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Chad Pennington's Return to the Dolphins Puts Tyler Thigpen on the Block

Michael PintoSenior Writer IMarch 6, 2010

MIAMI - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Tyler Thigpen #16 of the Miami Dolphins watches from the bench as time runs out against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Land Shark Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Miami, Florida. The Steelers defeated the Dolphins 30-24.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Late Friday night the Miami Dolphins resigned quarterback Chad Pennington to a one-year, $2.5 million contract with a $1.5 million increase if he's traded.

Pennington finished second in the MVP voting in 2008 when he led the Dolphins to the postseason for the first time in seven seasons. He was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year amidst one of the most productive outings in his career.

In week three of the 2009 season, Pennington went down for the count with a shoulder injury and was placed on I.R.

Chad Henne took over the reigns, and the first-year starter displayed great potential throughout the season. Though he struggled at times, his production was enough for a vote of confidence from Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano.

Henne will start for Miami in 2010; that's a certainty. What isn't is how the situation will play out for the Dolphins' three other quarterbacks.

Pennington was brought back for a reason. His input as a mentor to the team's younger players and role as a locker room leader is invaluable to the franchise. He will serve as the Dolphins' primary reserve at QB and continue to help the guide the "younger" Chad through his second season leading the offense.

The $1.5 million trade clause in his contract signals that Miami doesn't have intentions of moving the 34-year-old veteran, but rather will utilize his strengths off the field to guide the younger generation of Dolphins.

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Pennington is still recovering from shoulder surgery and likely won't be 100 percent by training camp but should still serve as an excellent option in the event Henne struggles next season.

With the Chads locked into their roles, Tyler Thigpen and Pat White are dispensable at this point.

Since the Dolphins drafted White in the second round of the 2009 draft and haven't really had the chance to develop the former West Virgina standout, it's unlikely he'll be the one shipped away—his trade value at this point wouldn't be worth it anyway.

Thigpen, on the other hand, was acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs for a mid-round draft pick after Pennington went on I.R.  

He didn't see the field until week 17 after Henne suffered an eye injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the Dolphins' contest with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He threw for 83 yards and a touchdown in just over a quarter of play; his two late touchdown drives nearly resulted in an upset victory.

In his 14 starts for the Chiefs in 2008, Thigpen threw for 2608 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He also added 386 yards rushing and three more touchdowns on the ground. 

The 25-year-old is deceptively fast and has a knack for making plays in the open field. Out of the bootleg, Thigpen plays at his best and is very accurate on the run.

With the Dolphins no longer in serious need of his services, it is likely Thigpen will be moved. Though he only has 17 games of experience, what he's shown thus far in his career has garnered the attention of several teams.

The Buffalo Bills, Saint Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, and Carolina Panthers are rumored to be amongst the teams showing the most interest in the four-year veteran.

It is unlikely any of these franchises would bring Thigpen in as their starter, but rather as another body to throw into offseason completions. There are numerous quarterback-starved teams in the league that are always looking for another arm out there.

The Dolphins haven't revealed their plans for Thigpen at this moment, but the writing on the wall says his days in South Florida are numbered. If anyone comes calling with a fourth or fifth round pick offer, Thigpen would likely be shipped out on the next plane.

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