From the point of public perception, its been a rough offseason for the Miami Dolphins.
From swinging and missing on various attempts to upgrade their quarterback position, whether it was failing to land Peyton Manning, team up their new head coach Joe Philbin with one of his former quarterbacks in Matt Flynn, or reportedly offering $8 million a year to Alex Smith, to fighting the perception that nobody wants to play in Miami (well, except for David Garrard), which led to a rather embarrassing anti-Jeff Ireland "demonstration," lets just say it's been a choppy couple of months for Dolphins PR.
So with the Dolphins able to start their offseason workouts early, due to a provision in the new collective bargaining agreement allowing teams with new head coaches to convene their offseason programs a week prior to the rest of the league, it seemed a perfect opportunity to hit the "reset" button and try to engender a sense of hope and optimism not only for the fanbase, but for the players who have no doubt been catching hell from their NFL brethren about having to play for a seemingly always-bumbling organization.
So much for that.
As NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora reported earlier today, linebacker Cameron Wake, easily the teams best pass rusher, was not in attendance for the start of Philbin's "voluntary" offseason workout program.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported shortly thereafter that the Dolphins can expect the fourth year veteran to stay away until he has a new deal. Wake, who originally went undrafted in 2005 and played in the CFL prior to signing with the Dolphins in 2009, is 30 years old and has led the team with 32 sacks since joining the team. He is entering the final year of a four-year deal and is scheduled to make a base salary of $615,000 in 2012.
Obviously, Wake is grossly underpaid when you compare his salary to the other top pass rushers in the league. (Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who Pro Football Focus actually has rated one spot higher in their pass rushing productivity ratings for 3-4 outside linebackers, is scheduled to make $4.5 million in 2012.)
Wake is using the leverage he has, withholding his services. The Dolphins can probably afford to wait this one out for awhile, but they are no doubt aware that yet another negative headline about their program won't play well with the locals.
Ireland would do well to get this resolved sooner rather than later. Wake is one of his best players and should be a cornerstone for new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. While missing a little time probably won't hurt him, missing the entire defensive install is probably not the best way to go about integrating your best defensive player into your defense.