Two Veterans Return

In two surprising moves -- but surprising for different reasons -- the Dolphins have brought back two of their four team captains from last year, quarterback Chad Pennington and nose tackle Jason Ferguson. Pennington officially re-signed with the Dolphins on Monday, while Ferguson followed suit Tuesday.

Ferguson's return can be considered surprising because he's facing an eight-game suspension at the start of the 2010 season. Given the fact that Ferguson is coming off a season-ending quad injury and is 35 years old, there was a school of thought that the suspension might push him toward retirement.

The nose tackle will be allowed to do everything with the Dolphins until the start of the regular season, at which point he won't be allowed with the team until after the eighth game.

His re-signing really shouldn't affect the team's pursuit of a nose tackle to serve as his successor.

As for Pennington, his return can be considered surprising because he very well might have been able to land himself a starting job in free agency had he chosen to pursue that.

Published reports suggest his contract calls for a $2.5 million base salary with an additional $1.5 million coming his way if the Dolphins decide to trade him. Here's where it gets interesting: The Miami Herald also is reporting that the contract contains incentives that could push the contract up to as much as $5.75 million if he beats out Chad Henne for the starting job.

Henne unquestionably will go into training camp as the starter, and it's only because of Pennington's team-first attitude that his return is possible. If nothing else, he again will serve as a tremendous mentor for Henne while continue his recovery from the shoulder injury that cut his 2009 season.

With Pennington and Ferguson re-signing and cornerback Nate Jones having left to sign with Denver, it leaves only one unrestricted free agent who played last season with the Dolphins.

That would be Jason Taylor, and we wouldn't expect his situation to be resolved anytime soon. Then again, we didn't expect both Pennington and Ferguson to re-sign with the Dolphins.

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