East Rumors: Vernon, Wilkerson, Cowboys

The Dolphins and Olivier Vernon‘s representatives haven’t spoken much about the possibility of a long-term deal in Miami, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports.

Recognizing the interest the 25-year-old defensive end will draw in free agency if he reaches the market, the Dolphins will entertain the possibility of tagging Vernon with the intent to then trade him, sources inform La Canfora.

The franchise tag for defensive ends is $15.7MM, and the Dolphins already employ the league’s highest-paid defender in Ndamukong Suh, who makes $19.06MM per year. Suh and Cameron Wake‘s cap numbers add up to $38.4MM in 2016 if those contracts are not restructured, making a potential Vernon extension tricky.

PFR’s Dallas Robinson rated Vernon as a top-15 free agent in this year’s class.

Here’s some more news coming out of the Eastern divisions on Combine Saturday.

  • Publicly seeking a long-term deal for some time, Muhammad Wilkerson could also be a tag-and-trade candidate, La Canfora reports. The Jets and Wilkerson’s reps aren’t close on a long-term deal and haven’t discussed it much since talks broke off last year. The 25-year-old’s been the game’s second-best 3-4 defensive end over the past few seasons, and the $15.7MM Wilkerson would draw as a tagged player would make Gang Green’s auxiliary moves — like keeping Ryan Fitzpatrick — more difficult. The Jets possess $21.9MM worth of cap space. League executives told La Canfora Wilkerson is “plenty worth” the deal Marcell Dareus signed to stay in Buffalo last year (six years, $95.1MM, with a $25MM signing bonus) and would be incredibly sought-after on the open market. La Canfora lists the Giants, Raiders and Jaguars as teams who would listen in a tag-and-trade scenario.
  • Jerry Jones expects Tony Romo to be the Cowboys‘ quarterback for another four or five years, he tells media, including Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Although this isn’t the first year Dallas’ owner tossed out that timetable for the soon-to-be-36-year-old quarterback, it wouldn’t mesh with Dallas drafting Romo’s successor at No. 4 overall, but either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz probably reaches the Cowboys at that spot barring a trade-up scenario.
  • Romo’s leaning toward having a plate surgically inserted to stabilize his collarbone, which he injured twice last year, Kevin Patra of NFL.com reports. Such a procedure would allow the 11th-year Cowboys starter to participate in offseason workouts despite suffering his latest setback on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Romo’s backup could be a higher-profile player than Wentz or Goff, at least according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. The veteran reporter expects Robert Griffin III to be in play for the Cowboys next month despite previous reports indicating tepid interest on Dallas’ behalf, Schefter said on a radio appearance with Cowlishaw and Mosley (via JP Finlay of CSNMidAtlantic.com).
  • The lengthy legal battle between DeSean Jackson and former agent Drew Rosenhaus ended with a judge ruling the Washington wideout doesn’t have to pay back the $516K he was previously ruled to have owed Rosenhaus, Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal reports (on Twitter). Jackson and Rosenhaus had been mired in a legal tussle since 2013, when Jackson fired Rosenhaus in favor of Joel Segal. In April 2014, an NFLPA arbitrator ruled in Rosenhaus’ favor after the agent filed a grievance to recoup unpaid loans and agent fees.
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