Free agency has officially begun and it won't be long until the first wave of players come off the board. One of those names will be Karlos Dansby; the top linebacker option available this year.
Dansby confirmed on NFL Live early Friday morning that he would be traveling to South Florida later in the day to meet with the Dolphins brass.
Dansby and his representatives are believed to be in the process of working out a lucrative, multi-year contract with the Dolphins.
The deal is expected to make him one of the highest paid linebackers in the NFL. Dansby is seeking a contract in the same neighborhood as Bart Scott's five-year, $40 million deal with the New York Jets from a year ago. Whatever the final number may be, expect Dansby's free agent splash to trump Scott's.
The Redskins have also displayed interest in defensive end Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers.
With Peppers believed to be Washigton's top priority, expect the Dolphins and Falcons to try closing out a deal with Dansby before the Skins can get in on the action. The New York Giants have also been linked to the Dansby sweepstakes, but their level of interest remains unknown.
The Giants are in serious talks with representatives of Antrel Rolle about a deal for the former Cardinals safety. Rolle is seeking a deal somewhere in the vicinity of $8 million a year so seems unlikely the Giants would be willing to spend big money to sign both Rolle and Dansby.
That basically puts the Dolphins in a one-on-one race with the Falcons for the prized linebacker's services.
If signed, Dansby would be a major upgrade to Miami's inside linebacker unit. Incumbent starters Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele combined for just 122 tackles in 2009, and were hampered by nagging injuries for long stretches of the season. Dansby on the other hand, has had back-to-back 100 tackle seasons, and is regarded as one of the best in the business when it comes to wrapping opponents up.
It's likely the Dolphins would release or trade Ayodele to escape the $3.25 million owed to the 30-year-old veteran next season if terms were agreed upon with Dansby. Depending on the deal, Dolphins reserve Reggie Torbor might also find his head on the chopping block.
With the uncapped year underway, now is the time team's will start shedding unwanted contracts without the risk of cap penalties for doing so. That situation doesn't bode well for Miami's current backers.
Whatever the outcome, it won't be long before this year's top free agent linebacker has a new home. The Dolphins are at the head of the charge to land his services, but a lot of money is being tossed around and it remains to be seen which way Dansby will sway.
Luckily for Miami, most of his suitors are also after Peppers. They may end up regretting the move if the Dolphins sneak off with Dansby while the bidding wars heat up.