FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Cameron Wake #91 of the Miami Dolphins reacts after he sacked Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The Miami Dolphinshave officially kicked off the 2012 season with their opening day of "voluntary" workouts today. As the team begins its work under new head coach Joe Philbin and his staff, there is one notable absence, linebacker Cameron Wake.
NFL.com's Jason La Canfora first reported the absence from the Dolphins' workout, reporting that Wake could be absent for "quite some time."
The Dolphins' only true pass rusher, Wake is scheduled to earn $650,000 this season. Meanwhile, players with comparable stats over the past two years - names like Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Trent Cole and Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson- are earning $12 million per year. This offseason, free agent pass rusher Mario Williams signed with the Buffalo Bills for $16 million per season.
Wake has desired a new contract for a while, and the Dolphins are well aware of that. The team reportedly initiated talks with several players this offseason, to include Wake, and is working on locking down some of the star players who are entering their final year. Wake has been with the team since signing from the CFL in 2009, tallying 32 sacks in that span, leading the team. Wake was named to the 2012 Pro Bowl with 16 sacks that season.
According to ProFootball Focus, Wake is one of the most dominating pass rushers in the game, leading the league in combined sacks, QB hits, QB pressures, and holding penalties drawn. Wake's total of 90 such stats lead the league in 2011, with Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers coming in second with 74. Peppers currently makes $14 million per year.
Wake has played under his initial contract, averaging just $650,000 per year, with a $500,000 signing bonus, since 2009. He could be looking to jump up into the $12-14 million per year category, but his age, 30, could be a limiting factor for the Dolphins. While he would be attractive in the free agency market next year, the Dolphins would be able to franchise tag him before that could happen.