Unfinished Business

The Dolphins are trying to resolve the status of defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who isn't happy GM Rick Spielman said his situation had been on the backburner. Given that the Dolphins still own his rights, Ogunleye doesn't have a lot of leverage, but can the Bears still find a way to get a deal done?

While Spielman recently said it's not an issue that needs to be addressed immediately, it will have to be addressed.

As a player with three accrued NFL seasons, Ogunleye is a restricted free agent, and the Dolphins secured their rights to him by extending a tender of $1.852 million.

That was the highest tender possible for Ogunleye, and it gave the Dolphins the right to match any offer sheet Ogunleye signs or receive as compensation first- and third-round picks.

Teams have until April 16 to sign Ogunleye to an offer sheet. After that, he can negotiate only with the Dolphins.

Of course, another option is for the Dolphins to sign Ogunleye and then trade him to the highest bidder.

It has been reported that both Chicago and Minnesota are interested in acquiring Ogunleye, but neither is willing to fork over a first-round pick for him.

The Dolphins would prefer keeping Ogunleye, but certainly would consider trading him if they can get enough in return. In the Dolphins minds enough has to start with a first-round pick.

Ogunleye led the AFC with 15 sacks last season, which are 3 more than the entire Bears defensive line.

Re-signing Ogunleye to a long-term won't be easy or cheap. Jason Taylor, who plays opposite Ogunleye and simply is a better player, already makes big money. So do Zach Thomas, Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison.

So at some point the Dolphins will have to decide what players to pay, otherwise they will have salary cap problems down the road.

Miami has the luxury of depth at defensive end, with the likes of Jay Williams, David Bowens and promising youngster Otis Grigsby. But Ogunleye is a proven pass-rushing commodity, and the Dolphins are likely to hang on to him, unless they get blown away by a trade offer.

Ogunleye has said he will not play for the one-year tender. However his problem is he really has no leverage other than to sit out until midway through the season, then come in to finish off the season and get himself another accrued season to become an unrestricted free agent next spring.

Jason Klabacha contributed to this report.


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