Channing Crowder wants his money, but will he get it?

There's an interesting little nugget in Barry Jackson's latest "Sports Buzz" column.  Here's what is said about Channing Crowder and his future in Miami:

The Dolphins have not responded to inquiries from Channing Crowder's agent about a new contract, and with Crowder set to become an unrestricted free agent next spring, the situation bears monitoring. Crowder's camp believes he's being seriously underpaid. With a $1 million base salary for this season, he's tied for fourth with Reggie Torbor among the team's linebackers behind linebacker/defensive end Jason Taylor ($7.5 million), Joey Porter ($4.8 million) and Akin Ayodele ($2.5 million).

It's understandable that Channing feels that he's underpaid.  But he needs to understand that football is a business.  Why would the Dolphins invest any more money into Crowder when he really hasn't been a stand-out player?

The thing with Crowder is that he has the ability - there's no doubt about it.  But he just hasn't proven to this point that he can be a difference maker in a defense.  And that's why the Dolphins shouldn't be in any rush to offer him a long-term contract.

Just look at his stats compared to Akin Ayodele's through Ayodele's first 3 years in the league.  Crowder has more tackles (266 to 262), but has fewer "difference-making plays."  Crowder has more tackles for a loss through their first 3 NFL seasons (7.5 to 6).  But Ayodele has more sacks (6 to 1.5), interceptions (3 to 0), passes defensed (10 to 8), and forced fumbles (4 to 2).  So for Crowder to think he deserves more money than even a slightly above average player like Ayodele seems like a bit of a reach to me.

And the bottom line here is that Crowder's play has actually tailed off over his first 3 seasons, if anything.  If you look at his numbers, you'd say that year #2 was his best one so far.  And if you watch him on the field, it's clear to me that once Zach Thomas went down to an injury, Crowder didn't step in and play well - like most thought he would.  He disappointed.  And that's why it just doesn't make sense for the Dolphins to commit to Channing at this point.

Don't get me wrong, I like Crowder as a player.  But this front office shouldn't work out any long-term contract with him until he proves that he can take his game up to the next level and become that solid inside linebacker that some think he can become.  I think the Dolphins need to let the impending free agency act as a motivator to Crowder.  Let's see how he performs when there's clearly money at stake.  Then, at some point during the season, if the Dolphins are liking what they are seeing, that's when you lock up Crowder with a long-term extension.

Agreed?  Or am I just totally off on this one?

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