Langford close to signing; two 2nd rounders continue to wait...

Remember how quickly the Dolphins started out signing their draft picks this year?  They were the early league leader in signings and GM Jeff Ireland even set a goal of July 1 to have all the draft picks signed.  But that didn't happen.

Now, though, the Palm Beach Post is reporting that the Dolphins are close to signing 3rd round pick Kendall Langford.  Ireland reportedly said that Langford would sign "any day now."

That's good news for sure.

But what about the team's two 2nd round picks, Phillip Merling and Chad Henne?

We talked a few months back about how the Patriots' loss of a first round pick because of "spygate" would potentially create issues for signing Merling because he was the 32nd player picked - usually a first rounder.  But in 2008, the 32nd pick was the first pick of round 2.

However, the Post points out another issue facing the Dolphins in terms of getting Merling and Henne signed.  What is it?  It seems the Dolphins, thanks to having 9 draft picks (one of which being the #1 overall pick), are running out of money in their rookie salary pool.  What this means is that the final picks to sign will end up losing out on "up-front" money.  And this could be why it's taking so long to get Merling and Henne signed.

Another issue facing Henne and Merling, and all 2nd round picks for that matter, is the fact that the owners opted out of the collective bargaining agreement.  This is creating difficulty in getting any 2nd round picks to sign and is likely the reason that only 1 second round pick in the entire league has signed. 

Basically, most 2nd rounders sign 4 year deals.  However, there is no CBA in place for that 4th year (2011).  This raises issues when dealing with things such as guaranteed money in that 4th and final season.  Because no CBA is in place, teams can't guarantee money beyond 2010.  And the NFLPA is urging the agents for these players to take negotiations slow until some kind of resolution can be found for this issue.

And a resolution will likely come next week when the Player's Association goes in front of a "Special Master" to figure out this situation.  So assuming that some kind of answer to this problem is figured out by the end of next week, that would leave the Dolphins one week to get Henne and Merling signed before the start of training camp on July 26.

Will there be pressure to get this done?  Sure.  But fear not - as I'm quite confident that both Merling and Henne will be signed by camp.

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