As expected, a fair share of the fan feedback surrounding the Miami Dolphins' release of Zach Thomas was negative. Never mind the fact that Thomas harbors no ill will toward the organization, or that his release is just another in the long line of roster moves that involve aging icons who no longer fit the franchise's long-term strategy. Some fans simply can't stand to see a beloved piece of team lore chucked into the free-agent bin.
Well, I've got news for those of you who fall into that category of fandom: Get ready for a double-dose of that nasty feeling you got last Thursday.
Chances are that Thomas' longtime cohort, defensive end Jason Taylor, could very well suffer a similar fate in the not-so-distant future. For the time being, Taylor is still a productive member of the team. His age and cap number make him a prime candidate for jettisoning.
In a perfect world, Taylor would play out the rest of his career in Miami, retiring with the pomp and circumstance similar to that of Dan Marino; however, the reality is that this aging legend will likely meet a much less ideal exit from the South Florida spotlight.
It might come prior to the start of 2008 regular season.
Taylor could transition nicely into a pass-rushing linebacker role in coordinator Paul Pasqualoni's 3-4 defense, but fresh off yet another Pro-Bowl campaign and set to turn 34 just prior to next season, his trade value is likely as high as it's going to be. With Bill Parcells & Co. angling to build up a solid repository of draft picks that fit the new system being implemented, it would appear that Taylor could prove more valuable as trade bait than defensive stalwart. Besides, the Dolphins already have a high-priced and proven pass-rushing linebacker in Joey Porter.
But let's assume for argument's sake that Taylor stays put in Miami during the 2008 season. What then? And worse yet, what if he suffers through an injury-plagued season or otherwise experiences a noticeable drop-off in production?
All of a sudden, Miami would find itself in possession of a 35-year-old defender who is a not a prototypical 3-4 linebacker, on the downside of his career and sporting a hefty cap number. Sound familiar?
Yes, I know that these doom-and-gloom scenarios are little more than uninformed conjecture. For all we know, Taylor could produce another MVP-caliber campaign in 2008 and go on to engineer a Super Bowl joy ride during the twilight of his career the way his Giants counterpart, Michael Strahan, did this past season.
That would be a fantastic end to Jason Taylor's prolific career, but don't be surprised if it doesn't go that way at all. And don't get too upset if this final tie to a bygone era of Dolphins football meets the same unceremonious end as that of his brother from another mother.
After all, you can still look forward to seeing these two brothers in arms enter the Dolphins' Ring of Honor - and possibly the Hall of Fame - together. Isn't that what really counts in the end?
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