According to multiple media reports, the Miami Dolphins have pulled the transition tag off of defensive end Olivier Vernon, making him a unrestricted free agent. The move gives the Dolphins $12.7 million in salary cap space, while the team loses the ability to match any offer sheet Vernon may have signed in free agency. The signing of free agent defensive end Mario Williams on Tuesday increased the odds that the Dolphins would pull the tag off Vernon.
Vernon being a free agent will also allow him to count in compensatory draft pick calculations for next season.
The Dolphins had been looking to keep Vernon, who led the team with 7.5 sacks last season and became a pass rushing force following a season ending Achilles tear for Cameron Wake. Vernon, the team's third round draft pick in 2012, played all 64 games since entering the league, with 46 starts. He tallied 29 sacks, three forced fumbles, and 188 tackles in four seasons with the Dolphins.
With the expected interest in Vernon, the asking price to re-sign the Miami native became too high for the Dolphins. The transition tag would have given Vernon a $12.7 million salary for one-season. He is expected to exceed $15 million per year in a long term free-agent deal.