Not for long.
That’s the moniker that players and coaches alike have given the abbreviations for the most popular league in North America, the NFL.
Now that Super Bowl Sunday is officially over, it marks the beginning of the next season in the NFL, the offseason. If you watched the Super Bowl you saw how important it is for a team to have a strong pass rush. Von Miller was an absolute beast and his play is one of the biggest reasons why the Denver Broncos walked away as winners on Super Bowl Sunday.
One Play Could Change Everything
If you watched the Miami Dolphins this year then you understand how one of your strongest aspects of your team can become a weakness in just one play. In the league, your whole year could change in the course of one play and for the Dolphins they had to feel the effect of how devastating one play could be.
For Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake, he saw his whole career change in an instant this year. Wake was having yet another Pro Bowl caliber season after having the most dominant performances in weeks six and seven in the NFL season where he had 6 sacks, four forced fumbles, and one pass deflection alone. However, during the 36-7 road loss to the New England Patriots, Wake was forced to sit out for the rest of the season because of a torn Achilles. The Dolphins went on to underachieve after having playoff aspirations finishing with a 6-10 record.
Meanwhile, Wake’s protégé, Olivier Vernon, he went on to have a phenomenal season where he finished with 7.5 sacks, and 61 tackles. Vernon held down the interior and played like the rush end we expected as he picked up the slack in Wake’s absence.
— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) November 13, 2015
“Vernon was one of the most formidable pass-rushers in the league, reveling in the role as the top guy in Miami once Cameron Wake went down with an injury. This marks two seasons of steady improvement from Vernon, who has earned a big contract as one of the league’s best pass-rushers”
– Sam Monson
There’s only one problem.
Vernon who’s 25-years-old might have two NFL contracts left in his game if he’s blessed with a clean bill of health which is why he’s got to cash out next year. Vernon is a free agent and the Dolphins might not have enough money to sign him. For Vernon, this could be the blessing that he’s always wanted. Vernon would be given the chance to make the type of money that most NFL players don’t get to see.
Last season Jerry Hughes of the Buffalo Bills signed a deal five-year deal that was at least at $45 million dollars, including $20 million in guaranteed salary. Hughes was a first-round pick that had 25 sacks and five forced fumbles during his first five years in the league before his second contract. Meanwhile, Vernon in his four years in the league has 29 sacks and four forced fumbles. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Vernon to ask for a bigger number (closer to $40 million or more) than Hughes since he’s younger, he’s better, and he shown to have more productivity.
However, it leaves a lot of doubt when you hear words like this.
“We want to pay people fairly and appropriately, so we’re not quite there yet,”
– Mike Tannenbaum
That is a bit discouraging to Dolphins fans because they know how important Vernon is to their success.
There are a few options that the Dolphins could take including letting a 25-year-old pass rusher who’s going to enter into his prime walk away for nothing. That is the worst-case scenario for Miami. The best case scenario is that the Dolphins will be able to sign Vernon because he’ll ask for a hometown discount. Now, obviously, Vernon shouldn’t because he deserves to make his money but that’s the optimistic thinking management is hoping because the third option could prove to become the worst one.
That is the worst-case scenario for Miami. The best case scenario is that the Dolphins will be able to sign Vernon because he’ll ask for a hometown discount. Now, obviously, Vernon shouldn’t because he deserves to make his money but that’s the optimistic thinking management is hoping because the third option could prove to become the worst one.
Since Wake is coming off a major injury, is about to turn 34-years-old, and is set to make $8.4 million in salary in 2016, the Dolphins would find it ideal if they could restructure Wake’s contract in order to keep both dominant pass rushers on the team.
Now should Wake take a pay cut to bring in another younger player? Absolutely not. It’s the Dolphins job to find a way to keep Vernon in Miami, and if they can’t do it, they’ve once again failed as a franchise.
Thankfully, we’ll be able to see this come to a resolution sooner rather than later.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter @DJoumbarey.