After waiting around patiently while the Miami Dolphins freely spent gobs of cash this spring, safety Reshad Jones is now justified in accelerating his own payday by skipping the start of organized team activities (OTAs).
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Jones was absent for Monday's workout, which served as a conditioning session in advance of Tuesday's start to OTAs. Salguero notes that teammates are speculating Jones' absence is directly tied to the "lack of progress" in new contract negotiations.
Jones, a former fifth-round pick in 2010, is entering the last year of his rookie deal in 2013. He'll make just $1.32 million next season, a total that fails to accurately represent the caliber of safety he's become. His remaining one year also lacks the kind of long-term security that players so often covet.
Considering how often general manager Jeff Ireland has signed off on big deals this offseason, it's no wonder why Jones is feeling a little left out monetarily.
Since March, the Dolphins have agreed on deals for receivers Mike Wallace ($60 million, $30 million guaranteed) and Brian Hartline ($30.8M/$12.5M), linebackers Dannell Ellerbe ($35M/$14M) and Philip Wheeler ($26M/$13M), cornerback Brent Grimes ($5.5/$3M) and offensive tackle Tyson Clabo ($3.5M/$1.5M).
According to Salguero, the Dolphins have spent $91 million in guaranteed money and over $200 million in total contract value this offseason. Handing out money has not been a difficulty for Ireland.
Yet an in-house building block like Jones, who played at a Pro Bowl level in 2012, has yet to receive the extension from Miami he deserves.
Last season, Jones finished fourth on the team in tackles with 94 and first in both interceptions (four) and fumble recoveries (two). He was the lone NFL safety with at least 90 tackles, four interceptions and two recoveries in 2012.
Advanced stats favored Jones, too.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Jones graded out as the No. 3 overall safety (plus-22.1) in the NFL last season. Only Eric Weddle and Jairus Byrd received higher grades at the position.
Of the safeties who played 500 or more snaps at the position, Jones allowed the third-best passer rating (38.0) and provided the third-most pressures (13). No other safety combined an opposing passer rating under 60.0 and 10 or more pressures last season.
Clearly a budding star, Jones now has every right to use OTAs as a leverage point in getting a new deal.
The safety can also look back 12 months for an example of another Dolphins star gaining the leverage needed to secure an extension.
In 2012, defensive end Cameron Wake skipped a portion of offseason workouts before Ireland gave him a new long-term deal. Like Jones, Wake was entering the final year of his former deal.
The two sides eventually agreed on a four-year extension.
The structure for Jones' new deal could be found somewhere between agreements from Michael Griffin (five years, $35 million) and Tyvon Branch (four years, $26 million), who both signed contracts in 2012. In 2010, Antoine Bethea signed a four-year, $27 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
A former fifth-round pick with one good year under his belt, Jones could reasonably expect to fetch a similar deal.
Regardless of structure, Jones deserves a new deal from the Dolphins this offseason. Ireland has spent more than any other NFL general manager over the last three months, but he's failed to lock up one of his in-house stars.
Skipping a portion of OTAs doesn't change that fact, but it does accelerate the discussion process on Jones' well-deserved extension.