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Agent's mega-dealings with Miami Dolphins sometimes problematic

My friend Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com earlier this week put up a post making the point that because Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase and first round pick Laramy Tunsil share the same agent, the Dolphins surely felt more comfortable with making the pick.

And that is probably true.

Agent Jimmy Sexton, who is Gase's agent, did indeed call the Dolphins and did indeed try to give the entire organization a sense all was well with Tunsil despite the gasmask bong video released via a hacker of his social media accounts minutes prior to the draft.

I have no argument with the premise. The Dolphins obviously felt good enough about what Sexton was selling that they bought in to drafting his client.

My question is why would they be so comfortable with anything Sexton says?

Yes, Sexton is a well-respected and longtime agent representing scores of players and coaches. His reputation as a behind-the-scenes advocate for his clients is immaculate. But that's the point. Sexton isn't calling the Dolphins to do them a favor. He's calling them to do his client's bidding.

One of the players Sexton once represented was running back Cecil Collins. And Collins came to the Dolphins after a compelling pitch by Sexton to then-coach Jimmy Johnson.

Remember that?

Collins came to South Florida with a soiled reputation in college after having been suspended multiple times and kicked off not one but two teams -- LSU and McNeese State. He had been twice arrested for illegally entering dwellings occupied by women he was keen on. He claimed he was sleepwalking and had no recollection of entering the girls' rooms, so he got probation. But he got kicked off the LSU campus for that and later was dismissed at McNeese for violating that probation after failing a drug screening.

Despite that history, Sexton vouched for him before the 1999 draft.

And the Dolphins picked Collins in the fifth round. And before that season was over, Collins broke into the home of a neighbor at the Palm Trace apartments in Davie, where the Dolphins train, and was arrested when the woman in the dwelling called police. Collins said he simply wanted to watch the woman sleep.

He was convicted and as a result of that and the new violation of his probation, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, for which he served 13. So, no, the guy Sexton vouched for didn't quite live up to the recommendation.

Sexton represented and still represents Nick Saban. So when the Dolphins went to Baton Rouge in January of 2005 to convince Saban to take their job after he'd turned down several other NFL head coaching opportunities, Sexton was there. And he helped consummate that marriage.

And less than two years later, he was helping Saban plan his divorce from the Dolphins.

Indeed, while Saban was saying, "I will not be the Alabama coach," Sexton was working behind the scenes to keep then Alabama athletic director Mal Moore on the hook, so to speak, and interested about wooing his client.

So Sexton, bless his heart, worked every bit as hard to get Saban out of the Dolphins organization in 2006 as he had to get Saban into the Dolphins organization in 2005.

After taking a mild break from Sexton clients in 2007, the Dolphins embraced Sexton's empire again in 2008, this time in resounding fashion. The Dolphins hired Sexton client Bill Parcells as their ruler of the realm. And Parcells hired Sexton client Jeff Ireland as the general manager and Sexton client Tony Sparano as their head coach.

Now, I love Bill Parcells. I have nothing but the highest respect for his football knowledge and Pro Football Hall of Fame credentials. To this day he is the Sherpa to many, many NFL coaches -- lending wise counsel when they call. And they call him often.

But I also recognize his faults. And one of Parcells's faults is that he never was able to stick with a job very long after he left the Giants in 1990. He lasted four seasons as Patriots head coach, three seasons as Jets head coach, four seasons as Jets GM, four seasons as Cowboys head coach.

When he came to the Dolphins, he came with a reputation as something of a mercenary. And then-Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga was a little concerned about that. (Not enough, but a bit, according to Huizenga himself).

"I knew his reputation," Huizenga told me in 2009. "And it was something we (the Dolphins) discussed. But after talking to Bill and his guy (Sexton) we were convinced he'd commit to us for an amount of time and we got comfortable with that. That situation was more about us committing to him."

How'd all that committing of commitments work out?

Commitment has been a thing for some of Sexton's Dolphins clients. The Ireland-Sparano dynamic was fascinating and sad and, yes, ugly.

You'll recall after the 2010 season, relatively new owner Stephen Ross wanted to test the waters with then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. So he asked Ireland, a Sexton client, to meet him in the Bay Area so they could interview Harbaugh. (Ireland didn't fly there with Ross as has been widely reported). This was done behind the back of Sexton client Sparano, who learned he was potentially about to be replaced via news reports.

And Sparano was angry Ireland never gave him a clue what was happening.

So did these two men -- Ireland and Sparano -- who came from the Dallas Cowboys together, who had been tied at the hip by Parcells, and shared Sexton as an agent, talk about this rift?

Was there, you know, communication?


Did Sexton mediate between the two men to try to salvage a relationship, their jobs, the well-being of the Dolphins?

I'm told not a lot.

Sexton did, however, get after Ross for a contract extension for Sparano. The owner made a mistake and Sexton made him pay for it. Literally.

Sexton made the Dolphins pay for Ndamukong Suh as well. Wait. No, that's wrong.

Sexton made the Dolphins overpay for Suh.

The team was one of three finalists interested in Suh last offseason. Detroit and Oakland were the other two. And when bidding got above $15 million per year, the Lions dropped out, per sources. And when bidding got around $17 million per year, the Raiders basically opted out.

By the way, Suh didn't really want to go to the Raiders. And he was fully aware of the tax implications of living in high-tax California versus no-state-tax Florida.

Did Sexton tell the Dolphins this? Nope.

Did Sexton stop Miami's bidding at $17 million per year? Nope.

Sexton got the Dolphins to rise to a whopping $19 million per year. The price was above the team's initial budget for the move and a price that had budgetary repercussions later on.

And this means two things:

Jimmy Sexton is a great advocate and agent for his clients. And the Dolphins should realize this and that he does not have the organization's best interests in mind when he's talking to them. He has his clients' best interests in mind.

"I always bristle at people calling me puppeteer," Sexton told CBSSports.com last year. "I just try to take each client and do the best for them, what's in their best interest at the time."

That's good. I get it. That's his job.

But the Dolphins, more than most, should realize when this guy calls, he's about his clients, not them. And when he's dealing with clients concerning other clients -- as in the Sparano-Ireland dynamic -- it doesn't always turn out to everyone's benefit.

The Dolphins have been burned multiple times by Sexton doing what is best for his clients. And I'm not talking about minor deals involving minimum-salary dollars.

I'm talking franchise direction-changing stuff.

Am I the only one who recognizes this, Miami Dolphins?