NFL Player Spotlight: Miami Dolphins DE Jason Taylor

Roy DanielContributor IOctober 7, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Jason Taylor #99 of the Miami Dolphins against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 13, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Each week, I will spotlight a specific player either on offense or defense.  While it is great to follow or be a fan of a specific team, it is also important to know a little history about those players that are part of OUR team.  Without further ado, let’s learn a little bit about the Dolphins' DE, Jason Taylor.

Jason Paul Taylor was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 1, 1974.  Taylor was home-schooled during his sophomore – senior years, but he participated in athletics at Woodland Hills High School.

Taylor played both Football and Basketball in High School and he won the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League honors at both TE and FS.  However, he was not highly recruited out of high school and began his college career at Akron University.

Taylor majored in political science and criminal justice. In addition to playing football, he also was a starter for the basketball team.

During his junior year, he moved to weak side linebacker and was selected as First-Team All Mid-American Conference. During his senior season, he moved to his current position, defensive end. Once again, he was selected as First-Team All Mid-American Conference.    

Taylor finished his collegiate career with 279 tackles, 21 sacks, seven fumble recoveries, and three interceptions. While these stats are not record breaking, remember that he did not start playing solid football until his junior and senior season. 

Taylor was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the third Round (73rd pick overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft.  He became a starter in his rookie season and recorded five sacks and forced two fumbles. 

During the following two seasons, Taylor recorded 11.5 sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles.

On April 15, 2000, Taylor, a restricted free agent, received a one-year contract extension for $1.027 million. Taylor responded with 73 tackles, 14.5 sacks, one interception, and two forced fumbles.  As a result of his solid performance, he was rewarded with his first selection to the Pro Bowl.

The following season, he signed a six-year, $42 million contract to remain with the Dolphins and was designated their franchise player. Taylor responded with 71 tackles (seven for a loss), 8.5 sacks, one interception, and forced four fumbles. 

In 2002, he led the NFL and tied the Dolphins team record with 18.5 sacks. He also had 70 tackles and eight forced fumbles. He was an obvious selection to the Pro Bowl. The next season (2003), Taylor followed up his Pro Bowl performance with a 13 sacks.

On March 1, 2004, in an effort to create more salary cap space, the Dolphins agreed to a three-year contract extension with Taylor. The extension put Taylor under contract through the 2009 season.  The new deal was worth $45 million, including nearly $10 million guaranteed in 2004.

Taylor enjoyed the best year of his career in 2006 when he recorded 13.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and two interceptions (both of which were returned for touchdowns).  His solid play earned him NFL Defensive Player of the Year.  He was also a consensus All-Pro for the second time.

In 2007, Taylor reached double-digits in sacks for the sixth time in his career and picked off another pass. He was also voted to the All-time Miami Dolphins team, which is selected by the fans. 

Prior to the 2008 season, the Dolphins talked to numerous teams with an interest to trade Taylor, however, the asking price was far too high.  As a result, Taylor skipped the voluntary off-season workouts. Shortly thereafter, the Dolphins stated that they wanted Taylor back for the 2008 season.  However, action speaks louder than words. 

On July 20, 2008, Taylor was traded to the Washington Redskins for a second-round pick in 2009 and a sixth-round pick in 2010.  Taylor had an up and down season and battled a calf injury which caused him to miss several games in Washington.

On March 2, 2009, Taylor was released by the Redskins for refusing to participate in off-season conditioning programs. Taylor claimed he wanted to be closer to his family in Florida.  He got his wish as he was released by the Redskins and signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins for $1.1 million with $400,000 in incentives.

Taylor has won numerous awards throughout his career, including the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award and the 2007 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.  Taylor is a six-time Pro Bowl selection (2000, 2002, 2004-2007), a four-time first or second team All-Pro (2000-2002, 2006), a two time NFL Alumni Association Defensive Lineman of the Year (2005, 2006), and the NFL Alumni Association Pass Rusher of the Year (2000).

Taylor has also won numerous team awards, including the Dolphins Newcomer of the Year Award (1997), the Dan Marino Team MVP Award (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006), and the Don Shula Team Leadership Award twice (2002, 2006).

He currently has 702 tackles, 123.5 sacks, seven interceptions, and 41 forced fumbles (recovered 26) for his career.  Five of his fumble recoveries were returned for touchdowns, which is an NFL record shared with former Atlanta Falcon Jessie Toggle.  He also has eight career defensive TDs and is the all-time leader in defensive touchdowns scored by a defensive lineman. 

Needless to say, if Jason Taylor were to retire tomorrow, he would have an NFL career to be proud of.  I also believe that his solid performance over 12 years should get him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, I do not expect him to retire this season as he has a lot sacks left in the tank.


Stay tuned, as I will spotlight running back Ronnie Brown next week.