For the first real weekend of the NFL offseason, there was a lot going on this weekend regarding the Dolphins and various rumors and reports. So let's touch on some of them.
Final thoughts on the Porter fiasco...for now
On Friday we learned that the Dolphins had released disgruntled OLB Joey Porter - only to later learn that Porter's release was invalid and that Porter would revert back to the Dolphins. The issue, as we found out, had to do with the accelerated cap hit that the Dolphins would have taken by releasing Porter under the current CBA. The Dolphins would have had to take a $4.8 million cap hit that was the amount of prorated signing bonus that was left on Porter's current deal. The problem was that the Dolphins didn't have that much cap space. Of course, with no new CBA met, the 2010 season is uncapped. But that doesn't happen until March 5 - the beginning of the new "league year." That's when the Dolphins will be able to officially dump Porter.
Of course, the Dolphins could create the needed cap space by releasing other players and then could release Joey. They also could hold onto Porter and attempt to trade him. We learned from this mess that Joey's $1 million roster bonus isn't actually due until the 5th day of the new "league year" - meaning March 10. But the trading and free agency period begins March 5. However, now that the entire NFL knows the Dolphins plan to release Joey, why would a team even think of offering a late round pick for the aging linebacker?
What bothers me, though, about this whole mess is how the Dolphins come off looking. There's no doubt that team officials around the league were laughing at Miami's gaffe on Friday. And the team's new "capologist" - Dawn Aponte - better get her crap together. I don't think the trifecta will stand for another mistake like that again.
Regardless of how this ends, though, Porter won't be in a Dolphins' uniform in 2010. Owner Stephen Ross publicly stated how unhappy he was with Porter this past weekend, saying it "was uncalled for." Ross added his own "slap" of Porter:
"I think he was worried about getting dropped and wanted to think it was him (provoking a move) as opposed to the team."
Allow me to translate the owner's words: Porter knew the Dolphins were going to dump him so he made some noise to make it seem like he was dumping them, as opposed to the reality, which was that the Dolphins were going to release Joey regardless of the public hissy-fits he threw.
Get ready for a real cornerback competition
Heading into the 2009 season, Will Allen was the only cornerback we knew would be starting on opening day. Rookies Vontae Davis and Sean Smith were expected to battle with some veterans to start on the other side. Smith won that battle and started all 16 regular season games. Allen went down with a torn ACL in week 7, though, and Davis replaced Allen as the starter and played well - despite some struggles along the way.
Well now Will Allen, who is recovering well, has made a bold statement:
"I'm starting. You can put that wherever you want. I've started every year. I don't expect that to change now."
I love his attitude and confidence and I don't blame him at all for wanting to start. After all, he was the team's best corner before tearing his ACL last year. He had a 55.6% success rate in 2009 (7th in the NFL among qualifying corners) and a 51.3% success rate in 2008 (18th in NFL). Clearly, if he's healthy, he's a very good - if under-appreciated - cornerback.
But at this stage, wouldn't it be best to let the two young corners start in 2010? Probably. And I expect that to be the case, assuming neither Smith or Davis struggle at all in camp and/or the preseason. This makes me wonder, though. Would Allen be a problem if he doesn't win a starting job in '10? I wouldn't think so - as he's been a true professional since he's been here and has been a real mentor for the young corners.
But then again - being reduced to the nickel corner after being an NFL starter since his rookie year in 2001 can change a player's personality in a hurry. Hopefully this is a non-issue next year. But you never know...
Ronnie is ahead of schedule
For the second time in three offseasons, Ronnie Brown is rehabbing a serious season-ending injury. In 2008, Brown came back strong after tearing his ACL. And yet again, it seems as though Brown is recovering well and "ahead of schedule" as he rehabs from his Lisfranc fracture. Though he might not be ready for the start of OTAs, Ronnie's goal remains to be ready for camp:
"I know I want to be in training camp. I think that's a goal that's very, very attainable."
The injury itself is a serious one - but one that you can definitely bounce back string from. That's what Ronnie has found out after talking to some players (Warrick Dunn, Justin Tuck, Will Allen, for example) who have gone through the same injury and same rehab process:
"There's a big list of guys that have had it. They say once you heal up, everything is fine. You don't want to push it too hard, but at the same time you want to push it enough to make sure you're doing everything that will make it heal up."
I'm interested in seeing how the Dolphins handle the running back situation this offseason. Ricky Williams is aging and, as of now, is committed to only one more season. Patrick Cobbs is recovering from a torn ACL. And Lex Hilliard is nothing more than a complementary running back. So will the Dolphins look to address the position in the draft? We know there's a rather large C.J. Spiller bandwagon that's rolling along full steam ahead and gathering Dolphin fans as we speak.
Regardless of how this plays out, Ronnie said he hopes to remain a Dolphin for a long time:
"If it was up to me, ultimately I want to be here. think I've established a foundation here and I'd love to be here for the rest of my career. Unfortunately, sometimes there are decisions that have to be made."