Good move to play hardball

The Kansas City Chiefs reportedly have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract for cornerback Patrick Surtain, but there is one important step remaining before a trade can be consummated with the Dolphins, that being the compensation Miami would receive. And until now neither side has appeared willing to budge.

The Dolphins' asking price for Surtain all along has been thought to be a second-round draft choice, while Kansas City is said to be offering nothing more than a fourth-round pick.

If that indeed is the case, then Nick Saban is making the right move by holding on to Surtain.

The Dolphins wouldn't mind trading Surtain -- purely for cap reasons -- but they don't necessarily have to do anything.

The Chiefs, on the other hand, badly need cornerback help and they certainly won't do better than Surtain, not even with the 15th overall pick in this year's draft.

Kansas City was interested in former New England starter Ty Law, but he won't be totally healthy for another couple of months.

So at this point, it appears that Kansas City's need for Surtain is more pronounced than the Dolphins' need to unload the Pro Bowl cornerback.

Ideally, we'd like to see the Dolphins hang on to Surtain because he's clearly the best cornerback on the team, even though Sam Madison might have had a better 2004 season.

Without Surtain, the Dolphins would be left with Madison, 2004 free agent acquisition Reggie Howard, promising youngster Will Poole and recent acquisition Mario Edwards, who is coming off a difficult season.

But it's hard to faul the Dolphins for being willing to trade Surtain because he's asking for an awful lot of money -- Kansas City reportedly is ready to give him a $12 million signing bonus -- and the value of cornerbacks has gone down a little because of the new rules penalizing down-the-field contact.

A fourth-round pick for Surtain, though, doesn't cut it. Given Surtain's ability, a second-round pick is fair.

Perhaps, as has been suggested, the teams can work out a deal where Kansas City gives Miami its fourth-round pick this year in addition to a conditional choice in 2006 based on Surtain's playing time and/or performance next season.

That would make more sense than simply giving away Surtain. That's something Saban has said he will not do. It's also something he should not do.

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