Dolphins Decision: The Jason Taylor Situation

The Dolphins' new regime faces some major decisions in the 2008 offseason and one of them will be deciding whether to trade defensive end Jason Taylor to accumulate draft picks or keep him to build the defense around him even though his most productive days might be over by the time the team is ready to compete again. Scout.com's Senior NFL Reporter, Adam Caplan, shares his thoughts on the issue.

The folllowing is an e-mail exchange between DolphinDigest.com Editor Alain Poupart and Scout.com Senior NFL Reporter Adam Caplan. The subject: What to do with Jason Taylor.

Alain Poupart: Jason Taylor, along with Zach Thomas, has been the face of the Dolphins for a decade. But what once might have been considered blasphemy now has to be viewed as a distinct possibility: Are the Dolphins going to trade Jason Taylor? Taylor is under contract for the next two easons and he remains one of the best defensive players in the league, but he'll be 34 at the start of the 2008 season and only has so much good football left. By the time the Dolphins are ready to contend again, it's questionable whether Taylor still will be a difference-maker. That's why the thought of trading him while he still has market value has been brought up. For his part, Taylor sounded after the 2007 season finale like someone who might not object to the idea even though he has a lot of ties to South Florida.

Adam Caplan: The veteran end has high salaries coming in his final two seasons ($7.5 million-2008 and $8 million in 2009) so that's a hefty price to pay for a team that likely will be looking to start over next season. But Taylor has proven over the last few seasons that he can play in different schemes (4-3, 3-4 outside linebacker) while still being effective. He certainly looks to have something left in the tank and is about as durable as any end in the league. So there should be teams that would be interested if he's put on the trading block. However, he would likely have to agreed to restructure the final two years of his contract or agree to a new one that's back loaded in order for a team to agree to make a deal for him.

It's a little early to guess who would want to acquire him but because of his age (we'll get a better idea as we get closer to the start of free agency in March), you're probably looking at a conditional third or fourth round pick based on playing time (typical parameters in trades).

Alain Poupart: If all the Dolphins can get for Taylor is a third or fourth, then Bill Parcells might decide it's not worth making the move. That's based on his comments on his last night of work with ESPN when he said that the plan was to get as many good players as possible, adding that Jason Taylor had been a very good player for the Dolphins. But, again, how quickly can the Dolphins realistically expect to contend?

Adam Caplan: Three years. Problems at QB, RB with Ronnie Brown's injury, receiver, tight end, LB, secondary have to be addressed.

Alain Poupart: Look at that roster. Ugh! There are holes to fill everywhere, starting with the all-important quarterback position. Can the Dolphins possibly become playoff contenders before Taylor's play starts to decline?

Adam Caplan: Can't see it as noted above.

Alain Poupart: So, in closing, what percentage would you put on the likelihood of Taylor being traded this offseason as Parcells looks to start the rebuilding process?

Adam Caplan: Forty percent at this point.

Alain Poupart: I'm figuring that sounds about right. In an ideal world, somebody jumps up and gives the Dolphins a first- or second-round pick for Taylor, but it's tough to see that happening. And sometimes, the best trades you make are those you don't make. Like Parcells said, you can't have enough good players, and Jason Taylor most definitely is a good player.


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him every day, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.