Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey today spoke with the media for the first time since the 2014 season ended and one thing was left very clear from his session at the Senior Bowl, in Mobile, Ala.:
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill definitely has a future with the Dolphins.
Receiver Mike Wallace? Not certain.
Everyone speculatated that already based on what happened throughout last season and, perhaps just as importantly, what happened in the season-finale when Wallace had a public falling out with coaches.
But the fact the team's general manager was so effusive about Tannehill -- saying he is "excited about his future with the Dolphins" -- while declining to give Wallace, the team's highest paid player, anywhere close to similar treatment is telling.
The stats tell you Ryan Tannehill did indeed improve last season over the previous year. But the stats say Wallace, who doubled his TDs from the previous year (10 compared to five), also dramatically improved in the most important category.
(Yes, points scored to me is the most important category as that's what decides game outcomes).
Yet, Tannehill got the kind words from the GM.
"We're really excited about what he accomplished this year and what he's going to continue to accomplish," Hickey said. "... We really like the progress he made and excited about his future with the Dolphins."
And Wallace did not.
"I think we're all frustrated with the way the season went," Hickey said when asked about Wallace. "... The goal is to use that as motivation as we approach the offseason ..."
Hickey's message relative to Wallace is there is a decision to be made about his status -- which shows the club is unhappy with the player in some regards ...
"We're looking at all things with our players," Hickey said.
So is Wallace a fit? Yes or No?
Will Wallace's act in the last game factor into your decision on him?
"We look at all those things with our players," Hickey said. "Again, it was a disappointing finish, there's no sugarcoating that. You have to look at the season in totality. We evaluate players on a daily basis. Every practice, every meeting, all those things. We are constantly looking at players and that's what goes into looking at players in totality as we make decisions."
Well, apparently the evaluation of the quarterback is more or less done. He's got a future in Miami. No issues. Big decision made -- although the Dolphins must decide whether to enter into negotiations for a long-term contract extension or simply exercise a one-year injury guarantee option that extends Tannehill through the 2016 season.
The evaluation of Wallace, meanwhile, will definitely include how he dealt with coaches as well as his chemistry with teammates, particularly Tannehill.
Wallace, as I have reported, privately complained multiple times throughout the season about the number of opportunities he was getting in games. That private issue became quite public when he did it in the season-finale against the New York Jets -- leading to him being benched by coach Joe Philbin.
The entire matter has put Wallace's Miami future in doubt at a time his contract does not necessarily give any of the involved parties motivation to part ways. From a cap perspective, a parting of ways could hurt both the player and the team.
Yet that parting is obviously very much on the table.
And the fact the general manager drew such a stark contrast between the way he addressed the questions about Wallace and Tannehill makes that obvious.