TALKING TRADE

Because of the unsigned status of Adewale Ogunleye and the Dolphins' obvious needs at running back and wide receiver, it only figures that there would be plenty of talk about possible trade scenarios. But while everybody would love to see the Dolphins get a stud offensive player, it's not quite that simple.

That's because teams don't generally want to give up on big-time playmakers. That certainly was the case with the Colts, who said, sorry, we're not trading Edgerrin James.

The rumor started because he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season and because the Colts could use a stud pass rusher like Ogunleye.

But Indy wants to make a run at the Super Bowl this year, and the reason they're legitimate contenders is an offense that features the explosive trio of Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and James.

Yes, the Colts probably will lose James for nothing in the offseason, but they're taking their shot this year and their backup running backs -- Dominic Rhodes and James Mungro -- aren't nearly as good as James.

We can tell you the Dolphins have talked to the Cleveland Browns about a trade, but the Browns refused to part with wide receiver Andre Davis, offering Quincy Morgan instead.

Well, Morgan isn't that much of an upgrade over what the Dolphins already have, so that makes no sense.

There also is word that the Dolphins are interested in making a trade for Browns third-string running back James Jackson.

To that, we say, why?

The guy has a career average of 3.2 and he isn't any better than either Travis Minor or Sammy Morris.

Keep in mind, the Dolphins wouldn't trade Ogunleye for him, but even wasting a draft pick on this guy doesn't make much sense from this vantage point.

If the Dolphins are to acquire a big-time offensive player, and that's still the hope, they have only two players with contract situations that make them tradable.

One, obviously, is Ogunleye, although other teams might be wary of trading for a guy looking for a big contract.

The other is Patrick Surtain, who is signed through 2005 and has a reasonable cap number.

But we say, emphatically, do not trade Surtain. He is one of the top five players at his position and trading would just create another hole.

Besides, any hope the Dolphins have this year, regardless of whether they make a trade, is to win with dominating defense.

They can still have that without Ogunleye. Not without Surtain.

Which brings us back to Ogunleye. One problem with getting great value in a trade -- and, believe us, the Dolphins are trying -- is that Ogunleye is viewed as a very good, but not great, player.

That's why the Dolphins don't want to give him a huge contract and that's why they can't get a stud offensive player in return in a trade.

And it's true. Ogunleye may have been the Dolphins' team MVP last season, but the South Florida media missed the boat because it was Jason Taylor who was the team's most important player. And clearly.

How many times did you see Ogunleye get a sack last year after Taylor had flushed the quarterback out of the pocket? OK, now, how many times did it happen the other way around?

This is not meant as a knock on Ogunleye, who clearly is a quality player, but he might find the sacks a lot tougher to come by without Taylor on the other side to draw the major focus of opposing offenses.

Ogunleye isn't seeing this right now, which is why he's still holding out. Whether he ever sees it remains to be seen.

But we'll tell you this: The Dolphins obviously are better with Ogunleye in the lineup, but they can survive on defense without him.


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