The transition tag value for defensive ends is set at $12.7 million for the 2016 season, per the NFL Players Association. The transition tag designation means that other teams can still negotiate with Vernon and come to terms on a contract, though the Dolphins have the right to match that offer and retain the defensive end.
However, if the Dolphins do not match the offer and Vernon signs with a new team, the Dolphins won't receive any compensation, per Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.
According to Mike Garafolo of FoxSports.com, the Dolphins offered Vernon about $12 million per year before ultimately settling on the transition tag.
Vernon, 25, finished the 2015 season with 61 tackles and 7.5 sacks. He's developed into a solid pass-rusher, notching 25.5 sacks in the past three years. His durability is also a huge plus, as he's yet to miss a game in his four-year career.
Not surprisingly, then, Vernon hit the offseason as one of the most prized free agents available. According to David Aitken of Pro Football Focus, Vernon was the third-best unrestricted free agent in the 2016 class, behind only wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and outside linebacker Von Miller.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com was a bit more conservative in his ranking, listing him as the No. 9 unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Regardless, it is clear the Dolphins want him back. Paired with Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, Vernon gives the team one of the top defensive lines in the NFL, a key factor as the team looks to unseat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC East next season.