X

NFL Free Agency: Jason Taylor to the Jets Would Be Hard for Dolphins to Swallow

Michael PintoSenior Writer IApril 8, 2010

MIAMI - JANUARY 03:  Linebacker Jason Taylor #99 of the Miami Dolphins looks on as the last few moments of the game tick away against the Pittsburgh Steelers calls out a play at the line of scrimmage 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

Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland met with the media Thursday for a pre-draft press conference.

The main topic of discussion, though, was the future of Jason Taylor. 

Ireland wouldn't go into details: "This is where we are on Jason Taylor. This organization knows exactly our stance on it. Jason and his agent know our stance on it. I'm not going to air our business through the media."

When pressed further, he added, "We have to evaluate things after the draft. That's where we're at."

It's fair for the Dolphins to conduct business in this manner, especially when the draft is loaded with quality pass-rushers and Miami is expected to grab one in the first two rounds. 

But that shouldn't exclude Jason Taylor from the team's immediate plans. He proved, a year ago, that he'd be willing to play any role the coaches deemed fit, whether that meant starting, coming off the bench, or even mentoring the young guys. 

Of course J.T. wants to play, but he knows how this business works and isn't going to fight the inevitable. He'll be 36 years old in September and he's had a long, successful career.

At this stage he isn't ready to throw in the towel yet, but he understands that this is a young man's game. 

When he was traded to the Washington Redskins in 2008, Taylor left his family behind. After all, Miami was their home, and he wasn't going to uproot his wife and children. When he returned to the Dolphins he spoke of how difficult it was to be separated from his loved ones. It was clear he wanted to remain in Miami, not just because the Dolphins were his home, but because Miami was his family's home.

This offseason, he made it clear, not just that he wanted to return to the Dolphins, but that he knew he'd be waiting by the phone for a long time to hear from them. 

To play for the Dolphins, Taylor will play for cheap. He'll warm the bench if he has too. But he has pride as well. If Miami isn't going to show him any love, he'll do what he has to and move on.

Why the Dolphins insist on waiting until after the draft to address his situation doesn't really add up.

Taylor is a team player, a leader, and a veteran who would be an invaluable asset to young players. He wouldn't hinder anyone's growth or get in the way of developing talent. In fact, it would be quite the opposite. 

After Taylor joined the team last offseason, Dolphins outside linebacker Quentin Moses said he learned more in one week watching No. 99 play than he had in his entire career.

Several other young guys gave Taylor similar praise as well. He has secrets of the trade that just can't be taught by coaches. 

So.

He's willing to play cheap, he's willing to take a backseat, but the Dolphins aren't willing to budge.

Although he left New York without a contract after the Jets wined and dined him, that doesn't mean he won't be back. 

Miami is playing a dangerous game right now—one that could see the NFL's active sack leader and one of the best players in Dolphins history playing for the team's most hated rival. 

The thought of Jason Taylor wearing Jets colors is hard to stomach for most Dolphins fans. It would really be a shame to see him finish his career anywhere but Miami. But to see it happen in the division, in New York, playing for Rex Ryan and the Jets, is a nightmare. 

This goes beyond rivalries and sentiment; Taylor can still play, don't convince yourself otherwise.

He only had seven sacks in 2009, but he was probably the best run-stopping outside linebacker on the team. 

That production can be equaled in New York, as can his leadership.

If he becomes a Jet, it'll be young guys Calvin Pace, David Harris, Mike DeVito, Ropati Pitoitua, Rodrique Wright, and Vernon Gholston who'll be picking his brain for tips next season instead of the Dolphins' pups. 

There's nothing good about this situation.

The Dolphins need to realize that before it's too late. Their draft plans shouldn't affect a decision on Taylor.

If they sign him now and then decide to give minutes to other players next season, he'll take it like a professional. At the very least he'll serve as injury insurance and a mentor.

On a side note, that's pretty much the team's plan for Chad Pennington as well.

Worst-case scenario, Taylor doesn't work out and the Dolphins cut him. If that's a decision they come to down the line then so be it, we'll have to accept it. 

But doing nothing isn't acceptable. Neither is watching him stroll into the arms of a division rival. 

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.