Olivier Vernon did not get a sack on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. But he made himself some money anyway.
In one of the most quiet ways, the Miami Dolphins defensive end dominated Philadelphia left tackle Lane Johnson and was a key part of Miami's defensive dominance of the line of scrimmage the final three quarters of a 20-19 win.
Vernon had six quarterback hits. He had a quarterback hurry. He also had four tackles, including two for loss. (He also had two missed tackles, and there's that for the sake of full disclosure). Generally he played very well.
But because he didn't get a sack the only folks that will likely notice are people that watch tape -- the Dolphins organization. And, yes, other organizations.
Vernon, you see, is scheduled to be an unsigned free agent after this year. And as has been their policy for most (if not all) their upcoming unsigned players, the Dolphins are not rushing to the bank to offer a contract extension.
Receiver Rishard Matthews, for example, has been Miami's most productive player who is scheduled to become a free agent in 2016 and his people and the Dolphins have not spoken about a new deal at all.
The thing is the Dolphins have wide receivers now and will have wide receivers in '16 -- with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker all under contract relatively cheaply.
The thing is also the Dolphins are going to be thin at defensive end. Cameron Wake may or may not be back from his torn Achilles tendon at a cap cost of $9.8 million and at age 34. Dion Jordan, suspended this season for violating the NFL drug policy, may or may not be in the team's plans but regardless, who is counting on him, anyway?
And so, Olivier Vernon.
Only two sacks so far this season.
Yet, valuable for the unseen kind of stuff I shared earlier and the fact he attacks the offensive left tackle, who is often the better lineman for offenses rather than the right tackle.
The Vernon camp has been silent on what is looming as have been the Dolphins. That's because nothing is happening right now.
But in the next few weeks, you'll hear speculation of a possible franchise tag on Vernon or a transition tag on Vernon. You'll hear talk of the Vernon side wanting $30-$35 million in guaranteed money to re-sign.
And as we inch closer to free agency, you'll hear about a handful of teams interested in Vernon after the Indianapolis Combine -- which is an annual tamperingfest in the NFL.
So what's going to happen?
The Dolphins believe Vernon, a Miami native who attended high school and college here, will or should give them a hometown discount for the privilege of staying home. The other side believes Vernon is going to the highest bidder. Surprising, right?
The Dolphins hold the trump card in that if they do not want to lose Vernon, they can franchise him. But the other side looks at that trump card and sees a guaranteed $15 million payday to play for one year.
That is 10 times what Vernon is making this year.
And what if the Dolphins do not franchise Vernon? What if that price is too steep?
They can transition him for about $12 million for one year. And they still might lose him on the open market as they lost Charles Clay because while there is right of first refusal there is no compensation of any kind for signing a transition tag player.
What does this mean?
It means it is puzzling why the Dolphins don't try to get a better deal. Now.
It is shocking why the sides aren't already meeting to at least establish a footing for getting a deal done. Here's the thing: The common thinking is that conducting talks during the season is bad policy because it potentially distracts a player from performing on the field.
I call phooey on that.
I say a team approaches a player during the season, it sends the message, "Hey, we value you. We want you going forward." That isn't a distraction. That's a motivator to the player to perform better and show the team it's right to show interest.
And yet ... nothing.
While Vernon quietly goes about increasing his worth to the people who watch tape -- including other teams.