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Have the Dolphins made a mess of the Jason Taylor situation?

Unless you've been living under a rock the past the past 12 hours, you know that free agent linebacker and Dolphin legend Jason Taylor is making a free agency visit to New York to meet with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.

And like most of you, I've had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach all day since learning of these developments.

But how did we get here? How is it that a legendary Dolphin who wants to remain in Miami is visiting a hated rival? How is it that a South Florida icon who happens to also play a position that is a major team need feels the need to visit a team that he has publicly said he hates in the past?

It's simple - the Dolphins have made a mess of this situation. And whatever you do, do not blame Jason for this. The man wants to be in Miami. He loves this team and this community. But for some reason, the Dolphins don't see re-signing Taylor as an important issue at this time. That, my friends, is a shame.

Of course, Taylor's visit to New York could be just a ploy to put some pressure on the Dolphins. But since NFL rules mandate that the Jets could only offer Taylor roughly $1.5 million as a 2010 salary because of the "final four" restrictions placed on the Jets in an uncapped season, the Dolphins will have every opportunity to match the offer that the Jets make.

That is, if the Dolphins want him.

That's the ultimate question and that's what I simply can't understand. Even if the Dolphins draft an outside linebacker early in the draft, is some combination of a rookie, Cameron Wake, and Charlie Anderson really a safe bet? Is that how you want to head into the 2010 season? Or would you rather have a combination of the players I just mentioned along with Jason Taylor - a player who is clearly a locker room leader and remains productive despite his age?

The Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde has an excellent article on this situation. In that article, this little piece of information is included:

But, again, this is the middle of negotiating, so you have to let this play out. And let's clear up something that keeps bubbling to the surface as negotiations turn public. The Dolphins know what kind of money Taylor wants. And Taylor knows the Dolphins don't want to pay it, effectively telling him to go out and find it in the marketplace.

So there's contact here, no matter what seems to be floated out there. This attempt to turn things into a lack of respect, or not returning phone calls, is nonsense. Taylor has been in touch with coach Tony Sparano. Wichard and General Manager Jeff Ireland know where the other stands. There's no breath of faith or respect at work here. It's just business being conducted as usual.

This is about a contract negotiation. Nothing more. The Dolphins think they have an ace in the hole by feeling assured Taylor will call them with any offer before signing elsewhere. And Taylor feels assured the Dolphins will decide on him at that point.

Hopefully Hyde is right. And hopefully the Dolphins realize that this team will be better off with Jason than without him. But this has been a risky way to handle this situation.

Understand this. The entire mess is squarely on the shoulders of the Dolphins. All Taylor is doing is what anyone looking for a job will do.

And if Taylor does end up in, heaven forbid, a Jets' jersey in 2010, I just hope this front office is ready to accept the backlash from us loyal Dolphin fans.