There's going to be a lot written and talked about this latest move. Already, we've seen a wide variety of emotions out of the fans upon hearing about the release of Zach Thomas. Really, though, what more can be said? Not much, but I throw out my 2 cents just for fun.
Yesterday was a tough day for Dolphin fans, and with good reason. A 12 year relationship has just ended...and on Valentine's Day of all days. Ok, ok, so it wasn't that kind of relationship, though some might claim the kind of relationship fans have to players is just as strong and emotional. Zach Thomas was/is truly great, in every sense of the word. He was a great middle linebacker on the field. But he was an even better person off the field. Sure, we can talk about his play and his production all we want. We can talk about how he's a 7 time pro bowler, the most ever for a Dolphins player. We can chat about his 1,866 career tackles, which is more tackles than any linebacker currently in the Hall of Fame has. We could even talk for hours about his leadership and how important it has been over his career; how he's a workaholic and studies the game inside and out, setting a good example for everybody around him. But not enough can be said about all of his work in the community. Zach Thomas wasn't only a Dolphins player, he was a South Florida icon. And you put all this together and what you get are seemingly millions of broken hearts. Yup, it was a tough day for sure...
It's a shame it had to end like this. It really is. We're talking about a guy who gave the Miami Dolphins organization everything he had for 12 seasons. Even in the dark ages of Dolphins football when this franchise provided us fans with nothing but false hope (or no hope at all), watching Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor play together always gave us fans a little something to cheer for. But now Thomas is on his way out of Miami, and the future of Jason Taylor is as cloudy as ever (though I do think he remains). Yes indeed, times, they are a-changin'.
In his statement released to the public, Zach says he will always consider himself a Miami Dolphin. And it's a safe bet that no matter what the future holds, Dolphin fans will always consider Zach a Miami Dolphin. Personally, I don't even care if he goes to play for Dallas or New England or any other team, he'll always be a Miami Dolphin to me. And all we can really say to Zach now is "thanks for the memories."
But, honestly, is anyone really shocked by this. I'm not. And I will not hold this against the new regime. The bottom line is that football is a business and it makes perfect sense to release Thomas and save the $5.65 million in cap space. Some say we should have just offered a pay cut to keep him here. But who is to say he would have accepted. Now that he's a free agent, he only wants to play for a contender. Even if he did decide to stay in Miami, even at a reduced salary, by the time the Dolphins were contenders, Zach would have been on his way to retirement. So it's a wise move and I'm not against it like some are. Is it a little saddening? Of course. But what I'm now anxious to see is how the Dolphins will use all this cap room they are clearing.
Again, to Zach, I say "thanks for everything and good luck."
But now is the time to look ahead...
Free Agency Rumors
So with that, let's begin looking ahead.
There's only 2 weeks left until free agency begins, and only 1 week left for teams to designate their "franchise" players. To date, the only players to be officially tagged (or close to officially tagged) are LJ Smith, Terrell Suggs, and Karlos Dansby. More will come as the deadline nears.
So let's talk rumors. Here's one rumor making rounds courtesy of East Coast Sports News:
Quick strike? It's a nice thought, but are we really supposed to believe that Asante Samuel would sign quickly when he's likely going to get the largest contract of all free agents this year? I would doubt it. Regardless, I'm all for Samuel coming to Miami, even if it costs $11 million per year. As for Faneca, I'm not so sure I'd be happy with the Dolphins signing him to a huge deal. He's already 31 and, though he fills a BIG need, it just doesn't make sense for the Dolphins to give a guy of his age a big contract. But with that said, if this regime believes he is indeed worth it, then I won't complain too much if it happens.
Rumor #2 comes as no surprise and is courtesy of the Dallas Morning News:
Bring him on down!! I'm all for Hamlin signing a 5 or 6 year deal and the Dolphins finally having a playmaking safety who is a big hitter and can play in coverage.
So my point here? It's sad to see the great Zach Thomas leave, but the future is exciting. I'll miss Zach as much as anyone, but the rebuilding is underway in Miami and exciting times lay ahead...hopefully!