The Take on Taylor

The Dolphins front office's single focus continues to be building a championship team in Miami and it's not particularly concerned with public relations. That's a good thing because the Jason Taylor situation has gotten messy and could get messier. But public relations aside, are the Dolphins taking the right approach when it comes to the veteran outside linebacker?

GM Jeff Ireland said Thursday the Dolphins have told Taylor and his agent, Gary Wichard, that they have to "evaluate things after the draft."

That seems to suggest the Dolphins will only try to re-sign Taylor if they can't find anyone in the draft.

We can't help but flash back to last April when Ireland said that when it came to veteran players you always had to evaluate whether they were "progress stoppers" for younger players.

Is this the same rationale at play this year? If that's the case, then why was 35-year-old nose tackle Jason Ferguson re-signed ... AFTER he was suspended for the first eight games of the 2010 season?

Wouldn't Ferguson's return to the lineup hinder the progress of Paul Soliai, a young nose tackle with the potential to become an important player for the Dolphins in the next few years?

The truth is re-signing Ferguson was a prudent move because he provides insurance in case the Dolphins have problems at nose tackle in the first half of the season. As the 2009 season ended, there clearly was nobody better on the roster at nose tackle than Ferguson.

We would make the same argument about Taylor when it comes to the outside linebackers currently on the roster.

After the release of veteran Joey Porter, the outside linebackers on the Dolphins roster currently include Charlie Anderson, Quentin Moses, Erik Walden, Cameron Wake and newcomer Brian Johnston, who is listed as a defensive end but at 269 pounds doesn't have the size to play that position in a 3-4.

Free agent prize Karlos Dansby also is versatile enough to line up outside if need be, but Ireland said he was signed to play inside linebacker.

Would anyone argue the fact that Taylor is a better player than Anderson, Moses, Walden, Wake or Johnson? It's not even close, really.

Wake has tremendous pass-rushing potential, but his all-around game needs work. Taylor, meanwhile, had seven sacks last season despite playing strongside linebacker, despite coming off the field in passing situations late in the season, and despite fighting a shoulder injury in the final weeks of 2009.

Even if the Dolphins draft one, even two outside linebackers in a couple of weeks, Taylor still should be good enough to make the team.

And that's not even addressing the leadership issue. With Porter gone, the Dolphins don't have a player in the defensive front seven who is at least 30 outside of Ferguson. Taylor is a respected leader who was a team captain last year.

Because he really wants to keep playing in Miami, Taylor probably would accept a contract with little upfront or guaranteed money, so why aren't the Dolphins just extending him that kind of offer instead of making him wait around?

It's not a move that shows a lot of respect for a guy who was the face of the franchise for so many years and who took a way-below-market-value deal last year to come home.

Taylor really couldn't be blamed if he turned his back on the Dolphins and decided to sign with the Jets, who have rolled out the red — or is it green? — carpet and gone out of their way to show Taylor how much they want him.

If that were to happen, the Dolphins would lose in a couple of ways. It would be a really bad P.R. move, one that would anger more than a few fans. It also would take away a still-productive player from a team that doesn't have enough of those and put him on a team that was one victory away from the Super Bowl last season.

Quite frankly, it's really difficult to understand the Dolphins' stance on this one.


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