A quick Saturday 5 p.m. update:
Jonathan Martin's season with the Dolphins officially ended on Saturday when the team placed him on the reserve/non-football illness list --- 33 days after Miami’s starting right tackle abruptly walked out on the team and into the national headlines.
The Dolphins told Martin they needed the roster spot and Martin did not object because he was not planning to play this season, according to an associate who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The team also offered to pay his salary for the final five games of the season, something that is not required for players placed on the non-football illness list.
That means Martin will be paid his entire $607,466 salary this season, including all nine games he will end up missing since leaving the team.
Martin already has missed four games, but the Dolphins were obligated to pay him for those four games because he was on the team’s 53-man roster until Saturday.
The Dolphins never strongly considered not paying Martin for the final five games, when he’s due $183,833. The Martin camp would have strongly objected -- and challenged that decision -- if the Dolphins had chosen not to pay him, according to a Martin associate.
Whether Martin returns to the Dolphins is very much in question. He wants to resume his career next season but prefers to play elsewhere barring a change of heart, according to the associate.
But Martin hasn't conveyed that to the Dolphins, and the associate would not completely rule out Martin playing here, because it’s possible owner Stephen Ross and others in the organization might try to convince him to return.
To even consider returning to the Dolphins, Martin would need to be assured that he would be welcomed back in a locker-room where players have largely sided with Richie Incognito, whom Martin has accused of harassment. And even that might not be enough. So at this point, Martin believes he likely will be elsewhere next season.
The Dolphins could trade Martin this off-season, but trading him now was not an option because the trade deadline passed in October. Martin is set to make $824,933 next season and $1.02 million in 2015.
The move with Martin comes a day after the Dolphins and Incognito agreed to extend Incognito’s suspension for a maximum of two additional games beyond Sunday’s Jets game, giving NFL appointed-special counsel Ted Wells time to finish his investigation into Martin’s allegations.
Incognito has been suspended since Nov. 3, when the Dolphins learned of a racially charged voicemail he left for Martin in April.
According to ESPN, Incognito was not paid for the first two games of his suspension but was paid for last week’s game against Carolina and will be paid for Sunday’s game against the Jets. He also will be paid for a maximum of two more games, after which the team must release him or reinstate him.
NFL rules allow teams to place players on unpaid suspension for as many as four weeks for conduct detrimental to the team. But the NFL, the players union, the Dolphins and Incognito all agreed to terms of the extension of Incognito’s suspension.
If the Dolphins ultimately release him, Incognito also reserves the right to file a grievance to try to collect pay for the first two games of his suspension.
Martin, who met with Wells for seven hours on Nov. 15, will have a second meeting with Wells very soon. Wells met for 8 ½ hours with Incognito and also has interviewed every Dolphins player and coach and key front office personnel.
Ross also has said he wants to meet with Martin after Wells' investigation is completed. There has been no recent contact between Martin and Dolphins coaches or management.
Martin, the Dolphins’ second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, has been receiving treatment for depression but expects to be able to play next season.
The Dolphins have long been aware of Martin's mental health issue. He received treatment for depression in April after he skipped two days of the Dolphins' offseason practices.
Kenny Zuckerman, Martin's agent, declined to comment.
The Dolphins filled Martin’s spot on the 53-man roster by promoting safety D.J. Campbell from the practice squad. The Dolphins had released Campbell from their 53-man roster earlier this week.
Reaction and thoughts from UM’s 41-31 win against Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field:
### UM’s defense was again leaky, allowing 501 yards (318 of those were in the second half, when UM was usually comfortably ahead) and more than 30 points for the fourth time in five games. (UM was actually outgained by 25 yards.)
But Miami --- which led 31-10 at halftime --- did enough defensively in the first half and overcame defensive lapses with brilliant offensive work: Stacy Coley’s three touchdowns, covering 32, 34 and 73 yards; Allen Hurns’ career-best 173 yards receiving (on nine catches); a splendid day from Stephen Morris (17 for 28, 296 yards, three touchdowns, no picks), a terrific effort from an offensive line that hadn’t played up to expectations at times this season; and impressive running from Gus Edwards.
### With a victory in a bowl game, UM (9-3) can win 10 games for the first time since 2003. The Canes already have won nine for the first time since 2009. And UM can win the ACC Coastal if North Carolina beats Duke at noon Saturday on ESPN2, and if Virginia upsets Virginia Tech at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
“We’re going in the right direction,” coach Al Golden said afterward on WQAM. "We’re not where we want to be. Hopefully, we’ll have some good luck tomorrow. These kids deserve some good fortune. I’m going to bed with the mindset that these kids will get a break and we’ll be playing next week [in the ACC championship against FSU]. These group of kids, and what they showed us in terms of courage and resiliency, that will set the platform moving forward.”
### Coley is a star in the making: He has plays of 81, 79, 62, 32, 34 and 73 yards in the past four games. His three touchdowns Friday gave him nine for the season. He was wide open on his 32-yard TD to open the scoring, took a short pass and scampered 34 yards on his second TD, and made a scintillating 73-yard run on a reverse for his third score.
He would have had four touchdowns if he hadn’t dropped one in the end zone on a pass from Stephen Morris.
As AP’s Tim Reynolds noted, Coley is the only FBS player to score touchdowns on a pass, run, punt return and kickoff return this season. Coley, who finished with 171 all-purpose yards, “has grown up,” Golden said.
“I had no idea the type of work ethic he had at that time [when UM recruited him]. His work ethic, combined with his attitude and talent, is really making him a special person. He’s got great balance, doesn’t get knocked down easily."
### Morris passed Gino Torretta to move into third place for most career passing yards in UM history, with 7736, behind only Carolina Panthers quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey and Edmonton Eskimos practice squad quarterback Jacory Harris.
Morris finished the regular season with 10 passes of 50-plus yards, seven of those for touchdowns. “He played really well, even with some of the check downs he made,” Golden said. “He’s moving up the list as one of the best in Miami history.”
### Hurns became only the fourth UM player with 1000-plus receiving yards in a season, joining Leonard Hankerson (2010), Eddie Brown (1984) and Andre Johnson (2002). Because of Duke Johnson’s injury, Hurns has been UM’s MVP this year, and look at his yardage total the past four games: 142, 107, 126 and today, 173.
Hurns tied Philip Dorsett for seventh on UM’s all-time single season reception list (58). He’s eighth on the career reception list.
### Brandon Linder, Jon Feliciano and others did very good work against Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who entered leading the nation with 26 tackles for loss. Donald had three tackles (one half for a loss) on Friday, and Morris wasn’t sacked all day.
“We had a bunch of guys on him to try to negate him,” Golden said. “Proud of the way the offensive line blocked him.”
### Edwards ran hard and decisively, finishing with 64 yards on 11 carries, including a touchdown. “We needed that – a big back,” Golden said. “He ran hard today. We’re excited about the direction he’s going.”
Dallas Crawford was held to 22 yards on 14 carries –-- just 1.4 per attempt. UM tried a wildcat play with Crawford, but that running play went nowhere. Eduardo Clements had 20 yards on five carries.
### Good to see Asante Cleveland catch his first career touchdown pass in his final regular season game. Cleveland has been a good soldier all season, accepting his blocking role with a positive attitude.
His 5-yard TD, UM’s final score of the day, was only his third catch this season. “Couldn’t be happier for the young man,” Golden said.
### First the good news defensively: UM snuffed out four of Pitt's six first-half possessions: Denzel Perryman made a very good play in coverage on a third and 2; Tracy Howard stopped a Pittsburgh receiver short of a first down (Howard has improved his tackling); Perryman made a nifty tackle for a one-yard loss (the Panthers followed with a missed 43 yard field goal).
Ufomba Kamalu's sack forced Pittsburgh to settle for a field goal on its fifth first-half possession, and UM's pass coverage was sharp on Pitt's final first-half possession, forcing a punt.
### UM allowed 92- and 95-yard drives in the second half, with the run defense against victimized on the perimeter and up the middle. Pittsburgh averaged a bloated 6.7 yards per rush on 33 attempts --- 220 in all. Unacceptable.
### How many times this season have UM defenders missed easy tackles, taken bad angles or been faked out?
It happened twice on Isaac Bennett’s 45-yard TD run in the first half. Jimmy Gaines took a bad angle, Thurston Armbrister was sealed off by a blocker and Kacy Rodgers missed a tackle. Cornelius was faked out on quarterback Tom Savage’s 7-yard TD run. Tracy Howard was faked out on Rachid Ibrahim’s 23-yard TD catch. Armbrister missed a tackle on what should have been a loss on a running play; the play instead gained 7 yards.
### Denzel Perryman played very well in the first half, but UM’s linebacker play has generally been deficient since the Florida State game. Armbrister and Cornelius have improved since arriving, but frankly, neither would be starting for a program that's Top 10 caliber. Perhaps injured Alex Figueroa will win the job next year.
And senior Jimmy Gaines, for all of his intelligence and leadership, isn’t a starting middle linebacker on a Top 10 team, either. The concern, moving forward, is that Raphael Kirby hasn’t been able to beat out Gaines.
One internal concern with Kirby is that he’s not in the right position often enough. That better change, considering he very likely will be UM’s starting middle linebacker next season.
### Good to see cornerback Artie Burns with a late pick. He was UM’s best freshman on defense over the past month. UM also has great hopes for safety Jamal Carter, who has improved.
And junior Ufomba Kamalu, a first-year Cane, has shown considerable promise the past month and will play a lot at defensive end next season.
### In pre-game workouts, several UM players --- including Jared Wheeler -- came out shirtless, in temperatures that dropped from 37 to 27 later in the game. “That was their idea," Golden said. "I started getting worried. Maybe it's a new breed."
### Anthony Chickillo was limited by a painful toe injury.
### ESPN analyst/Canes hater Mark May, on UM: “I don’t think they’re in the top echelon of the ACC.” You don’t say, Mark? Isn’t it obvious that only FSU is in the top echelon?
But UM made progess this season, and the year will look even better if Miami beats a quality team in a bowl game. But the defense needs its four- and five-star recruits to play like stars, and more of the two- and three-star players to exceed expectations.