The Miami Dolphins emerged from free agency with no Peyton Manning and no Matt Flynn, and now they may have to ponder the possibility of not having their top pass-rusher without giving him a new deal.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports on Twitter that Dolphins DE/OLB Cameron Wake did not show for the open of the team's voluntary offseason workout program:
Dolphins Pro Bowl DE Cameron Wake, seeking new deal, was not present at start of Dolphins' voluntary off season workout program today.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 10, 2012
This is a voluntary program, but the writing is on the wall. Wake wants a new deal that is commensurate with his production as one of the league's best edge rushers. NFL Network's Jason Lacanfora reports that Wake might be absent for "quite some time."
Wake is 30, but Lacanfora cites ProFootballFocus numbers that have him far ahead of the rest of the league in combined pressure, sacks, QB hits and holding penalties drawn. He is a free agent next year, and this certainly signals that they will have a lot of trouble keeping him if they don't get something done soon.
What are the Dolphins options?
Sign Wake to a long-term deal - This is the most obvious option, but the seas could be getting rocky for GM Jeff Ireland after he cut long-time starting safety and captain Yeremiah Bell a week into free agency.
With Mario Williams drawing $50 million guaranteed from the division rival Bills and Eagles DE Trent Cole getting $15 million guaranteed in a recent extension, the Dolphins should be on the hook for at least $20 million guaranteed. Complicating things is the fact that with the switch to a 4-3 base defense, Wake's pay scale goes up. The DE franchise tag number was $1.8 million more than the LB number.
Trade Wake for a first-round pick - With the importance of the pass rush and the number of teams that didn't even get a chance to woo Williams, the Dolphins could find a market for Wake's services. They shouldn't settle for anything less than a first-round pick, but with no elite pass rusher in this draft class and Wake's demonstrated ability to play in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense, they could find a taker.
With the team lacking talent at multiple positions, continuing the rebuilding by transferring the value of Wake to another future cornerstone is a viable option.
Draft a pass rusher at No. 8 - Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill has been assumed to be the pick in the first round, but this could push the Dolphins to draft a pass rusher like South Carolina's Melvin Ingram or North Carolina's Quinton Coples. The team could then have more leverage in negotiations with Wake and help on the way if this is Wake's last year with the team.
A quality companion for Wake was already a priority, but this development could just increase the team's sense of urgency to address that need.