April 25, 2010

Undrafted free agents plus draft breakdown

The news first: I have six eight undrafted free agent names that sources say have agreed to join the Dolphins.

The players are:

Nevada DB Jonathon Amaya: 6-0, 203 pounds. Ran a 4.51 at the Combine. Benched 225 pounds only eight times.

Maryland DT Travis Ivey: 6-4, 325 pounds. No Combine results. Had 25 tackles including one sack in 2009.

Duke DL Vince Oghobaase: 6-5, 303 pounds. Ran a 5.48 at the Combine. Benched 225 pounds 27 times.

Penn State CB A.J. Wallace: 6-1, 201 pounds. No Combine results. Four career interceptions, three of those his senior year in 2009.

San Diego State WR Roberto Wallace: 6-4, 225 pounds. No Combine results. Caught 36 passes for 463 yards and three TDs in 2009 and that was his best of three seasons.

Michigan State DB Ross Weaver: 6-1, 203 pounds. No Combine results. Missed all of 2006 season. One career interception.

[Update: Florida International offensive lineman Andy Leavine has been signed as an undrafted free agent, according to my friends at www.draftday.dk. Leavine is listed at 6-5 and 292 pounds. He benched 225 pounds 31 times at his Pro Day.

Also, this morning I've learned Fresno State WR Marlon Moore is on Miami's undrafted FA list. Moore is 6-foot and 190 pounds. He had 15 catches for 317 yards and three TDs for the Bulldogs in 2009.]


Secondly, let me tell you what I thought of the Dolphins draft. Actually, it's late, I've slept five hours in two days and the wife is waiting for me so if you really want to know what I think click here.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone! 

April 21, 2010

Thomas: Dolphins have to show respect

If a Mount Rushmore of Dolphins players existed, Zach Thomas would be up there with Dan Marino and Larry Csonka and a couple of others. He was a Dolfans' favorite player from the second in 1996 he stepped on the field as a short, no-neck-having, self-deprecating rookie to the day in 2008 he packed his belongings and left.

And to this day Zach Thomas remains a South Florida resident, a fan of the Dolphins, and someone the organization admires enough that it considered him to join the new radio team being assembled to work on a new flagship station -- the team by the way, would not consider me as a commentator because I'm not enough of a homer.

Anyway, the point is when Zach Thomas is peeved with the organization, well then, something is wrong -- not with Zach, but with the organization.

And Zach Thomas is steaming about how the Dolphins have treated his brother-in-law Jason Taylor (married to Zach's sister Katina). He's upset about the handling of the latest Taylor saga in particular and and about the way the Dolphins handle inconic players in general.

Yesterday on the Sid Rosenberg show on 560-AM here in South Florida, Thomas pulled back the curtain on how Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells handled his departure when he was waived by the Dolphins.

"The only thing that was like a punch in the gut to me was the day I was cleaning out my locker, the day they cut me, [agent] Drew [Rosenhaus] asked them if I could just say thanks to the fans through the media at the Dolphins facility and their answer was, 'No, he's not a Dolphins player anymore, he's got to do it off premises.'" Thomas said. "That's when you know, like, 'Wow,' the whole loyalty and everything they preach with team and things like that goes out the window."

None of this is commentary on how the Dolphins make football decisions. There is no arguing it was time for Zach to go. He didn't fit the Dolphins scheme. He was getting up there in years. He was coming off a year in which he had concussion issues.

But this is commentary on what happens after the football decisions are made. A player like Zach Thomas basically gets kicked to the curb in much the same manner as Abraham Wright would.

After he was waived, Thomas had to find a way to say good-bye to Dolphins fans. He had to call media members one by one, me and many others included, to say his farewell to ... you.

That is wrong.

This regime doesn't like making exceptions. They like to treat all the players the same. The Dolphins, for example, are one of the few NFL teams that do not welcome new free agents with press conferences because the team doesn't want to make it seem like the new players are more important than the ones already on the roster. The Dolphins also don't get mushy when former greats such as Thomas or, yes, Jason Taylor leave are or forced to leave.

And that is fine if you're talking about Shawn Murphy being traded. But if Jason Taylor is being traded, that needs to be handled differently.

The strange thing here is that general manager Jeff Ireland is aware of how great players should be treated. He sometimes talks about how he doesn't want to do anything that would sully the organization's great name or history.

Ireland's stepfather was a Hall of Famer E.J. Holub. His grandfather Jim Parmer was a former Philadelphia player and Bears executive. Those men knew the importance of legacy and standing. Those guys respected those ideals.

But Ireland, under Bill Parcells, isn't really holding up his end very well in that department. The Dolphins fumbled on the Zach Thomas dismissal two years ago. They dropped the ball again in the manner they treated Jason Taylor this offseason.

Their football decisions were probably correct in both instances. Their people skills were lacking both times.

"You've got to know to respect great players," Thomas said. "You've got to know that. Jason is going to be a Hall of Famer. He's going to be in the [Dolphins Ring] of Honor. His name is always going to be in Dolphin Stadium, and that's big. And you know what, you can do it in a different approach. It might not be their approach. But I get disappointed when I see guys that have put everything on the line for the Dolphins organization and have a Hall-of-Fame career like Jason Taylor and it goes down like it has the last couple weeks...

"I'm not trying to be hard on Jeff Ireland. But he's saying it wrong, especially for a guy who has so much history with the Miami Dolphins. He's the all-time sacks leader among active players, and you're going to talk about him like he's a first- or second-year player. He should know how to respect guys that have been great to the game. ... It's fine if you don't have a need for him. But you tell him up front. And you don't go through the media and act like you're shocked that it's being brought up. I don't like the organization to look bad that way."

Here is a quick suggestion to the Miami Dolphins, an organization that thinks it knows it all: Sign Zach Thomas for a day. Hold the press conference now that you refused to grant him in 2008. Allow Zach to say good-bye the right way.

You can't do anything about how you handled Jason Taylor's departure. Right the wrong you did with the Zach Thomas departure. And do it soon.

Where JT, Dolphins agree and disagree

From 7 p.m. until approximately 10 p.m. Tuesday night, I spent time on the phone and in person listening to Jason Taylor, or people close to Jason Taylor, or family members of Jason Taylor, or associates of Jason Taylor. (I admittedly did not communicate Dr. Doolite-style with Jason Taylor's dog.)

When I arrived home I got a call from the Miami Dolphins and spent 45 minutes on the line listening to what they have to say about, you guessed it, Jason Taylor. By the way, 45 minutes on the line with folks representing an NFL team is an aging experience.

Following that I will now share with you what I know and what is curiously not settled as this chapter of Taylor's Dolphins career comes to a close.

What I know:

1. Taylor on Tuesday morning accepted from the New York Jets the only contract offer he had on the table to him. Period. There was a report on the Dan LeBatard radio show here in South Florida that quoted a source saying the Dolphins had an offer on the table for Taylor and he decided to take the Jets offer anyway.

Wrong.

"It was take this or go on a nationwide (Dancing with the Stars) tour with Jerry Rice," said Taylor, who also called LeBatard's source "a liar."

The Dolphins are in agreement with Taylor on this issue. They confirm they did not currently have a contract offer on the table to Jason Taylor.

We're off to a good start.

2. The Dolphins offered Taylor a contract extension in early November of 2009. That was reported here yesterday, Taylor said it in his press conference, and the Dolphins confirm this is true.

And the manner in which the offer came is also not up for debate. It came in a private meeting between Taylor and Bill Parcells himself.

And the offer came in the form of a Post-it note.

Parcells wanted to deal with Taylor directly. No agent was supposed to be involved. That seems to be increasingly the way the Dolphins operate with their veterans. Remember that last year Parcells approached Ricky Williams to discuss his contract?

Williams thought the team wanted to cut his salary. Instead, Parcells handed Williams a note with the figures for a contract extension. The caveat to the note was that Parcells didn't want to go through Williams' agent. And so Williams, needing money, happily left agent Leigh Steinberg out of the loop and accepted the Parcells contract extension on a Post-it note.

Well, the Dolphins tried the same thing with Taylor.

He declined the offer and instead referred the Dolphins to his agent Gary Wichard.

"It wasn't the right time," Taylor said. "I wasn't comfortable with the contract situation coming up then. Maybe I grew up old school, back in the days of Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt and Rick Spielman. We didn't talk contract once the season started. My focus was on trying to get to the playoffs, not on talking money. And why would I do a deal without my agent? Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland have an agent."

3. The Taylor camp believes that once the player declined the Big Tuna's personal offer, that triggered something that doesn't resemble love. The Dolphins do not argue the point that perhaps -- perhaps -- Parcells was not thrilled Taylor rejected his personal overture.

4. The Taylor camp to this minute does not know if the Dolphins would or would not have offered them a contract after the draft. And the Dolphins don't know 100 percent, either. That decision, they say, was going to be made after the draft. And they admit they might have decided not to offer Taylor a contract.

5. The idea about after the draft is troubling but moreso in that there is agreement on it than not. The Dolphins say that after Taylor received an initial offer from the Jets, they were told of the offer from the Taylor camp. No disagreement there. And the Dolphins say their response to finding out those numbers was to inform Taylor and his agent they wished to make their decision on Taylor "after the draft."

And, they say, that as late as Monday, the Taylor camp was "fine" with waiting until after the draft.

The Taylor camp agrees that they were initially "fine" with the idea of waiting until after the draft. No disagreement there, either.

Now here is where we get into disagreements:

1. The Dolphins, far as they know, still believe the Taylor camp was "fine" with waiting for Miami's decision after the draft. The Taylor camp obviously felt that a decision needed to be moved up because the one offer they held -- that of the Jets -- could easily disappear after the draft.

The Taylor camp says it reached out to the Dolphins when it became clear the Jets could pull their offer. The Taylor camp says it requested a decision one way or the other but got no response.

Why there wasn't one last-minute, last-gasp attempt to keep Jason Taylor in a Dolphins uniform, is unclear to Taylor. In fact, to this day Taylor doesn't know why he didn't get any Miami offer. "If I was told why, I could express it to you," he said. "But I wasn't told."

The Dolphins say there was nothing to express. They were waiting until after the draft.

2. About that November contract extension:

The Taylor side feels Parcells took Taylor declining to deal without an agent personally. The Dolphins side doesn't necessarily refute this as stated above. But ...

Parcells would not allow personal feelings to get in the way of completing imperative football business even if his feelings have a little boo-boo. (Salguero personal opinion: Taylor simply wasn't imperative to the Dolphins. If he was 25 instead of 35, he would have become imperative. But he isn't.)

3. Taylor said that once he turned the situation over to his agent he expected the negotiation to continue but that eventually the offer was pulled. The Dolphins say that once Taylor declined Parcells' offer, it was turned over to Jeff Ireland to handle and that negotiations indeed continued for some time between Ireland and Wichard.

(I'm getting a headache, aren't you?)

4. The Taylor camp is not really going here, but I am: They believe they were disrespected. Taylor, they say, is an all-timer with the Dolphins that, no matter what your football evaluation is, should be respected and treated well based on what he's meant to the franchise for 13 years.

They don't believe either Parcells or Ireland recognized the player's place in team lore and dealt with him poorly by playing the "after the draft" game. Taylor just wanted to know outright if the Dolphins wanted him or not. Black or white. The Dolphins told him to wait until after the draft in 2009, but they also told him they wanted him. They told him to wait until after the draft in 2010, but didn't hint as to whether he was in their plans or not.

Taylor was ultimately frustrated by the gray of "after the draft."

You saw part of that peek through when Taylor said, "I'm happy somebody wants me to play for them. The Jets have given me an opportunity to play and not just an opportunity but they showed me they wanted me up there ... They made it clear what they wanted to do."

The Dolphins? They insist they respected Taylor's historical standing.

But, they add, at the end of the day, they simply made a football decision.

[BLOG NOTE: I know there were issues with all of you being able to post comments on Tuesday. I was flooded with e-mail complaints that the blog was broken. I'm told the issue is being resolved. Personally, I blame it all on the New York Jets.]

April 19, 2010

Rumors: 'Can't take it no more'

Rumors.

They are everywhere. Everywhere!

Sometimes, they have zero credence, like the one that said Jason Taylor's contract with the Jets was "close to done." That was almost two weeks ago. I guess close can be a relative term -- like the moon is close to the Earth, if you compare our planet's distance to Pluto.

Sometimes the rumors are based in fact. Remember the rumor I reported to you about Brandon Marshall telling a Denver Broncos teammate he was headed to Miami? Remember the rumor about Ted Ginn being on the trade block?

Well, the days leading to the draft are perhaps the most rumor-filled days on the NFL calendar. And there are some interesting ones floating.

There's a rumor Ronnie Brown is on the trade block. The truth is, Brown cannot be traded right now. He cannot be traded until he signs his restricted free agent tender. The truth is the Dolphins are not actively calling all 31 other NFL teams and offering Brown. But the truth also is if a team approaches Miami about Brown, the Dolphins are more than happy to listen. I believe the Dolphins would gladly trade Brown for a second-round pick. I also believe they aren't likely to get that for him. We'll see.

There's a rumor the Dolphins are intrigued by the idea of trading for Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Apparently the NYGs have taken a sort of liking to South Florida's Jason Pierre-Paul and if that liking develops into them drafting him, that makes Umenyiora not only endangered, but practically extinct on the roster. Umenyiora played at Troy. Bill Parcells regularly looks at players from Troy and, indeed, picked DeMarcus Ware from Troy in 2005. Thus these trade rumors.

But this one is a head-scratcher, if you ask me. Umenyiora would project as an OLB in Miami's defense, but he's never played the position before. So the Dolphins would be interested in giving up a draft pick for Umenyiora after a 29-tackle, 7-sack season even when a team from New York has decided he's no longer a fit. But the Dolphins are apparently not as interested in giving up zero draft picks for Jason Taylor after a 42-tackle, 7-sack season even when a team from New York has decided he'd be a great fit. Yes, I know Umenyiora is 28 years old and Taylor is 35 years old. But I also know the draftee it costs to get Umenyiora would come cheaply and be maybe 21-22 years old.

On the positive side, if the Dolphins do indeed swing this deal for a fifth-round pick, they will have effectively traded Ted Ginn Jr. for Osi Umenyiora. That sounds like an upgrade to me. Ronnie Brown for Osi Umenyiora? Both Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are recovering from various surgeris. Of course, so is Brown. We'll see.

There's a rumor the Dolphins are trying to trade G Justin Smiley. It is true. It also hasn't gotten done so far. The bottom line here is Smiley has shoulder issues. He had them in San Francisco. He had them in Miami. They are not going away anytime soon. Furthermore, once the Dolphins put Smiley on the market and told him not to report for offseason conditioning, they basically alerted the rest of the NFL Smiley isn't in their long-term plans. The price for Smiley has dropped. Despite this, the Dolphins don't want to simply give him away. Their stance is they can hold onto Smiley up until training camp is set to open in late July. So what might Smiley bring in trade?

Not a lot. Purely speculating here: Maybe a sixth-rounder. Sad isn't it? We'll see.

There's a rumor the Dolphins will attempt to trade down in the coming draft. This is true. Although the chances are better that Miami will have to stick with pick No. 12 for lack of trade-down options, the team seriously would like to drop a handful of spots and pick up a late-second pick in the exchange. The Dolphins are not the only team wanting to do this. Denver might want to trade down also and the Broncos are scheduled to pick at No. 11. So, you guessed it, we'll see.


April 16, 2010

Ginn: 'Still have hopes of being an elite receiver'

Ted Ginn may not have been a great receiver for the Dolphins. But he was a great person.

The kid was classy in victory and defeat, in good times and bad. And that continues. He just spoke on a conference call and rather than taking any shots at the Dolphins or the fans that gave him a tough time, he stayed classy.

"I wouldn't say it's a sense of relief but it's always good to have a new start," Ginn said of his departure from Miami. "Going out to the 49'ers is going to give me a brand new start. Leaving Miami, you know, I hold no grudges. I don't have no bad feelings about them or anything. It's just my time was up there and now it was time to move on."

Ginn goes to San Francisco for a fifth round pick -- No. 145 in the coming draft. He goes to San Francisco ostensibly to resolve the 49'ers return problems on special teams. But Ginn is not selling himself short.

"I still have hopes of being an elite receiver," he said. "I don't think that I sell off at all. I just believe that special teams is one of the assets I have in my game. I'm just going to come in and do both."

The Dolphins obviously didn't think Ginn will become elite. That and the acquisition of Brandon Marshall made Ginn expendable. But Ginn doesn't accept the Marshall trade ushered him out of town.

"I didn't really know that," Ginn said. "I can't say, "Yeah, when we picked up Brandon Marshall I knew I was gone.' When we got the trade, I was happy. It was another guy coming to the Miami Dolphins. But in the same sense, you know the game, you know the business.  You're up for anything."

Ginn said he spoke to San Francisco coach Mike Singletary for the first time today.

"He didn't really tell me how he envisions using me," Ginn said. "He said it was a great situation for me and him. Just get down there and let's get with it."

Ginn was asked if he was surprised the Dolphins gave up on him after three years in the league.

"It's a game, it's a business," Ginn said. "They just wanted a new start. But like I said, it's no bad blood. It's the best decision for both of us and we moved on."

April 14, 2010

Interesting stuff on Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall

There are two players that tingle the toes (as Jim Mandich would say) of Dolphins fans as our team looks to checkmate all the moves the stinkin' New York Jets have been making and the evil New England Patriots are about to make with their 18 four picks in the draft's first two rounds. 

Dez Bryant.

Brandon Marshall.

I write about Bryant in today's Miami Herald and I share with you not only the sad circumstances of his upbringing but also what he's trying to do to overcome what he recognizes are maturity issues.

People close to Bryant tell me the wide receiver has hired a "life skills coach." Read the column to see what this person is charged with doing because it is interesting. Meanwhile, I asked if this so-called coach is traveling with Bryant as he takes his various visits to different teams around the league.

The question drew long pauses. "I don't want to confirm or deny that is happening," I was told.

Interesting. I make the case that Bryant having a "life skills coach" is a good thing. It shows he's being proactive in trying to address the issues some teams are worried about. But I've also heard some teams have been turned off when learning that this person is constantly around Bryant.

And yes, I've been told the "life skills coach" has been taking Bryant to some visits.

Regardless, I know the Dolphins have done extensive work on Bryant, trying to learn the truth about him and not just accept what is rumored. I think the truth about this kid paints a much more positive picture than the rumors.

As to Marshall, you know I hate rumor-mongering. I either tell you what other reputable sources are reporting or tell you what I have learned myself. When I don't know something I tell you.

I'm here to tell you that contrary to every instinct in my being and going against everything the Dolphins have said both privately and publicly, I keep hearing Marshall is indeed a possibility in Miami. (I cannot believe I just wrote that sentence.)

I got a call from an agent Tuesday night who wanted to know what I thought about Marshall coming to Miami.

"Isn't happening," I responded.

"What makes you so sure?" he asked.

"What do you know," I asked.

Well this agent represents a player on the Denver Broncos. And he tells me his client told him Marshall said the Dolphins are the other team -- along with Seattle -- interested in him. So the agent said Marshall was being traded to the Dolphins.

That is not exactly straight from the horse's mouth. That is not even from the horse's brother's girlfriend.

But this is a serious agent I've known for years and he doesn't call to waste his time or mine. I am therefore passing it along to you.

Is it 100 percent? I still have my doubts. I find it hard to believe the Dolphins would be willing to give up multiple high picks (perhaps a second and third rounder) for the right to Marshall, whom they would then have to turn around and pay between $8-10 million per year on average.

It is just not a Dolphins type move. This team is supposed to be trying to add draft picks, not lose picks. It would also go against what coach Tony Sparano said at the NFL annual meeting when he said the Dolphins were interested in neither Marshall nor Terrell Owens.

But I pass it along to you nonethless because it comes from a credible source. If nothing else, I've given my boy Joe Rose another entire show this morning -- just like I did Tuesday morning. You're welcome, Joe!

April 13, 2010

The Sparano-Taylor meeting off on wrong foot

Tony Sparano called Jason Taylor in recent days and with all the charm and charisma that convinces so many Dolphins to play hard 100 percent of the time, the coach told Taylor the two of them needed to meet this week.

Man to man. Coach to player.

Nobody needed to know about it, Sparano told Taylor.

And so Taylor didn't tell anyone about the meeting.

Taylor didn't tell his agent Gary Wichard. He didn't share it with any of his close confidants, either. So on Monday afternoon when ESPN senior insider Chris Mortensen reported on NFL Live that the meeting was coming this week, everyone connected with Taylor denied they knew about it because, well, they didn't.

But obviously someone inside the Dolphins organization told Mortensen. So the same organization that swore Taylor to secrecy leaked news of the meeting to the Worldwide Leader -- a figurative national bullhorn.

What is the deal with these Miami Dolphins? On the one hand, they're asking players to keep in-house matters in-house. On the other hand they're planting stories in the national media.

And what is the point? On the one hand, they seem to be reaching out to Taylor. But, in fact, by leaking the story, they have actually done damage to whatever they might be trying to accomplish. Taylor was disappointed with the team late Monday night when he learned news of the planned meeting leaked from the team after he was told to tell no one.

The Dolphins have been in lockdown mode on the Taylor issue for weeks. General Manager Jeff Ireland calls Wichard regularly every time facts about the Taylor-Dolphins negotiations -- or lack of negotiations -- get out in the media.

But Ireland is working for the very organization that slips ESPN interesting little notes -- like Ronnie Brown being on the trade block or Joey Porter not playing the rest of the season after his 2009 suspension. Granted, sometimes the information is flawed, but apparently the tuna can that is the Miami Dolphins isn't very well sealed.

The greater point is the Dolphins work in unorthodox ways. They have asked players to betray their agents -- as with the Ricky Williams contract extension that excluded agent Leigh Steinberg. And they betray their players -- as in leaking news of Taylor's private meeting with Sparano.

Weird.

The now well-chronicled meeting, by the way, is still scheduled for the next day or so. Taylor is scheduled to go out of town with his wife late in the week. (No, he isn't going to New York to sign a contract.) At least that wasn't the plan late Monday before Taylor found out the meeting was all over the Internet.

So where does this meeting go? What purpose does it serve?

It should probably start with Sparano apologizing to Taylor. The coach put his reputation on the line in asking Taylor to keep things private, but his team instead turned around and opened its information pipeline to ESPN. That cannot help the Dolphins' agenda unless the agenda is to simply make a public relations move -- one the Dolphins want publicized on national TV.

Maybe the meeting is meant to tell Taylor to go quietly into the night -- or in this case to simply take an offer from the New York Jets.

But if the point of the meeting is to be sincere and try to convince Taylor to be patient with the Dolphins, to wait until after the draft and hedge his bet Miami might want him back, this definitely is a strange way to go about that.

Strange and wrong.

April 12, 2010

Tony Sparano to meet with Jason Taylor?

The Jason Taylor saga is taking another turn this week as the Dolphins may be putting on a last-minute effort to keep the veteran outside linebacker.

NFL senior insider Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Taylor and Sparano are scheduled to meet in person this week.

"I've been told Coach Tony Sparano and Jason have a pretty good relationship and will meet sometime this week and then Jason will make a decision," Mortensen reported on NFL Live.

I have not been able to confirm this report yet but decided to share it with you for the sake of giving you the latest on the matter. Mortensen did not say who told him this meet was planned, but everyone knows Mortensen is tight with Bill Parcells.

I'll update as details become available.

[UPDATE 1: A source close to Taylor tells me news of this planned meeting is news to Taylor himself.]

[UPDATE 2: Mortensen texted me to remind me that he is close to "eight other members of the organization" and that I'm a dummy and he can squash like a bug at a whim.]

[UPDATE 3: Mort didn't really say I'm a dummy. But ... well, you guys read the blog. You listen to me on radio. The dummy part is assumed.]

Jets acquire Santonio Holmes: The fallout

This thing with the Jets adding players almost every week is starting to get a little irritating.

Rex Ryan's team is limited by the "Final Four Rule" that says they cannot add a free agent unless they lose a free agent and cannot pay that player more than the player they lost gets from his new team. And despite this limitation the Jets have added LaDanian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie and on Sunday night Santonio Holmes.

Cromartie and Holmes both came via trade, with Holmes being added for a modest fifth-round selection.

There is little doubt Holmes brings trouble with him. It is no secret league-wide that he will be suspended for four games in 2010 for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He also has some legal issues to clear up in connection with him allegedly throwing a glass at a women at an Orlando club.

But have you heard? He was also the Super Bowl MVP in 2008-09, and caught 79 passes for 1,248 yards with five TDs in 2009. When he's playing football, he's pretty darn good.

Obviously, the Dolphins must have been aware of Holmes being available and didn't pull the trigger. No, they don't have a fifth-round pick this year anyway, but they have three sixth-rounders and they have their fifth for next year. Obviously, it could be argued the Dolphins shy away from troubled players that are about to be suspended and this was no exception.

But the fact of the matter is Holmes will be suspended for four fewer games than the league suspension Miami's Jason Ferguson will serve for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy. And the Dolphins re-signed Ferguson this year, knowing he was going to serve the 8-game term.

So what gives with the double standard?

A fifth-round pick is nothing. Statistics prove players selected in that round rarely factor much in the NFL and rarely play more than three years. (Spare me the Zach Thomas reminders. That was almost a generation ago.)

Miami's fifth rounders the past decade were John Nalbone and Chris Clemons in 2009, none in 2008, none in 2007, Manny Wright (supplemental) in 2006, Anthony Alabi in 2005, Tony Bua in 2004, J.R. Tolver in 2003, Omar Lowe and Sam Simmons in 2002, Shawn Draper in 2001 and Arturo Freeman in 2000. In other words, Nalbone and Clemons have to be golden for Miami to show anything for a decade of fifth round picks.

So if the Jets lose on this gamble for Holmes, what have they really lost? A fifth-round selection that probably wasn't long for the league anyway? It's a good gamble for them. And for others, I suspect.

There are interesting side notes to this trade that affect Miami:

The Steelers are now in the market for a wide receiver and their need probably extends early in the draft. They have the 18th overall selection in round one, and that could mean one fewer WR will be available to Miami when the Dolphins pick in round two. The Steelers also have the 20th pick in round two (52nd overall), meaning one less WR might be available to Miami in the third round.

In other words, Pittsburgh now-obvious need for a wide receiver could decrease the Dolphins' choices by one player after Miami's first pick.

Another interesting side note to this is whether the news of the Jets acquiring a weapon that could help their playoff cause would sway Jason Taylor with his pending decision about going to the New Yorkers or not.

Finally, the hope here is that Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland wake from their wide receiver slumber and realize it is a passing league. They need to find a star wide receiver, maybe even two, in this draft. Dez Bryant, Golden Tate and Demaryious Thomas are good places to start.

I hope they've done their homework and are ready to go hard after a receiver.

Everyone else is.

[Update: Holmes is flying to New York for a physical today. Am I the only one that is rooting he fails the physical because they find drugs in his system?]

Is Ronnie Brown likely to get traded?

Adam Schefter, who covers the NFL nationally better than anyone, reminded everyone on this twitter posting Sunday that Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown has been available in trade for over a year and so the implication is don't be surprised if he is traded.

Frankly, I would be surprised if he's traded, but not for the reasons you think.

The truth is the trade availability with Brown has been an on-again, off-again thing dating back to 2008.

The Dolphins were willing to let Brown go for the right price prior to the 2008 regular-season when the player was recovering from reconstructive knee surgery. There simply wasn't much of a market for him. Even at the start of that season, Brown wasn't really Miami's best back which is one reason Ricky Williams started.

But then Brown improved and impressed. As he got healthy he became the biggest offensive playmaker on the team and so Miami suddenly wasn't very eager to get rid of him. He was, at that point, off the market.

The Dolphins took calls about Brown last offseason. But at that point, with Brown coming off a Pro Bowl season, the team wasn't going to give him away and no one wanted to pay a high price for Brown.

So RB continued to be a Dolphins RB.

But in 2009 Brown got hurt again -- this time suffering a Lisfranc injury in his right foot. The fact Brown continues to border on being injury-prone troubles the Dolphins. His DUI incident in March also is a concern despite the fact he's never had any other off-field issues.

The bottom line is Ronnie Brown is today available to any team willing to part with a high draft pick. The Dolphins would love for someone to offer a first-round pick for him. The fact the Dolphins have not to this moment given Brown a long-term deal should also give you a clue the team is treading very carefully on the Brown matter as a long-term answer.

But what is Brown's worth in trade? He's had a season-ending knee injury and a season-ending foot injury the past three years? What team is going to give up significant assets for a running back with that kind of history?

The Dolphins, meanwhile, aren't simply going to give Ronnie Brown away. Yes, he's probably available but Bill Parcells doesn't run a thrift shop. If someone wants a bargain, Miami isn't the place to get one.

The bottom line is Brown seems more valuable to the Dolphins than he is on the trade market. No one is likely to give up a first or even a second-round pick for Ronnie Brown. The Dolphins are not likely to think a third or fourth-round pick for Brown is good return.

So does he get traded? It's possible. But it's not probable.

Remember, it takes two teams to make a trade.

Oh, by the way, Brown has still not signed his restricted free agent tender. He cannot be traded until he does so. 

[BLOG NOTE: Speaking of trades, the Jets actually made one Sunday night for wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Come back here at 10:30 a.m. for a post on how that trade impacts the Dolphins. It will also give you a chance to weigh in on what you think of that trade relative to Miami's decision to stay clear.]

April 11, 2010

Sunday morning happenings in Dolphins country

A couple of interesting things this Sunday morning:

First off, Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post is saying that based on his conversations with other teams, it seems to him the Dolphins are looking to trade down from No. 12 in the first round. Perhaps the trade down I proposed last week isn't so crazy after all.

Bottom line here? Teams call other teams before the draft and talk about trading up and down all the time. Doesn't mean they're going to do it. Doesn't mean it is what they want to do. They are testing the waters so when they dive in on draft day, it isn't a shock to the system.

Having said that, every player the Dolphins seemingly have locked into -- Dez Bryant, Earl Thomas, Dan Williams -- seem to be rated slightly lower than at No. 12 by all the so-called experts. Maybe the Dolphins can gain a pick by moving down and still land their guy.

Next, Jason Taylor continues to be an issue because, well, because I choose to make it so.

In my column in today's Herald, I make the point that Taylor should just go ahead and call the Dolphins' bluff and go to the Jets.

If you are now aghast at the thought, get over it.

Man's got a right to work and the Jets are offering a job.

If you would consider J.T. some sort of turncoat if he goes to the Jets, let me pose a hypothetical question to you.

As much as you hate the New York Jets, what would you do if you were unemployed and Rex Ryan called you tomorrow and said, "The New York Jets will pay you $1.5 million to come work for them this year and $1.95 million for next year." You know that you'd hold your nose and take the job. If you say you would not, you're probably lying.

The amount of the deal isn't actually that important. A job is a job and you take it.

It's a business decision and you'd make it.

Jason Taylor is also entitled to make a business decision -- even one he doesn't necessarily want to make.

And if the Dolphins don't like the idea of that decision, they should step in and stop it. They have not done that so far.

April 07, 2010

With Taylor, Dolphins style is lacking

The Miami Dolphins like Jason Taylor. They say he's a good player and sincerely believe they have a good relationship with him. Coach Tony Sparano believes he and Taylor are as tight as an employer-employee relationship allows, while general manager Jeff Ireland believes he and Taylor's agent Gary Wichard have an open and honest association.

So the Dolphins are not seriously sweating Taylor's visit to the New York Jets.

The Dolphins know what Taylor would like to be paid in 2010 and they say Wichard knows the value they have placed on Taylor. No, the Dolphins haven't made an official contract offer to Wichard for reasons they believe to be sound business, but they insist "everyone knows where everyone stands." There is, by the way, a difference of opinion between the parties about Taylor's value.

But, the Dolphins believe if Taylor gets an offer from the Jets Thursday, or anyone else in the coming days, they will have the opportunity to adjust their opinion.

The Dolphins believe they will have a chance to match any offer any team makes Taylor.

Perhaps that is true. Perhaps it isn't. But that's what the Dolphins believe. So from a purely cold, unemotional, business aspect, nothing the Dolphins are doing really can be deemed wrong or a mistake.

But ...

Dealing with Jason Taylor is not and cannot be just about cold hard facts. It cannot be just about legal tender green dollars.

Taylor wants to be loved, maybe even wooed. He definitely wants to be shown respect because after 13 NFL seasons he rightly believes he's earned that. And the New York Jets are showing him that love and respect at a time when Taylor doesn't think the Dolphins are.

On Wednesday, the Jets flew Taylor to New York for a free agent visit. He and his wife Katina were picked up by limousine and taken to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a five-star facility overlooking Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan. The Jets later put Taylor in a helicopter and flew him to their new stadium in New Jersey. The place is in a wasteland called the meadowlands but the Jets sold it to Taylor as his new home he can help decorate with a Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The Jets wined Taylor. They dined Taylor. And Rex Ryan repeated to Taylor what he told Wichard the past couple of days as he was setting up this visit: If Taylor signs with the Jets, he will have between 12-15 sacks in 2010 because Ryan would use him as a pass-rusher coming from every imaginable and unpredicatable location on the field except perhaps the pressbox.

Jason Taylor was never recruited by bigtime college programs before he went to Akron but by Wednesday night he definitely knew what it's like to be wanted.

And that is the biggest difference between the Dolphins and Jets right now. The Jets have the Dolphins over a barrel on style if not necessarily on substance.

The Jets may not be able to pay Taylor very much at this time because they are limited by NFL Final Four rules imposed on clubs that made it to the conference title games. Taylor would like to make approximately $3 million per season and he would like a two-year deal because he wants to play two more seasons. Under the rules, the Jets seemingly can't get much higher than $1.5 million in the first year of the deal and cannot raise Taylor's 2011 salary more than 30 percent to $1.95 million.

But the Jets are nonetheless chasing Taylor like he is invaluable.

The Dolphins? They're the team that made it clear to Taylor last year he had to earn his roster spot after he signed. They're the club that isn't showing its cards or any emotion in dealing with Taylor. The Dolphins are the club that have returned some but not all of the calls from Taylor or his agent this offseason.

That matters to Taylor. And so does this:

Taylor has noticed that Miami signed Jason Ferguson this offseason after he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs but they keep him at arm's length. The Dolphins have signed Chad Pennington when his shoulder might or might not be 100 percent going forward but they're biding their time on re-signing the same Jason Taylor who played an entire month with a bum shoulder last season.

Understand that the Dolphins don't see any problem here. They see nothing wrong with approaching folks in a direct and candid way or putting other folks on the back burner when necessary. But one man's candid is another man's tactless. One man's back burner is another's contempt. That's perhaps a reason safety Ryan Clark returned to the Steelers rather than signing with the Dolphins.

Clark didn't get more money from Pittsburgh than he might have from Miami. But he felt he got a whole lot more love.

The Dolphins are not big on that love thing. They don't show everyone a lot of love and particularly not to Taylor for some strange reason.

While Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick were calling Taylor's agent multiple times last year, the Dolphins acted like they were doing Taylor a favor in signing him at a bargain $1.5 million price. And Ryan's continuing chase of Taylor this year is in sharp contrast to Wichard approaching Ireland at the Indianapolis Combine in February and having to sell Taylor as a sound investment, like a pitchman stumping for his product.

Again, nothing wrong with Miami's substance. But the style raises eyebrows.

It is clear that all things being relatively equal, Taylor would love to continue playing for the Dolphins. The Dolphins know this and are absolutely using it to their advantage. And that's fine. The NFL is, after all, a business and Ireland is trying to conduct good business by getting the best deal for his team.

But good business is also about having good timing. And while the Jets are acting in their own timing, the Dolphins are banking on reacting to a New York offer.

Good business is also about keeping a good relationship. And there is no room in a good relationship for being lukewarm when someone else is being red hot.

Good business, in short, is also about style -- especially when it threatens to affect substance.

Miami Dolphins reach out to Jason Taylor

A few weeks ago I shared with you how the Dolphins were pretty much ignoring Jason Taylor while carrying on with business on other matters.

The column, which basically said the Dolphins weren't returning calls from the Taylor camp, prompted some fans to begin an e-mail writing campaign requesting the team bring Taylor back. The column also got something of a rise out of the Dolphins.

Although Taylor has not discussed the matter with me, I'm told by a good team source that the day the column published, coach Tony Sparano contacted Taylor. And the contact effort was two-pronged as the Dolphins have since reached out to Taylor's agent, as well.

Now, this does not mean Taylor will absolutely, positively, 100 percent be back with Miami in 2010. The Dolphins didn't call to offer Taylor a contract. But things are looking better than they did when I originally wrote the column and that is good news for Taylor fans.

Taylor obviously wants to return. If the choice were his, he'd be on the Dolphins now, today. But the Dolphins are not at that stage yet. They are still in draft mode and want to take care of that important business before resolving the Taylor issue.

But the club doesn't want to write Taylor off altogether. He still has value. Miami obviously wants to keep a good relationship with him until a final decision whether to bring him back or not is made.

That likely will not happen until after the draft.

So there is no rift at the moment. At least folks are talking.

Good news.

[BLOG NOTE: Come back early afternoon today because I'll update with any newsy item from a national conference call with Mel Kiper. I know you folks cannot wait to hear what Mr. Kiper has to say.]

March 29, 2010

Crowder on the wrong post-season team

Over the weekend I shared with you the list of players that must step up from what their career byline has been so far in order to turn the Dolphins from also-rans to playoff contenders in 2010. In that regard, I served up positive spin because many of the guys I mentioned could indeed turn into excellent players.

But there is, of course, the famine side to the feast I served.

Players obviously can go in the other direction as well, playing well one year and then laying an egg the next. Joey Porter took that route in 2009. Chad Pennington was on that path the season's first three games until he got injured. Akin Ayodele also went in that direction in 2009 after a solid 2008.

Well, the folks at Pro Football Focus have put together an NFL-wide All-Declined team. That team is comprised of the players whose careers are on the downward trek. But the list also includes players who simply suffered from down years.

One Miami Dolphins player made the team.

ILB Channing Crowder.

Crowder was pretty good in 2008 -- at least good enough to earn a three-year contract from Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano. Crowder led the team in tackles in nine 2008 games. The Dolphins bought in on Crowder.

But after delivering a career-high 114 tackles, six passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 2008, Crowder's 2009 production tanked.

He had a career-worst 51 tackles, one sack, three passes defensed, and one interception in 2009. Crowder led the team in tackles in only one game.

"[He was] unable to make the big plays and really out of place in coverage," the Pro Football Focus guys write. "Definition of a down year."

March 26, 2010

Dolphins interest in Mike Williams is interesting

OK, they're not interested in Brandon Marshall. I get that. They're not interested in Terrell Owens, even as a short-term solution to a big problem. I sort of get that, also.

The Dolphins might not be interested in Dez Bryant if it takes the No. 12 overall selection in the draft to get him. Something about risk versus reward. I get that, too.

Yet there is an interest in Mike Williams.

Hmmmm. I'm trying to get that.

The team brought Williams for a visit at the Davie, FL. training facility on Thursday and spent several hours with him.

Williams is a 6-2, 220-pound prototype from Syracuse University. Well, he was from Syracuse University until he reportedly left the team in November. Those reports, by the way, were the result of Syracuse coach Doug Marrone saying Williams quit the team. So the sourcing cannot be questioned. Williams quit the team according to his coach.

It was a strange situation because Marrone said Williams went to him without being summoned and simply quit.

Asked at the time why Williams quit the team, Marrone said, "You'd have to ask him. I have no idea. I'm not going to discuss the conversation from my end. Obviously, I told you that he came up to me and voluntarily took himself off the team. That's it."

Well, that's not really it.

Reports later surfaced that Williams was on the verge of being suspended by Marrone when he decided to quit. It wasn't the first time Williams had issues at Syracuse. He was suspended from school in 2008 for cheating on a test.

When he quit with four games left in the season, Williams had 49 catches for 746 yards and six touchdowns. He ranked first in the Big East and 14th nationally with seven receptions per game. He was first in his conference and 20th nationally in receiving yards.

The saga of Williams leaving the team in 2009 is a big issue for teams. When a player leaves a team it raises questions as to how much he loves the game, it raises questions whether he's a quitter, it raises questions whether he's likely to repeat the offense in the pros if things get tough, because as Nick Saban used to say, past actions is the best predictor of future actions.

"I've been talking to all the NFL teams about that," Williams said during the Indianapolis Combine in February. " I want to leave it at that. But what I want everybody to know is I didn't quit. I'll leave that story at that."

So Williams didn't want to say what actually happened, or what he believes happened, but he did want to remove the doubt about him quitting.

"I told the teams that, all the teams know the whole story," Williams said. "I want to leave it at that, I don't want to make it a big media story. I just want everybody to know I didn't quit."

Williams apparently is admitting to teams that he cheated on the test. He told them he simply doesn't like school. And he's telling teams that he can be reliable.

"I want to let them know that I'm a nice person, I'm a good person," Williams said. "School was just my problem. I had bad judgment when I was young. School has been my problem, I want to let them know I can play football and be there for that team."

Obviously the Dolphins have bought in -- at least to the point of bringing Williams to town.

March 19, 2010

Henne clarifies Tebow comment, talks WRs

It is a beautiful day in South Florida, a perfect golf day, and that's good because about a dozen Dolphins players are participating in the Athletes in Action charity tournament now.

Chad Henne is participating because he's a good community guy. He talked to reporters today -- The Herald's Jeff Darlington and David J. Neal were there because they love golf -- and they asked Henne about his controversial Tim Tebow comment Wednesday, in which the Dolphins quarterback said, "In my judgment he's not an NFL quarterback. So leave it at that."

Today Henne didn't want to leave it at that. Today Henne was surrounded by reporters that asked better questions. Today Henne backtracked a little bit.

"I didn't really say he wasn't wasn't able to be one," Henne said of Tebow. "We're all in this process, learning how to be an NFL quarterback. Obviously, he's taken the right steps to improve his game. His throwing motion actually looks a lot better with his release and everything. I think his Pro Day went really well and he was happy with it. I can't really say anything. My quarterback coach from college is coaching him in college. We're coming from the same people.

"He's obviously learned a from a lot of good people. And with Urban Meyere up there, he's learned from the best. Those [comments] were way out of proportion, he's not going to be an NFL quarterback. Wherever he goes, he's going to make that team better because he's such a competitor and a great person."

Henne was uncomfortable that the comments got national attention. He was more uncomfortable that his comment was perceived as coming from the Dolphins -- as an inside the Dolphins organization opinion.

"The thing about that is that dragging the Dolphins and our coaching staff into this when it's way out of proportion," Henne said. "I never talked to them about Tebow. They never mentioned anything. It was all what I was perceived to say. I have nothing against him. I really like him as a person. I met him last year up there at Florida working out their receivers and got an opportunity to play against him so he really is a wonderful person and I only wish him the best."

Henne claimed WQAM, where he made the original Tebow remark, cut him off before he could explain his comment. He said he would have liked the opportunity to add that Tebow is working on what he needs to and he liked what he saw.

On the football front, Henne has been consistent in saying he sees improvement from Miami's current WR corps. He believes in those guys. But ...

Henne admits he wouldn't mind the group being improved with a proven player.

"There's definitely guys out there, like you said," Henne said. "There's T.O. [Terrell Owens]. There's Brandon Marshall. There's guys in the draft. Where we're at, we have a bunch of young guys who are definitely learning and going to be explosive in the next coming year.

"But you need kind of a veteran guy that's really going to take hold of our young guys and teach them the right ways."

March 12, 2010

Twelve Dolphins players get at least $100K in performance pay bonus for 2009

Donald Thomas, a sixth-round selection in 2008 who started 12 games at right guard last season, led all Dolphins players in the NFL's 2009 performance-based pay program.

Thomas  made $316,577 in addition to his base salary of $338,397, according to a league document obtained by The Miami Herald.

Cornerback Sean Smith, who started all 16 games, pocketed an extra $212,282 to place second on the team in performance pay while tight ends Joey Haynos and Anthony Fasano followed in third and fourth place, respectively, among the highest collecting players in the performance-based system.

Haynos collected $207,264 in addition to his regular salary of $390,980 while Fasano got $189,412 atop his salary of $535,850. Wide receiver Davone Bess, an undrafted free agent in 2008, rounded out Miami's top five earners in performance pay, adding $185,902 to his base salary of $394.480.

The league's performance-based pay system sets up a fund on each team to reward players based on how their playing time compares with their contractual financial compensation. The system won't exist in the 2010 season because the NFL collective bargaining agreement has moved into an uncapped year.

But in the final capped season of the current CBA, 12 Miami players added at least $100,000 to their base salaries.

Performance-based pay is meant to reward lower-paid players who outperform their contracts. The system does, however, also reward higher paid players based on play time.

And the system does not judge the quality of the play, but rather the quantity.

Maybe that's the reason safety Gibril Wilson, a high-priced free agent aquisition and a bust, collected an extra $31,764 in performance-based pay. Wilson was cut last week after one season with the team.

Tackle Andre Gardner, a sixth round pick in 2009, brought up the rear of the performance-based pay sheet, having collected $681.

In total, 61 Dolphins players collected $3,422,875 in performance-based pay.

March 11, 2010

Contradictory stories surrounding Clark's visit

Over the weekend the Dolphins suffered a free agency setback when Pittsburgh free safety Ryan Clark was invited to town for a visit. Clark was offered a contract by the Dolphins and a chance to start in 2010 but he decided not to take the offer and headed back to Pittsburgh where he signed a four-year contract Tuesday with the Steelers.

Immediately, Dolphins fans cried foul, saying Clark had used their team to get a better offer from the Steelers.

Immediately, Clark's agent Joel Turner came to his client's defense claiming nothing of the sort had happened and telling The Miami Herald that, "honest to God, it wasn't about money."

Well, stuff happens, right?

Easy come, easy go, right? 

Case closed, right?

Wrong.

Seems Clark is talking about his visit to South Flordooda and his version of events throws his agent under the bus, because it apparently was about money. And his version of events also throws the Dolphins under the bus because it depicts them as team that didn't make him feel wanted.

In an interview with Denver TV station Fox 31, Clark said he came on the trip "with an open mind," but his mind closed somewhat when the Dolphins started talking numbers.

"What it came down to was the inability for us to agree on a deal. [The Dolphins] offered what they thought was fair, but in the end I didn’t agree," Clark said.

"They were definitely straight forward with me. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Bill Parcells team. I thought that I was going to be paid like a starter, but unfortunately for me, the negotiations didn’t reflect that."

So it was about money. The Dolphins' offer was not starter money in Clark's mind.

"There just comes a time in negotiations where you have to give a player reasons as to why you won’t stretch yourself financially," Clark said. "In the way that they responded to me, I could tell that they were being honest so that’s why I can’t be insulted, but I just didn’t agree."

And now the part where Clark throws the Dolphins beneath the Greyhound. He says that in his talks with the team that was supposedly recruiting him, he got the distinct feeling the Dolphins didn't really love him all that much.

"They certainly showed [Karlos] Dansby how they felt about him with what they offered him," Clark said, "but I just felt like I would have to prove myself to [Dolphins head coach] Tony Sparano all over again; and in Pittsburgh I wouldn’t have to do that.

"They told my agent, 'Look, we just don’t know this guy. After we evaluate him more out there with us, maybe we’ll feel different about it.' But I just figured, if this is how they  feel, these things aren’t going to change about me overnight."

One question: If the Dolphins were willing to tell Clark's agent that they didn't really know Clark that well, why were they willing to bring him to town and offer him a deal to begin with?

Obviously the team found itself in a situation that it had a player it liked ... but didn't love. And they actually told him as much which I supposed is honest but also kind of tactless.

Ultimately, Clark signed a four-year deal worth $14 million with the Steelers. That is a bargain rate for a good free safety.

Consider Clark will make an average of $3.5 million a year. Consider that Miami paid free agent bust Gibril Wilson more than half of what Clark will make in four years -- $8 million -- for one year's poor service.

Obviously, having heard the contradictory versions from the agent and player, I'd love to know the Dolphins' version of the story. I will call the team in the morning and request an interview with Jeff Ireland or Bill Parcells on the topic.

And then I'll sit by the phone today and wait for it to ring.

[Update 11 a.m.: The Dolphins say they saw today's blog and are passing on the opportunity to set the record straight. "There will be an opportunity to ask those questions, and others, at Coach Sparano's appearance at the AFC Coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meetings in Orlando later this month and at Jeff Ireland's pre-draft press availability which will be scheduled shortly after that," the team said.]

 

March 09, 2010

Five days into free agency is no time to panic

Unrestricted free agency started as a sprint over the weekend when many NFL teams jockeyed for position to immediately land their prize targets or re-sign their best players.

The Dolphins got Karlos Dansby who is an upgrade at inside linebacker. The Dolphins locked up backup quarterback Chad Pennington. And they added by subtracting Joey Porter and Gibril Wilson.

But not all has gone according to plan.

The Dolphins have struggled to land a starting-caliber free safety because fate has not been kind. They put a certain value on Antrel Rolle and the New York Giants placed a higher value on him and got him. Value is defined here by cold, hard cash.)

They placed a higher value on Ryan Clark than his most recent team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Clark, a classy, solid dude, had other priorities he had to answer to. So Clark left Dolphins money on the table in order to return to the Steelers.

Some front offices might begin to panic. I trust the Dolphins will not, not with Bill Parcells at the helm.

On the surface, the situation looks uncomfortable if not dire.

A survey of the landscape shows the Dolphins have needs at too many positions to solve all those needs through the draft. 

They need a starting OLB, a NT, a starting FS, and, of course, a playmaker at WR. Always a playmaker at WR.

So what to do?

While Cincinnati is hosting both Antonio Bryant and Terrell Owens this week, while Seattle is studying Brandon Marshall, after Baltimore traded for Anquan Boldin and Kansas City signed Chris Chambers, the Dolphins have done nothing.

I love Boldin -- a lot. But I cannot criticize the Dolphins for not moving on anyone left. It would be a sign of desperation for them to go after domestic batterer Marshall. Even if the move might be popular with fans and sell tickets, it would be a huge risk.

Owens will be 36 years old. He's better than any wide receiver the Dolphins currently have, no question. But did I mention he'll be 36 years old? And he has a history that rubs Parcells the wrong way. So is the Big Tuna going to basically cast off everything he believes in and chase this player? That would be a sign of desperation.

Bryant? He has had issues with his knees. His career byline is one of inconsistency and wearing out his coaches and his welcome. He also apparently would like a nice payday.

So maybe, just maybe, the Dolphins would best be served by sitting this one out if they have a plan. (God, please let them have a plan!)

The safety position is equally troubling because the Dolphins don't have a starter at the position. By their chase of both Rolle and Clark, the Dolphins have told everyone they don't think Chris Clemons is ready to be a starter and might never be. Remember, they offered those guys multi-year deals so the team was comfortable with Clemons not starting at FS for some time.

The problem is that the free agent options are running out. Darren Sharper is very, very, very productive but also older than Miami typically likes. He's also coming off knee surgery and reportedly isn't taking trips. O.J. Atogwe continues to be out there, but as of this writing, no contact from the Dolphins.

The Dolpins obviously didn't want to draft for this position. They might need to unless they can uncover a double-secret starting FS no one is aware of.

And then there are the other issues the Dolphins haven't even attempted to address in free agency: The team needs at least one starting outside linebacker, but DeMarcus Ware isn't available. They need a nose tackle but Vince Wilfork re-signed with New England. The Dolphins are a team in much need. 

So why am I not crying "The Sky is falling" from my house top?

Two years ago, as the Steelers and Cards were preparing for a Super Bowl year, neither team signed a free agent early on. Last year at this team, neither the Colts nor the Saints signed a free agent early on.

Free agency is less than a week old. It is not Labor Day yet. The draft will plug some of these holes. And since this front office doesn't typically show desperation, neither will I. At least not yet. It is way too early for that.

March 04, 2010

Brandon Marshall: Great talent, lots of baggage

So the Denver Broncos put a first-round tender (only a first-round tender, it is being portrayed in league circles) on Brandon Marshall and immediately Dolphins fans think Miami should rush to trade for the enigmatic wide receiver.

I don't believe this is today an idea being seriously considered within the Dolphins halls connecting the offices of Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano. Frankly, it would be out-of-character for those men to be currently planning a move for Marshall because they are excellent football men.

And excellent football men don't trade the No. 12 overall selection in the first round -- a premium draft pick by any measure -- then pay a king's ransom in a new contract, all for the right to inherit someone else's headache.

For the record, Marshall is a supremely talented individual. He is 6-4 and 230 pounds and has caught over 100 passes for over 1,000 yards in each of the last three seasons.

But guess what? Marshall is not the answer to every Miami problem that is, has been, and will be. Fact is Marshall has helped the Broncos reach the playoffs zero times in the three years he was posting those fat numbers.

And that's not even the first problem with chasing Marshall.

Marshall has shown a troubling side for over a year now. He was witness in the murder trial of former Broncos player Darrent Williams because he was at the club the night the shooting happened and played a small role in the altercation that may have led to the crime.

Show of hands, how many of you remember what Bill Parcells said he tells his players all the time?

"Stay out of the clubs."

Anyway, in his trial testimony Marshall said that not one day passes when he doesn't think of Williams. "Every day," Marshall said. It was an emotional and stirring moment when he said that as his eyes were watering. But that death happened over three years ago. Perhaps it sounds callous, but NFL teams worry about the emotional state of players they are about to acquire.

Any team considering Marshall must gauge this testimony. And they must gauge his history of domestic violence which is best outlined by the video below.

Then there are the other troubling issues. Why do you think the Broncos want to get rid of Marshall? Is it because he's a really good player? Is it because he caught an NFL record 21 passes in one game last year and is a mismatch against practically any defensive back he faces?

KC Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers once said Marshall, "is a defensive lineman playing wide receiver. He wants to inflict phyisal punishment on you. He wants you to try to tackle him so he can shove you off of him and get more yards."

You think that's the reason the Broncos want him gone?

Or do you think it's because they have weighed Marshall's positives against his negatives and have found the negatives weigh more?

Buyer beware, folks.

Marshall had several run-ins with new coach Josh McDaniels last year. That doesn't worry me so much because so did new Miami defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. But Marshall's behavior was unprofessional following those run-ins. He supposedly dropped passes in practices on purpose because he was upset.

That got him benched for the final two games of the preseason. Funny thing is he'd been benched the first two preseason games for conduct detrimental to the team.

Then he was benched for the final regular season game because he reportedly blew off a physical therapy session.

Does any of this sound like a Bill Parcells player? Does this sound like a player Parcells will give the No. 12 pick in the draft for?

On top of all this, Marshall will require a contract that keeps him happy. It is not beyond imagination that he believes he should be paid what the most productive WRs in the NFL make because, frankly, he's among the top producers. The five highest-paid WRs in 2009 averaged $9.5 million in salary and that price is likely to climb for Marshall to be happy.

That doesn't matter now. There will be no salary cap in 2010. But no one knows what is over the fiscal horizon in the NFL -- or in this country, for that matter. So what seems like an acceptable contract now could become an anchor around the neck of a future Dolphins offseason.

I'm not saying Brandon Marshall won't be traded. He likely will.The Broncos want badly to get rid of him and mny teams are actively looking for WRs and want to make a splash.

I am saying any team that lands Marshall will have paid a steep, steep price to acquire a player with great talent and a great amount of baggage.

Does that sound like the Dolphins to you? I don't think so at this time.