Well the NFL season is now officially over - with the Pro Bowl (which I'll get to in a second) being played on Sunday in Hawaii. Now all of our focus shifts to free agency, which begins in less than 3 weeks, and to the scouting combine, which begins in a week and a half.
So let's talk about some of the news you might have missed this weekend.
And don't forget to cast your vote for the first 3 categories of the first annual Matty Awards.
JAKE LONG HURTS ANKLE, BUT IS 'FINE'
This is why I absolutely hate the Pro Bowl. It's a completely worthless game in which the game's best players - those players most valuable to their teams - could suffer an injury. And, for a little while, Dolphin fans had to go through that scare.
Jake Long injured his right ankle on Sunday during the 4th quarter of the Pro Bowl. It really didn't look too good upon first viewing. But he did leave the field on his own power and, two series later, lined up for the game's final snap - a QB kneel down. But the best news Dolphin fans got was courtesy of Jake Long's postcards on MD.com. In his postcard following the game, Jake writes:
"Toward the end of the game, I got my ankle rolled up, but it is nothing. I feel fine."
Jake went on to talk about how he planned on spending the rest of his Sunday in Hawaii, hanging by the pool, checking out the beach, and attending a luau with fireworks. So he doesn't seem to concerned about his ankle.
But that doesn't change the fact that this "all-star" game is completely pointless and needs to be changed. You can't risk a star player being hurt in an exhibition game that is played after the season. Some of these guys might not have eveb had pads on in over a month. Why subject them to the potential risk of injury? And yes, I know you can just point out how other sports have all-star games as well - and those are mid-season. But none of those sports feature as much contact as football. And the risk of injury in football is higher than in other sports.
Unfortunately, things won't change until a star player blows out a knee in this pointless exhibition game. I just hope that player isn't a Dolphin.
As for the game itself, I really didn't watch too much of it. I did see some of Ronnie's runs, though, and he looked good. He looked fresh. And I can't wait to see how well he might play next year, being further removed from his '07 knee surgery.
TALKING CAREY AND HOLLIDAY
It's rare that I ever say this, but the Herald's Armando Salguero actually wrote a good article on Sunday that talks about two key offseason decisions that the Dolphins will have to make. And they involve the futures of Vernon Carey and Vonnie Holliday.
Carey, as we all know, is an unrestricted free agent. And while he played decently at right tackle - especially as a run blocker - he wasn't as good as many thought he might be in his return to RT. So that leaves the Dolphins in a dilemma. If Carey is unsigned come February 27, the first day of free agency, other teams - especially teams that need a left tackle - will begin throwing money at Vernon, making it even tougher for the Dolphins to bring him back.
But as Armando says, letting Carey walk would really undo all the improvement that was made along the offensive line last offseason. The Dolphins would be right back to square one - with a hole at tackle and improvements needed along the interior.
One option that Barry Jackson writes would be to place the franchise tag on Carey. Says Jackson in his article:
The Dolphins told one person they would consider placing the franchise tag on Vernon Carey if needed, but that would be costly (reportedly $8.45 million for 2009).
Of course, considering how tight-lipped Bill Parcells and compaany are, I find it hard to imagine that the Dolphins are running around telling people what they are thinking about. But it does raise the question: is Vernon Carey worth "franchising"? His '09 salary - completely guaranteed, would be just under eight and a half million dollars. Is Carey - or any right tackle, worth that kind of money?
The Dolphins have until 4 pm eastern on February 19 to decide. That's the deadline for teams to use their tags. So I'd imagine contract talks between Carey and the Dolphins should heat up this week.
The Vonnie Holliday situation is a little different. Holliday, you see, carries a $5.75 million cap charge in 2009. Of that, $2.8 million is salary and $1.5 million is a roster bonus that is dued to be paid on March 3, with $200,000 more in bonuses due. Factoring in Holliday's guaranteed amortized bonuses, cutting Vonnie before March 3 would save the Dolphins $3.25 million in cap room in '09. So the question then becomes if Holliday is worth that $3.25 million.
Armando Salguero, for once, explains the Dolphins' dilemma well, writing:
Along with nose tackle Jason Ferguson, Holliday invested valuable personal time to help immature Paul Soliai learn to be a professional. Holliday also helped Merling and Langford learn the NFL game.
And although he was helping the rookies, Holliday also served as an example how veterans should act while the team was rebuilding and retooling with youngsters.
Holliday, a team captain, never complained, never second-guessed and never asked out of Miami, as another notable veteran lineman did. Holliday was exemplary in how he worked for the Dolphins. Now the Dolphins must avoid making an example of him.
I think that's the issue at hand here. Can a front office justify simply cutting a team leader, a team captain, who has been the ideal veteran teammate in that lockerroom simply because of 3.25 million dollars? I don't think so. And I wouldn't, if I was them. I just think it sends a questionable message to the rest of the team - especially to the young guys.
What do you think?