The Miami Dolphins’ Front Office isn’t exactly known for making moves based on sentimental value.
However, they are capable of making them, and it’s fair to say that the decision to let Zach Thomas retire a Dolphin was one.
Now, the Dolphins are being offered the perfect opportunity to make another of these moves, and this one doesn’t just help Jeff Ireland’s public relations machine, it also benefits Miami on the field.
Briefly breaking down the facts, consider the following:
- Miami Dolphins need to sign an outside linebacker who specializes in rushing the passer.
- Jason Taylor is a free agent.
- Nearly all Miami Dolphins fans want, and have always wanted, to see Jason Taylor retire a Phin.
- Jason Taylor loves the Miami Dolphins, and the city of Miami, where he still lives.
- Anybody still not see where this one is heading?
Miami signs Jason Taylor to a one-year contract and allows him to retire a Dolphin next year.
The move almost makes too much sense.
It’s hardly an inconvenience for JT to turn out for the Dolphins, he doesn’t have to up sticks and move again like he did last year. If you add his love for the Miami Dolphins franchise to the equation, it would be difficult for Taylor to turn down an offer from Miami on a personal level.
Taylor has reportedly accepted the fact that he is no longer a starting caliber player in the NFL. However, this doesn’t mean that Taylor believes he is finished in the league.
The likelihood is that he will retire this summer, but if he is given an opportunity to play a few more downs, particularly in aqua and orange, will he be able to turn it down?
Not only does he love the game, but it gives him one final paycheck for doing the thing he loves.
Looking at the situation from the Dolphins’ viewpoint, there is also a very strong case to be made.
Miami need a pass-rusher, and Taylor fits that bill.
After Cameron Wake and Koa Misi, the only other outside linebacker on the roster is Akaika Alama-Francis. Quentin Moses is a free agent. Only Fireman Ed would argue that Taylor isn’t an upgrade over both of these men.
There isn’t much else on offer by way of free agency either, and talent at the position is particularly scarce in this year’s class of free agents.
In addition, Miami isn't looking for a starter in this role; Wake was second in the league in sacks last year, and Misi racked up five sacks in his rookie season. Both will be starters next season. Miami expects Wake to continue his form, and Misi to continue to improve.
Jason Taylor would offer another option for the Dolphins while Misi works on his pass-rush skills. He is a proven veteran, who leads the NFL in sacks for active players.
Furthermore, Taylor could help Misi improve; he could teach him the techniques that have helped Taylor compile 132.5 NFL sacks.
Jason Taylor is a leader. At the very least, he can offer advice to help Misi’s game (and maybe even Wake). At worst, Taylor offers vital leadership abilities to the Dolphins, and helps the Phins out on the field with a few sacks, and a couple of forced fumbles.
Taylor isn’t a spent force. He is not the player he once was, but that is understandable. However, last season he started just five games, and recorded five sacks, one safety, and two forced fumbles.
If he could do that for Miami next year, then the move would benefit the 'Phins.
Even better, Taylor’s contract would hardly break the bank.
Even better than that, is that the move would be highly popular among Dolphins’ fans, who on the whole, still love the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, despite his year playing for Rex Ryan’s vomit-green cheating machine.
The Front Office could do with a bit more support from the fans, and this might be a catalyst for that. If Taylor can then add something on the field, everybody wins.
However, history suggests the move is unlikely, even before you take into account the acrimonious nature of Taylor’s latest departure from Miami.
In addition to the Jets link that Taylor now has, he left following a dispute with former Dolphins’ GM, Bill Parcells, who is a mentor and close friend of current GM, Jeff Ireland.
Furthermore, he is reportedly being trialled as a football analyst on ESPN; his reception so far is very good.
ESPN analysts are paid particularly well too, and this salary would likely eclipse anything he would earn on a football field next year considering his age and slowly deteriorating skills.
Despite this, Taylor’s love for football (and hopefully Miami) might turn his head towards one final year in the NFL.
After all, this would be his final stand on a football field. If he chose ESPN now, there would be no way back into the NFL. If he chooses the NFL, then he will likely have a route into ESPN again next year once he retires.
His problems with Miami’s Front Office could be put in the past too. The ill-feeling that arose was down to Parcells, not Ireland.
Parcells refused to offer Taylor a contract, and as a result of this, and Taylor’s determination to continue playing in the NFL, he joined the one team he had an offer from; unfortunately, this was the New York Jets.
However, with Parcells now gone, Ireland has an opportunity to distance himself from Parcells and offer an olive-branch to Taylor. This could help Miami sign the iconic No. 99, and might also help boost Ireland’s popularity among Dolphans if he distanced himself from the largely-unpopular Parcells.
Tony Sparano is not an issue. He has no problems with Taylor; indeed, it appeared that he would have liked to have kept him last season.
Owner Stephen Ross has no problems either; Taylor is his favorite Dolphins’ player.
The issues between Miami and Taylor can be fixed; there is no question of that. However, Ireland holds the key, and if he takes Parcells side, then a move is out of the question.
Sadly, it is unlikely that Taylor returns. He said himself that his bridges were burned with Miami last season, and even if Miami can rebuild them, the Dolphins would probably prefer to look for younger alternatives.
On a footballing level, the move does still make a lot of sense; on a personal level, only Taylor and Ireland know the answer.
Is there any hope for Dolphins’ fans harbouring dreams of the legendary JT returning for Miami?
Well, not many people predicted Jason Taylor returning to Miami after his disastrous stint in Washington, so it may not be wise to rule this out completely.
If egos, money, and personalities can be put to one side, then maybe Dolphans can see No. 99 for one final season.
If Jeff Ireland has any sense, he will try his utmost to make it happen.