Monday, April 19, 2010

Reader Questions: Jason Taylor, Ronnie Brown, Draft

A lot could, and will, happen this week in Dolphins land, so let's get into some of the biggest issues currently facing the team.

The Jason Taylor saga continues this year. Do you think he will be playing for the hated Jets this year? How likely is it that the Dolphins will actually trade Ronnie Brown? If the Dolphins were able to trade down with their first pick would that be a good thing? If they trade down it is likely Eric Berry and Earl Thomas would be gone if they picked in the 20s.

Let's take these one by one:

Jason Taylor
I get that the Dolphins want to wait until after the Draft before addressing Taylor's future with the team. However, I don't understand their apparent unwillingness to simply reach out to him and let him know where they stand. He's earned more than a cursory "We'll get back to you."

And even though every report has him eventually signing with the Jets, I just can't see it. I believe he genuinely does hate that franchise. All that stuff he's said about them and their fans over the years - I really think that came from the heart and wasn't made up just to get a headline. There's a reason he's not wearing a Jets jersey right now. He's had plenty of time to decide if that's where he'll end up and he's still not there - even after the fancy multiple day free agent visit, even after every insider said a contract was all but finished. Jason knows he wants to play in Miami this year and only in Miami. He's going to wait as long as it takes for them to bring him back even though it erases all his leverage. If they say wait until after the Draft, well then that's what he's going to do.

Of course, what if they don't sign him after the Draft, then what? Even though Miami is the only team he wants to play for this year, that relationship requires the participation of both sides. If Miami doesn't make some kind of commitment to him soon after the Draft, then I would not be shocked to see him in New York. But until that happens, I still see him eventually returning to Miami.

And that's a no-brainer for the Dolphins (or at least it should be). They only need to make a two-year contract offer to him. He won't command a giant salary, and this is an uncapped year anyway, so the salary doesn't matter for the first year. And after getting rid of Joey Porter and Matt Roth, what else does Miami have. Sure, Cameron Wake should probably start this year and they might draft a new OLB in the first round, but the cupboard is still bare behind that. Quentin Moses and Charlie Anderson are not better than Taylor, and they each have pretty much maxed out their potential. Either or both of them might not even make the final roster depending on who Miami drafts. Taylor, on the other hand, is still a weapon, and was probably Miami's most consistent LB last year. If they can transition him to a pass-rushing only role, that would probably keep him fresher throughout the season and let him focus on what he does best.

Ronnie Brown
I don't think it's likely that Miami trades Ronnie Brown only because I doubt any team is willing to pay the price it would be required to get him, which I peg as around a second round draft pick in this year's draft.

The team should definitely be exploring all trade avenues with him though. I love the guy, but he's a 28 year old running back who is hurt all the time. And repeat it with me now: Running backs are so ridiculously interchangeable that if Miami can get good value for Brown, they should jump on it. Miami can survive without Brown, and this front office could really use a second round pick in this draft now that they've traded their away for Brandon Marshall.

And think about it - how many more elite years do you really expect Miami to get out of Brown. Two, three at most? If they keep him with his one-year tender offer this year, that would leave him with one or two good years left. They shouldn't be signing this guy to a long term deal starting in 2011. So why not get something useful for him now before his trade value is all but gone?

The Draft
Before the Marshall trade, I would have been against trading down, provided one thing - that Dez Bryant was still on the board when Miami was picking at #12. I really wanted them to take him. But now they don't need him as much and it became a lot more likely that Denver will take him anyway.

Now, however, I think Miami absolutely has to trade down, except, again, for one exception; if S Eric Berry somehow falls to #12, Miami should take him and smile all the way to podium to hand in that card with his name on it. Berry is a top 3 talent in this draft and if he miraculously falls to Miami's pick, then they have to pounce on it. Otherwise, there will be no player available that fits Miami's specific needs that will also represent good value at that spot.

Rolando McClain would have been worth that pick, but with Karlos Dansby on board (and Crowder) it would be tough to justify that pick, even though McClain will be far better than Crowder. Earl Thomas fills a need at safety, but #12 is way way way too high to be picking him. Ditto for NT Dan Williams. Miami can't afford to reach with this pick. There will also be a bevy of DE/OLBs to choose from (Derrick Morgan, Sergio Kindle, Sean Weatherspoon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Brandon Graham) but I still think the 12th spot is too high for any one of them.

Trading down, even just two or three spots, would be a tremendous help, as it would likely net the Dolphins an additional pick in the second or third round. And the 12th spot is not a bad place to be when it comes to trading down. You avoid paying out a huge contract that goes along with a top 10 pick, and the team trading up will have its pick of an elite talent in a very deep draft. So if Miami wants to trade down, they should have some takers.

Rumors are already making that rounds that the Eagles are one team that wants to trade up into Miami's spot in order to take a safety. The thinking goes that the Eagles would package their first round pick (24th overall) with their first second round pick (37th) to move up to #12. That trade would be an absolute steal for Miami according to Football Outsider's Actual Draft Value Chart. The 12th overall pick is worth 2665 points. The 24th and 37th picks are worth a combined 4020 points. Even if they were to give us their original second round pick (55th overall) that deal would still be well worth it. I really hope that is what transpires on Thursday.

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