In a move that may surprise some and be totally expected by others, the Miami Dolphins have brought back one of the greatest players in franchise history, agreeing to terms on a contract with outside linebacker Jason Taylor.
The news, which was initially broken Monday on the Jason Taylor Foundation Facebook page, has since been confirmed by the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero, who reports general manager Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano approached Taylor about the reunion.
Now 36, Taylor will be entering his third stint with the team that originally drafted him in the third round out of Akron back in 1997. Taylor spent the first 11 years of his career in Miami, notching six Pro Bowl selections and an Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2006 with 13.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles.
Taylor, who is currently with Lawrence Taylor for eighth all-time with 132.5 career sacks, also owns the NFL records for most fumbles returned for touchdowns (six) and most touchdowns by a defensive lineman (eight).
After a reported rift between Taylor and new Dolphins vice president Bill Parcells, Taylor was traded to the Washington Redskins in exchange for a 2009 second-round pick (used to select quarterback Pat White) and a 2010 sixth-round pick.
Taylor played just one season with the Redskins before returning to the Dolphins on a one-year, $1.1 million deal in 2009. However, the Dolphins and Taylor could not agree to terms on a new contract following the season and he was signed by the New York Jets in 2010. Taylor started five of 16 games for the Jets last season, recording five sacks and two forced fumbles.
This is obviously a feel-good move for the fans, who will get to see one of the greatest defenders in franchise history return to the team after a season with its most bitter rival. One would hope the fans that misguidedly denounced Taylor signing with the Jets will come back around, because it's obvious Taylor has given so much to the Dolphins and the Miami community that he deserves nothing but their respect.
Forgetting all the positive sentimental angles about this move, however, this is an excellent move purely from a football standpoint.
Yes, Taylor is 36 and probably isn't going to be racking up any more 15-sack seasons like he used to. But that's not what the Dolphins are asking him to do, and his role with the team at this stage in his career should be a great fit.
Obviously, Taylor provides a great veteran presence in the locker room as he always did, and his knowledge and experience can certainly do nothing but help the team's younger pass rushers. He also has the benefit of playing a year with the Jets in Rex Ryan's defense, and any insights he can provide from that experience couldn't hurt.
Despite Cameron Wake's breakout performance in 2010, the team's pass rush beyond him was practically nonexistent and the depth was sorely lacking. The addition of Jason Trusnik helps a tiny bit, but there is no doubt the team could use a true third pass rusher.
While someone like Manny Lawson would have been nice (albeit more pricey), Taylor remains a well-rounded player that can play the run, drop back in coverage and get to the quarterback, despite his age.
One of the Dolphins' biggest needs was addressing the depth behind Wake and Koa Misi, and the Dolphins might have found the perfect fit here in a familiar face, a Dolphins great and a future Hall of Famer.
As always, check out the updated projected depth chart reflecting these transactions here.
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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and currently works for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
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