For the last three months
Jason Taylor, the Miami Dolphins, and the media have been engaged in a
ménage-a-tois of speculation and accusation. The root of it all is Taylor’s desire to be
shipped off to a contender.
Recall that Yahoo! Sports
columnist Jason Cole broke the story last March, to which Dolphin domo Bill
Parcells responded, “The only way Jason Taylor doesn't play for the Dolphins in
2008 is if he retires. The team is not going to trade him. This latest report
is just another example of journalistic irresponsibility. Jason Taylor is going
to play for the Dolphins unless he retires. And I tell you what: If we trade
Jason Taylor, I'll call you myself to tell you it's happening. But I'm not
going to have to do that because it isn't happening. That's how sure I am.''
Since that time, Taylor completed his
stint on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” (finishing second) and declared that he
was passing on all of the voluntary camps leading up to training camp. His
point: I am so good, so experienced, and in such good shape, I don’t need the extra
work. Oh, and I really don’t want to be in Miami on another losing team, so please try
to trade me.
For their part, the Dolphins
did try to trade JT before, during, and after the NFL Draft. Not too
surprisingly, at least to Parcells, they couldn’t get a proper deal done. Meanwhile,
Head Coach and Good Cop Tony Sparano has been mostly supportive of Taylor’s
dancing while maintaining dogged focus on the guys actually working in the
offseason program. Put simply, this is how the Dolphins are keeping the porch
light on for JT.
Meanwhile, Bad Cop Parcells
continues to serve cold shoulder to his best player, clearly displeased with JT’s
behavior. It’s a dish that the Tuna has served up before, most notably to
all-World Lawrence Taylor, with usually favorable results.
Mind games? You betcha.
Of course the media has
enjoyed every moment of this blessed event, especially during the slow NFL news
period. There’s nothing more enjoyable to the press than a good, juicy soap
opera, where they can offer up their own spin ad nauseam. When it comes to the Taylor side step, they
haven’t disappointed. Most have boldly (prematurely?) predicted JT’s
They’ve suggested that there
is no value or sense in a continued JT-Dolphins marriage. They’ve called Bill
Parcells “stubborn” for not trading JT away, almost as if they were angry at
him for not proving them right. Some even wailed on about how JT “deserves” to
be set free so that he can get a ring, a thought so absurd that no credible
football man would consider it.
Enough is enough.
In the sincere interest of
wanting the Jason Taylor drama to go away, which it really needs to now given
that this silly dance is going nowhere fast, allow me to simplify the
Where it comes to JT, all
that really matters is four things:
1) Can the guy still play?
2) Is he affordable?
3) Will he be a positive
influence on the team?
4) Is his trade value higher
than his value to the team?
First, Taylor can still play at a high level. This
translates to value, and Parcells is BIG on value. Given where JT is today,
health and ability wise, he could probably get an additional two years beyond
his current contract if he wanted them. If the Dolphins win in 2008, just watch
how quickly JT changes his tune on the “one more year” thing. Remember, Michael
Strahan (15th season) just earned a ring. No question, Taylor (11th season) is still in the hunt as
a Dolphin. He understands this.
Second, the Dolphins can
easily afford Taylor’s
salary ($7.5 million this season and $8 million in 2009, not including
incentives). This means that, cap-wise, the Dolphins have no problem carrying his
contract. They can afford him.
Third, JT is, and always
will be, a team guy. If the Cam Cameron experience didn’t convince you, nothing
he has strong personal and business ties in South Florida, Taylor is justifiably worried about his
legacy and the damage that a messy divorce would bring. He’d retire before he’d
let things get ugly.
Fourth, we’ve seen that no
team is willing to part with a first (or perhaps even a second) round pick for
a 33 year old player who may not line up for more than another season. That’s
understandable. For the Dolphins it means that, for now, JT is worth more to them
as a Dolphin. That’s the correct conclusion, versus getting whatever they can
in a fire sale. Again, we know that Parcells expected this outcome for quite
some time, which is a reason why he said what he did last March.
More and more, it seems as
though Parcells played this situation out brilliantly. The media is slowly
coming to this conclusion as they begrudgingly wipe the egg off of their faces.
Guys like Jacksonville’s
Jack Del Rio know it, too. Their lot have all but conceded that the days of
pulling the wool over the eyes of the Dolphins, Ogunleye-style, are over.
The sooner that Taylor and
his agent come to this conclusion, the better it will be for him and the