Smith of the Rams seems a good system fit for a zone blocking scheme, which is exactly what the Dolphins do.

KC's Jon Asamoah is also going to be very popular starting at 4 p.m. today. The Jets and Falcons are reportedly very interested.

About the Jets: They cleared nearly $18 million in cap space the two days by releasing Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie. They have gone from the third most cap space in the AFC East, behind Buffalo and Miami, to the second most cap space in the AFC East.

They have flexibility that they didn't enjoy the past couple of seasons, which is not exactly good news for their division rivals, including Miami.

So if the Dolphins are interested in right tackle Austin Howard, as The Herald has reported, I offer two caveats to actually getting him:

1. The Jets have been trying to re-sign Howard, so let's see if he even makes it to the market.

2. Let's see what happens if gets to free agency and then both the Dolphins and Jets try to sign him. Talk about driving up the price on a solid-but-not-outstanding player.

On the cornerback front, the Dolphins have told Nolan Carroll, starter of 12 games in 2013, to shop around. He's doing just that. And Minnesota and San Francisco have shown interest.

The Dolphins re-signed Brent Grimes and that's good. But that doesn't do it all. With Dimitri Patterson cut and Carroll shopping around, a couple of things need to happen:

1. Last year's rookies need to show up. Neither Jamar Taylor nor Will Davis proved anything during their rookie seasons. One or the other -- Taylor most likely because he was a second-round pick -- will feel some heat to perform in 2014.

2. The Dolphins would do well to hedge their bet by adding a veteran cornerback who can, at minimum, be a solid No. 3 replacing Carroll.

And let me just mention one more thing:

Darrelle Revis is available via trade. If he doesn't get traded, Tampa Bay, under new management, will cut him by Wednesday because they don't want to give the Jets a third-round draft pick from last year's trade nor pay Revis a $1.5 million bonus atop his $16 million base salary.

So?

Well that brings me back to Dennis Hickey. He was part of the old management in Tampa Bay that brought Revis to the Bucs in 2013. Just saying.