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2 posts from May 20, 2014

May 20, 2014

Expanded playoffs would have been good for Philbin

NFL owners today tabled the idea of playoff expansion for 2014 and will take up the matter again at their next meeting in October, according to multiple media reports out of Atlanta where the owners are meeting.

It's not the best news for Joe Philbin.


Well, anyone with any sense of where the Dolphins are as a franchise understands Philbin, entering his third season with the team, is coaching for his job in 2014.

Owner Stephen Ross has been loyal to his coach in siding with Philbin versus former general manager Jeff Ireland after their rift last season. The owner told candidates during his search for a new GM that they had to accept Philbin and even turned away from candidates he liked because they wanted the ability to move on from Philbin.

And Ross made sure new GM Dennis Hickey understood he must work hand-in-hand with Philbin, who now seems to be more empowered than ever, in order to be considered a success with the Dolphins.

But here's the catch: Ross, despite his unfettered public confidence in Philbin and optimism about the coming season, also has confided to multiple people that if 2014 does not unfold quite the way he hopes, it may be time for a reset.

And a reset would involve getting a new head coach.

It remains unclear exactly what parameters Ross would have for needing or resisting change.

If the Dolphins make the playoffs, it is as near a certainty as one can have that Philbin would continue as coach. On the other hand, If the Dolphins' record takes a step back from a year ago and the team fails to the make the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year, the likelihood of a Ross reset would be very high.

That much seems clear.

But what about the gray areas of what might happen in 2014?

Would a winning record alone that does not include a playoff appearance appease the owner? Would another 8-8 record but another year out of the playoffs be acceptable?

Bottom line is if the Dolphins make the playoffs, no matter what their record or results in the postseason, Philbin can be confident of coming back for 2015.

And that is why an expanded playoff field that includes 14 instead of 12 teams would have been in the coach's interest. With an expanded field, the Dolphins might have overcome the hurdles they haven't been able to overcome since 2008.

But with the traditional 12-team postseason (six teams per conference) now the league plan, the Dolphins will have to overcome not only division rivals New England, Buffalo and New York for a postseason berth, but also recent playoff contenders Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Baltimore, San Diego, Denver, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

The Dolphins finished third in the AFC East in 2013.



Signing rookie class not THAT difficult

Less than two weeks after the NFL draft and approximately 27 percent of the players selected have already signed with their new teams.

The Chicago Bears have signed all their draft picks. The Ravens have signed seven of their nine picks. The Patriots have signed seven of their nine picks.

Four first round picks have signed, including Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who was picked 20th overall or one slot behind Dolphins first-round pick Ja'Wuan James.

The Dolphins, according to NFLPA records, have not yet signed any of their draft picks.

They will. Eventually.

My guess is Dawn Aponte, Miami's chief contract guru, will get some signatures on deals by the end of this week before rookies begin a mandatory rookie minicamp on Friday. Aponte is known in agent circles as something of a tough negotiator (she really, really stuck to the offset language thing in her rookie deals years ago) and has been applauded in league circles for authoring the compromise to the offset language thing (done in the Ryan Tannehill deal) by making payments sooner.

Despite all this hero-villian characterization of Miami's lead contract negotiator, rookie deals are pretty straight forward. Everyone gets a four-year deal with the first round pick getting a fifth year team option.

Every pick after the third round will only earn compensation that is equal to the minimum salary for each year. That means base salaries of $420,000 for rookies, $510,000 for second-year players, $600,000 in Year Three, and $690,000 in the fourth year over the course of the contract.

Yes, later round picks will fight the idea of split salaries that guard teams paying a total bill for a player that lands on injured reserve. But this stuff isn't rocket science, folks.

Indeed, most draft pick deals can be estimated to within less than five percent of the actual deal.

Below you'll find the Dolphins' seven draft picks and what they are likely to sign for, according to overthecap.com's solid estimates. The actual contract will likely be (+-) two percent from the figures shown.

All that remains is for the Dolphins to actually get it done. Giddyup!

Round    Player                Overall pick    Contract estimate

1.          Ja'Wuan James     19                 4 years, $8.45M with $4.5M signing bonus.*

2.          Jarvis Landry        63                 4 years, $3.48M with $847K signing bonus.

3.          Billy Turner          67                 4 years, $3.1M with $700K signing bonus.

4.          Walt Aikens         125                4 years, $2.63M with $416K signing bonus.

5.          Arthur Lynch       155                4 years, $2.41M with $191K signing bonus.

5.          Jordan Tripp       171                4 years, $2.38M with $162K signing bonus.

6.          Matt Hazel          190                4 years, $2.35M with $105K signing bonus.

7.         Terrence Fede      234                4 years, $2.27M with $56K signing bonus.

* denotes fifth-year team option.