Will They Be Dolphins Again?

When the Dolphins cleaned out their lockers on Monday following a disappointing 2009 season, it was clear that some of the players were leaving the facility for the last time. And the list of players who might not be back in 2010 includes some big names.

LB JASON TAYLOR: The veteran wanted to sign with the Dolphins and nobody else last offseason, but now that his one-year contract has been played out, there's no guarantee his position remains the same. Taylor was totally non-committal after the finale against Pittsburgh, saying the Dolphins needed to sort things out and he needed to do the same. Taylor wasn't used often in passing situations down the stretch, and you just know that didn't sit well with the ultra-competitive Taylor. All things being equal, it's obvious he would prefer playing in Miami, but he might not be willing to bend over backwards to make it happen the way he did in 2009. On the flip side, the Dolphins clearly should want him back because he's still a quality player.

LB JOEY PORTER: Porter almost belongs in the same paragraph as Taylor because the two really are most effective at weakside linebacker, and it might come down to one or the other. Porter is slightly younger than Taylor, but he makes more money at this point and didn't have as good a season in 2009. Porter also didn't endear himself to Tony Sparano in October, leading to his benching for the Tampa Bay game. Porter is under contract for next season, but it really wouldn't be a shock if he was released.

NT JASON FERGUSON: Ferguson's contract is up and he has said he will retire if the Dolphins don't re-sign him. Complicating the issue is the quad injury that cut short his season in November. Ferguson said on Monday he needs to get healthy again before he decided whether he wants to continue playing, but the more he talked, the more it sounded like he does want to play. Considering he still was effective this season, the Dolphins would be smart to re-sign him, while also protecting themselves by getting a better backup than Paul Soliai.

FS GIBRIL WILSON: Signed in the offseason after he was released by Oakland, Wilson was a flop for the Dolphins in 2009 and his base salary jumps next season from $950,000 to $3.85 million. It seems unfathomable that the Dolphins would pay that kind of money after the season he had, especially if there's no cap in 2010 and therefore no cap hit because of an accelerated signing bonus.

ILB AKIN AYODELE: He's a great team player who has a history with Bill Parcells and Co., but the bottom line is he's scheduled to make $3.25 million in 2010 and he really struggled down the stretch. Don't be shocked if he's let go.

CB JASON ALLEN: Allen has developed into a very good special teams player, but are the Dolphins going to want to pay $1.25 million next season for a guy who doesn't contribute on offense or defense?

RB RONNIE BROWN: This one depends clearly on the labor negotiations. Brown becomes an unrestricted free agent if a new CBA is signed before March 1, which at this point appears highly unlikely. Otherwise, Brown's contract has another year to go. If he does hit free agency, it will be interesting to see what kind of interest Brown draws. His ability is unquestionable, but he also has had two major injuries in the last three seasons.

TE ANTHONY FASANO: Coming off a very disappointing season, Fasano will be a free agent this spring. He'll be unrestricted if there's a new CBA and restricted if there isn't. He made it clear Monday he wants to test the free agent market, but it's debatable how much interest he'll draw because he's just not a top-flight player. It's hard to envision the Dolphins shelling out big dollars to keep him around because they flat-out need an upgrade at tight end.

WR TED GINN JR.: This has nothing to do with dollars and everything to do with production. Or rather lack thereof. Ginn has been a major disappointment and the Dolphins eventually will reach a point where they're not going to wait any longer. Another major issue is that Ginn is exactly the opposite of the type of player the Dolphins like because they want tough, aggressive guys. This one might be one of the most interesting to watch.

QB CHAD PENNINGTON: Let's not forget about Pennington, even though he was lost for the season way back in September. He'll become a free agent in the spring and all indications are that he indeed wants to continue playing. It's impossible to imagine the Dolphins not going with Chad Henne at quarterback from the very start in 2010, which means Pennington would have to come back to the Dolphins as a backup — assuming the team wants him to return in the first place. It could get tricky from Miami's standpoint because while Pennington would be a great help for Henne, his presence might also make him feel like he needs to look over his shoulder. As for Pennington, the competitor in him probably wants to start again so he can go for a third Comeback Player of the Year award. Given the state of the quarterbacking in the NFL, it's hard to believe that there isn't a team that could use him. Combine those factors, and you have to think that Pennington has played his last down with the Dolphins.


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