1:27pm: Word around the combine is that the Dolphins are “50/50” on whether or not to franchise Vernon, tweets Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net.
1:18pm: The Dolphins have just five more days to decide whether or not to use their franchise tag on pass rusher Olivier Vernon. As they weigh their options, one potential outcome the team is considering is franchising Vernon, then trading him, according to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com.
[RELATED: 2016’s top franchise tag candidates]
While Miami has not yet made any decisions, Raanan hears from several league sources with knowledge of the situation that the team has been indicating at the combine that franchising and trading Vernon is a possibility. The franchise tag for defensive ends is expected to be worth about $15.5MM in 2016, which is a steep price to pay, but the Dolphins risk losing a 25-year-old pass rusher for nothing if they don’t use a tag.
The Dolphins’ current cap situation will make it hard to franchise Vernon and keep him, which would limit the club’s leverage in possible trade negotiations, notes Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Still, Miami could potentially keep clearing room by restructuring Ndamukong Suh‘s contract, working out a new deal with Cameron Wake, and potentially cutting some other players with significant cap hits.
If the Dolphins do use their franchise tag on Vernon and then attempt to work out a trade for him, it remains to be seen whether any teams will want to give up a much of value for the right to commit to Vernon on a huge, long-term deal. Although he has shown promise during his first four NFL seasons, the former third-round pick recorded just 6.5 sacks in 2014 and 7.5 in 2015 as a full-time starter. Using the franchise tag on Vernon would put his floor for a multiyear contract at about $15MM per year, which would make him one of the highest-paid defensive players in the NFL.
For what it’s worth, Dolphins executive VP Mike Tannenbaum said on Wednesday that the team has yet to decide on whether to tag Vernon.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.