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Reshad Jones making case about guaranteed money to Stephen Ross

If you believe the contract holdout of safety Reshad Jones is a staring contest with the two sides not budging or flinching, indeed not talking, in order to make a point, that is wrong.

I told you Tuesday, the sides are indeed talking, in hopes of resolving this contract issue with a minimum amount of drama.

But the extent of these talks is, frankly, amazing. Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Tuesday he's called and talked with Jones although he rightfully declined to be specific about the conversations. I'm told club owner Stephen Ross has also opened the lines of communication by speaking directly with Jones about the matter.

So, yes, this issue goes as far up the ladder as possible.

And what exactly is everyone discussing?

No one wants to say. Remember, everyone is being careful not to offend the other party because -- well, everyone understands Reshad Jones is almost certainly going to be a starting safety for the Miami Dolphins in 2016 and having him and the club mad at each other benefits no one.

But that doesn't change the fact that there are differences of opinion.

Some of those differences are obvious. Jones, fresh off a career 2015 season and an appearance in his first Pro Bowl, isn't happy with his current contract that pays him an average of about $7 million per year. The Dolphins, who gave Jones that deal two years ago, aren't thrilled about the idea of giving him another new deal with two more years remaining on this one.

Next year the Dolphins definitely planned to extend Jones. Not this year.

That is well known. OK, it wasn't well known, but I reported it so it is out there.

This is not known until now:

Beyond a pay bump to approximately $10 million per season on average (if not more), Jones wants guaranteed money to make him feel a sense of security.

 

According to a person familiar with the talks, Jones has told the Dolphins, including owner Ross, that he needs to feel security about his future. He has seen Dolphins players sign significant deals with the team the past few years -- Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace, Brent Grimes, Dannell Ellerbe, Phillip Wheeler. Cortland Finnegan, Brice McCain and Greg Jennings among them -- and never see the end of their deals because the Dolphins have felt comfortable swallowing whatever prorated portion of the guaranteed money that constitutes dead money to get rid of those players.

(This, by the way, is an instance of team business moves getting noticed by players in the locker room because they're not dumb and those moves affect the view of the players not necessarily involved in the negotiations).

So while the average fan sees that Jones is scheduled to make $7.225 million in base salary this year and $7.06 million next year -- and both are hefty amounts -- the total prorated portion of Jones's contract that remains is approximately $1.9 million.

And as the player sees it, as all players see it, if Reshad Jones suffers a catastrophic injury this year, the Dolphins can easily decide to break ties with him before the 2017 season. The team can cut Jones and it will never have to pay his $7.06 million base in 2017. And the salary cap penalty for breaking ties with Jones before the contract expires would be $953,000 in dead money -- a cap savings of $7.085 million to the team.

Meanwhile, an injured or significantly diminished Jones, who signed a four-year deal with the Dolphins, is out the door after three years.

So much for a contract is a contract is a contract.

Look, I'm not saying I think it is right for players to want to renegotiate their four-year contracts after two years. But if teams can cut players and break the contracts, then players can certainly make their case for seeking more certainty of income before deals are expired.

Whether the player making that case wins or loses is up to the value of the player and how entrenched the team is against re-doing a contract two years out from expiration.

But this isn't quite as black and white as it seems.

I see gray area and Jones is making the case he's in that gray area.

I also see the team's viewpoint. If you re-do a deal midway through for one player, other players may want the same treatment. Ah, in this case, the team buys into the thinking that players in the locker room are watching the personnel department's contract moves.

Anyway, it's a tough situation for all involved.

I see both sides. Both sides have a point, particularly when the player making his argument is ascending, coming off a career year and a cornerstone of the defense.

I think that is the reason this issue is so delicate. Both sides see the other's points. Jones, I assume, has been able to plead his case to Ross directly. The owner, I assume, has been able to explain the team's stance to Jones. Directly.

Fascinating.

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