NFL Free Agency: Chad Pennington Preparing for Return To Miami Dolphins

Michael PintoSenior Writer IMarch 5, 2010

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 27:  Chad Pennington #10, quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, is seen with  band aid on the bridge of his nose as he calls a play against San Diego Chargers during first quarter of the NFL football game at Qualcomm Stadium on September 27, 2009 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It's been reported that the Miami Dolphins are closing a deal to retain quarterback Chad Pennington. With free agency to begin at midnight on March 5, the move couldn't have come much sooner.

Nothing is official yet, but the sides appear to be ironing out the details, and an official announcement should come soon.

The 34-year-old veteran is still recovering from right shoulder surgery after an injury suffered in the Dolphins Week Three contest against the San Diego Chargers. Placed on IR, he watched from the sidelines as Chad Henne took over the reigns on offense.

It remains to be seen where Pennington fits into Miami's plans for 2010 with the emergence of Henne. The second-year player struggled at times last season, but he showed great promise. The former Michigan standout has a cannon for an arm and is capable of stretching the field in ways the "other" Chad just doesn't have the arm strength to do.

Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland described Henne as "the future of the Miami Dolphins right now" while being interviewed at the NFL Scouting Combine. Ireland spoke fondly of Pennington as well, though.

"We've talked to Chad [Pennington] on a number of different avenues. I don't want to reveal my cards as far as my offseason plans, but I like Chad a lot. He's a leader."

Pennington still has a lot of recovery left, so it would make sense for him to serve as Henne's primary backup. That may not be the desired role of the nine-year veteran, but Pennington is a consummate pro. He'll serve well in any capacity.

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There are few quarterbacks with his combination of intelligence and work ethic, and in his two years with the Dolphins, Pennington has helped in Henne's development in numerous ways.

As the elder Chad's understudy in 2009, Henne got a first-class lesson in film study. Pennington regularly issued assignments to the team's backup quarterbacks. Henne and former Dolphin John Beck credited him for smoothing their transition to the NFL.

That's what Pennington gives the Dolphins. He's a veteran who's played this game for a long time. He's seen every defense the league can throw at a quarterback, and his 66.1 career completion percentage is tops in NFL history. Pennington is not the most naturally gifted of athletes, but his success is a testament to his intelligence and decision-making.

Henne should maintain his starting role in 2010 as long as his production doesn't taper off. Having Pennington at his side can only serve as a positive. The Dolphins wouldn't be bringing him back otherwise.