I took a week off from writing for the site, which meant our “Re-sign, tag, walk” series took a week off from the site as well. As we close in on the start of free agency, we pick the series back up now, with five players left to discuss.
This series breaks down each of the potential free agents coming from the Miami Dolphins’ roster, allowing you the opportunity to decide whether the team should bring back the player, tag him in order to make sure no one else signs him, or allow him to leave for a new club.
And, yes, I know the deadline to franchise tag a player passed while I was not around, but I am leaving it as an option to see what you would have done as the Dolphins’ GM.
Today, we pick up the series with one of the two restricted free agents we still have to cover. Restricted free agents are players the Dolphins can add compensation requirements from other teams should the player sign with a new team. This is done through placing a qualifying tender on the player.
Tenders are guaranteed one-year contracts, but are relatively low-salaried amounts for the season. Basically, restricted free agents are able to move to a new club like an unrestricted free agent, but there is compensation that may restrict a new club from making an offer.
NFL free agency begins at 4pm ET on March 9. Anyone who is not under contract for the 2017 season will be able to begin signing with new teams - barring any restricted free agent tenders that have been placed on players with less than four years of service time in the league. Over the next few weeks, teams all across the league will be trying to re-sign their own players to new contracts in an effort to prevent players they want to keep from testing the open market.
The Dolphins have 20 players about whom they need to make decisions. We have been asking you as fans of the team to provide your thoughts on what the Dolphins should do for each of their upcoming free agents. We break down the history of the player, what they did for the team in 2016, the terms of their expiring contract, the estimated value for the franchise tag, and then as you to vote on the decision the team should make.
The amounts for each tender have not been released for 2017, but the 2016 values were set at $3.6 million for the first-round, $2.6 million for the second-round, and $1.7 million for the lowest tender.
Our series now moves to tight end Dominique Jones.
Jones’ trip to the NFL was not as straight forward as some undrafted free agents. Coming out of Shepard University in 2011, Jones first played for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League, then joined the Reading Express of the Indoor Football League in 2012 before signing with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, playing in four games, but also having stints that season on the Colts and the Dolphins practice squads. He again started the season with the Colts the next year, but was released mid-season, then signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a practice squad player before being promoted to the active roster; he appeared in six games for the Colts and two for the Chiefs in 2013. After a preseason stint with the Buffalo Bills in 2014, Jones spent time with the Denver Broncos practice squad, with one game appearance, the rest of that year. The 2015 season was spent on the practice squads of the Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, and Minnesota Vikings.
Miami signed Jones to a reserve/futures contract after the 2015 season, adding him to the roster once the 2016 league year began. The Dolphins released Jones at the end of the preseason, but then re-signed him in October as the team looked for tight end depth options following a concussion to Jordan Cameron. Jones played in nine games for Miami this past season, including two starts, recording seven receptions for 61 yards with his first career touchdown.
Jones’ expiring contract is a one-year, $600,000 contract (via overthecap.com). The salary cap number was prorated to $516,176 for the year.
The franchise tag is not a reasonable option for a restricted free agent.
The Phinsider thoughts
Jones proved to be a solid depth option for the Dolphins in 2016, and he did make some plays when the team needed it. The trade Miami will make this week to bring Julius Thomas to the club, while repeatedly saying they want to re-sign Dion Sims, could push Jones’ out of a roster spot. A restricted free agent tender is fully guaranteed, so Miami may not want to tie up over a million dollars into a Jones, unless they are sure he is going to make the roster. Miami also has MarQueis Gray, who took over as the number two tight end this season behind Sims once Jordan was injured, as well as a reserve/futures signing in Chris Pantale. The team could also keep exclusive rights free agent Thomas Duarte, so Jones may be allowed to hit free agency as an unrestricted free agent, then Miami look to re-sign him to a non-guaranteed contract.
What should the Dolphins do with Jones? Vote below and feel free to discuss in the comments.