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Weekend Roundup: Talking Ronnie Brown, draft picks & more

I know it seems like it's been forever since the Dolphins last took the field in full pads.  But now we're less than two weeks away from the beginning of training camp.  No - they aren't games.  But it's still football - with live hitting.  And there will be a number of things to watch down in Davie once camp kicks off on August 2.  Needless to say, we're going to turn our attention to preparing for some of these storylines over the next two weeks.  So be sure to check back here everyday.

Now onto some news (or lack thereof) from this weekend:

One of the hot topics this offseason has been the issue of Ronnie Brown's contract.  We've talked a lot about whether or not the Dolphins should extend Brown, who is scheduled to become a free agent following the season.  Of course, if no collective bargaining agreement is reached prior to the beginning of the 2010 league year, Brown would only be a restricted free agent due to the clauses that get triggered in the event of an "uncapped" season.

With that said, a report in the Miami Herald over the weekend claims that the Dolphins have approached Ronnie's agent about a potential multiyear contract extension:

The Dolphins indicated they want to make a multiyear commitment to potential 2010 free agent Ronnie Brown and have had preliminary conversations about a contract extension, agent Todd France said. The sides will speak further during training camp.

This is something that is expected to heat up during training camp and is certainly something that will receive a lot of attention.  At 27, odds are that Ronnie will have just this one opportunity for a final big contract.  We all know running backs have a short shelf life.  And while Brown doesn't have the carries on him that other backs his age typically do, he has already suffered one serious freak injury.

I think what's most interesting about this is that it will be one of the first times that we get to see how this regime will handle these kinds of contract situations.  What will be their philosophy?  Will they decide not to extend Brown before the season and make him perform for big money?  If they do that, Brown could potentially increase his asking price even more with a big season.  Or will they give him the money now?  Doing that, though, could take some of the edge off of the player because he is no longer playing for that big contract.

Personally, I don't think Ronnie is the kind of player who needs to possibility of a lucrative contract to motivate him.  He has repeatedly said that he wants to be known as one of the game's best rushers.  I don't think that extending him before the season would take the edge off of Brown one bit.

Then, of course, comes the question of how many years and how much money Brown should receive.  Brown's rookie deal was a 5 year deal worth approximately $35 million and included roughly $20 million in guaranteed money.  What's a fair deal for Brown now?  I think you need to look at how the running back market has shaped up over the past two or three years.  In 2007, Frank Gore signed a 4 year, $28 million contract extension that included about $13 million guaranteed.  In 2008, Michael Turner signed a free agent deal worth $34.5 million over 6 years ($15 million guaranteed).  And just a few months ago, Maurice Jones-Drew signed a 5 year, $30.95 million extension with Jacksonville ($17.5 million guaranteed).

So where does that leave Brown?  In terms of years, I'd like to see 4 years tacked on - keeping him in Miami through the 2013 season, at which time Brown would be 32 years old.  Throw $25 to $27 million at him and over those four years and let Ronnie run wild in Miami for as long as his powerful legs will allow.

While we're all excited to know that training camp will begin in less than two weeks, that also means the Dolphins have some serious work to do.  They still have four draft picks unsigned - including their top three picks from day one.  But the Dolphins are not alone.  Only two first round draft picks have been signed - Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez.  And only four second round picks are under contract - three of them are Patriots, by the way.

Fifth round pick Chris Clemons is the other unsigned Dolphin.  But with the player picked two spots ahead of him signed as well as the player picked two spots behind him, it should only be a matter of time before Clemons agrees to terms.  The wait for the other three - Vontae Davis, Pat White, and Sean Smith - could be longer.  Nobody around Davis is even rumored to be close to a deal at this point. 

The player picked three spots in front of White, though, has signed.  However, that player was Darius Butler - a cornerback.  With White being a quarterback, you could see his agent hang on a little longer to see how other players drafted around him do before inking a deal with Miami.

Sean Smith might not be that far off.  Smith was the 61st overall pick - or the 4th pick from the end of round two.  The first two players picked in round three are under contract.  So is Sebastian Vollmer, the player picked just three spots ahead of Smith.  So Smith's contract is relatively close to being "slotted" in.

Hopefully, all four of these guys get their deals done before the first practice on August 2.

Like I said in the opening, we're going to be revving things up here in preparation of the beginning of training camp.  Barring any unforeseen events, look for many "training camp primers" to come between now and August 2 as we discuss and debate some of the key storylines that we'll all be watching once camp gets underway.

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