The legend grows: Jason Taylor returns to Miami

Is it possible for an ugly divorce between two parties to actually result in an even more heated love affair when the parties reunite?  I wouldn't have said "yes" in the past, that's for sure.  But Jason Taylor's return to the franchise in which he became a legend proves that it is indeed possible for the reunion of two separated parties to generate a new higher level of buzz than ever before.

And in doing so, the legend of Jason Taylor in South Florida has not only been repaired, but has grown to heights rarely seen in sports.

Who would have thought that all of last offseason's perceived drama that resulted Taylor being traded to Washington would actually end with Taylor becoming even more of an iconic figure in South Florida than he was before?

Well that is exactly what has happened - proving that distance really does make the heart grow fonder.  And I can speak of this myself because I was one of the more vocal "anti-JT" Dolphin fans last offseason as all of that ugliness unfolded.

But there's a big difference between how last offseason unfolded and how the recent signing of Taylor went down.  Last year, it seemed as though Taylor was showing no loyalty towards his team and his coaches.  He seemed to care more about his image and his ego than he did about his beloved franchise and about winning.  And it wasn't even the Dancing With The Stars gig that bothered me last year.  It was Jason's lack of devotion to his team - highlighted by his unwillingness to take part in the new coaching staff's offseason conditioning program.  That's what bothered me most and is essentially why I was 100% in favor of the trade that sent Taylor to the Redskins and returned Miami a 2nd round draft pick.

But things have changed in less than a year.  Taylor gave up millions of dollars with the Redskins because he felt as though he didn't deserve the money.  The 2008 season was a rough one for Jason thanks, in large part, to his freak calf injury that caused him to miss three games and play through pain in many more.

It was his poor performance last season that seemed to get to him.  Well, that and his need to be closer to his family.  Taylor had his agent meet with the Redskins front office and express his desire to depart Washington, passing up on millions of dollars.  Truth be told, Jason has never been about the money.  He has more than enough for his family.  To Jason, it always seemed to be about two things - on-field success and his fame/image.

It was that need for fame that bothered many last offseason - likely including Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland.  But things are different now.  Taylor reportedly has had his agent pass up on two movie offers recently so that he could focus on preparing for football.  And in Jason's heart, there was only one team he really wanted to play for:

Taylor, a source said, never intended to play for any other team but Miami. ''Miami is the only place I'm going to play,'' Taylor told friends and family after gaining his release from Washington.

But the biggest difference between last offseason and this one is Jason's desire to take part in Miami's offseason program.  In fact, the Miami Herald is reporting that Taylor had been in contact with Tony Sparano through text messages and that Sparano had even given Jason the basic parameters of the Dolphins' offseason conditioning program.  And Taylor, in fact, has been following those basic parameters with a personal trainer that he has hired.  Taylor is also expected to take part in the team's program once everything is finalized.

How will Taylor fit in?

That's the question that this coaching staff will have to answer between now and September.  How will they use Jason?  I'd imagine that he'll likely work as at least a nickel and dime pass rusher opposite of Joey Porter - giving the Dolphins that true pass-rushing threat they lacked last season on the other side of Porter in clear passing situations.

But Taylor's role in Miami's base defense is unclear.  He's definitely more of a weakside linebacker and wouldn't fit the mold of what a strongside linebacker in Miami's 3-4 must do - which is stop the run.  That's why Matt Roth was such a good fit in his role last season.  He has the ability to clog up running lanes and take on blockers.  At this point in his career, Taylor - much like Joey Porter nowadays - isn't exactly a good run defender.

So it's going to be very interesting to see how Paul Pasqualoni and his defensive coaching staff decide to use Taylor on first and second downs when the opposing offense isn't in a clear passing situation.

More than just on-field production

No matter now Jason is used on the field, this move was about more than just production on the field.  It's a move that speaks volumes about how this front office and this coaching staff feel about this team.  It's a move that helps the Dolphins "win now" while also not restricting them long term.

It's a move that adds another veteran leader into the locker room - adding to the voices of other veteran leaders like Chad Pennington and Joey Porter.

It's a move that brings a teacher and mentor to some of the young guys - like pass-rushing CFL transplant Cameron Wake.

It's a move that energizes a fanbase even more than it already was.  When you bring back a legend like Taylor, you sell more tickets and you raise the level of excitement nationally for your team.

And most importantly, it's a move that really presents little risk to the team.  There was no great financial investment made by the Dolphins.  Meanwhile, the potential payoff is huge.

Jason released a statement on Wednesday when this news broke, saying:

"My heart has always been in Miami and so I'm truly excited to call myself a Dolphin once again."

And Dolphin fans are just as excited as you are, Jason, to call you a Dolphin once again!

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