The MIami Dolphins open their 2012 training camp Thursday, with both rookies and veterans reporting. The first practice will take place the next morning, with the public able attend. With the eyes of the fans and the media getting to see the Dolphins in their first official practice of the NFL season, currently, there will be three noticable abscenes on the field - rookies Ryan Tannehill, Michael Egnew, and Olivier Vernon all have not signed a contract, and could officially become hold-outs this Thursday.
In the time of a set rookie wage scale, signing the three remaining Dolphins players should not be an issue. The hang ups all have to be with the "offset" language. Essentially, these are the extra pieces surrounding the actually salary. For example, in the Washington Redskins' negotiations with second overall pick Robert Griffin III, the holdup was what would happen to guaranteed money, should the Redskins release Griffin, and he sign with a new team. The Redskins wanted the money they owe him to be able to subtract out his salary from the new team, while RG3 wanted the two hypothetical contracts to have no tie to each other - the Redskins would owe him the full amount of the guarantee, with the other team's money being new money.
While the NFL has historically done nothing without an impending deadline, the lack of three players being signed is conceraning for Miami fans. All three will most likely be signed before the start of training camp this Friday - but until there is ink on paper, strange things can happen.
In the case of Tannehill, the contract should be fairly simple to complete. Mark Barron, Tampa Bay's seventh overall draft choice, signed a four-year, $14.5 million contract. Behind Tannehill, the ninth overall pick Luke Kuechly signed a four-year, $12.58 million deal with the Carolina Panthers. WIth the frameworkin in place around him, Tannehill should end up with a four-year deal, in the $13.5 million range.
Tannehill is one of nine first round picks still unsigned, with five of those nine, including Tannehill, being top ten picks. Right now, the Dolphins are reportedly holding firm on their version of the offset language, and really, general manager Jeff Ireland has the advantage in these negotiations. Four quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the draft, with Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts), RG3, and Brandon Weeden (Cleveland Browns), all being handed the starter's job. However, Tannehill has not been handed anything. He has to earn the position if he wants to start this year, with veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard as his competition. If Tannehill misses any part of training camp, all he is doing is hurting his development, and lessening his chance to start in 2012.
The Dolphins have time to complete all three deals, and most likely will before the rookies are supposed to hit the practice field. But, until they are all signed, Miami fans will worry, and the countdown will continue.