the start of camp rapidly approaching (August 1), Miami Dolphins first round
pick Vontae Davis remains unsigned. This seems to be the norm across the NFL, with
only 4 of the 32 first rounders under contract as of this writing.
no worries, right?
typically rely on the contracts of players drafted above and below their
clients to help set the parameters for a deal in terms of salary, bonus, and
of this writing, the closest signed player to Davis
Alex Mack (#21). Mack is a center. Davis,
taken 25th, is a cornerback. This means that setting comparables off
of Mackís contract would be a bit of a reach.
so many players still unsigned just days away from the start of training camp,
it is difficult to see how the right chips will fall into place in time for Davis to avoid a holdout.
thereís more to consider here.
the NFLís labor situation on the brink of potential chaos, agents could be
posturing for terms that will best serve their clients should the rules of the
game be turned on their proverbial ear. Remember that, in May of 2008, owners
decided to opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. This would
mean that the 2010 season would not have a salary cap limit and that a work
stoppage in 2011 would be imminent unless a new agreement is reached
long term deals are not necessarily in a rookieís best interest at the present
time. Teams, on the other hand, would like to avoid doing short term rookie
deals as they could have adverse consequences down the road. These two
positions are not easily reconciled.
potential complication in getting Davis
into camp on time is his agent, Todd France.
years ago, France
locked up with the Dolphins over Ronnie Brownís rookie contract. The stalemate resulted
in a damaging holdout for Brown that severely impacted his rookie season.
Brown in regards to his 2005 holdout, ďUnfortunately I missed camp and I think
that slowed me down a little bitĒ.
it slowed him down a lot. Brown didnít get rolling on offense until late
September, and was a part-timer for the rest of the season. In fact, if it
werenít for Ricky Williams, the 2005 Dolphins (9-7) wouldnít have finished
hasnít had another first round client since that fiasco four seasons ago. Yet
he is back in 2009 with three first round clients, the highest being DE/LB
Larry English (#16, Chargers). No doubt France had to make some big
promises in order to sign English, Davis, and WR Kenny Britt (#30, Titans).
he has to show them the money.
one considers the current lack of salary parameters, the looming CBA issue, and
Franceís history with the
Dolphins, thereís concern that Davis
might be a holdout.
we know: the Dolphins cannot afford for Davis
to be tardy. They are thin at cornerback and are counting on him to help shore
up their secondary, perhaps even to start opposite Will Allen. This means that
he needs to be in camp, like yesterday, working on his conditioning and his learning.
is always the case with rookies, Davis
needs an abundance of both. He looked lost at times during coverage drills in
the recent OTAs. His conditioning also didnít seem to be up to NFL and South Florida standards.
of these issues is uncommon with rookies, and both are correctable with hard
work under the supervision of Dolphin coaches. The Dolphins donít want to waste
one minute in getting Davis,
the top rated corner in the draft, onto the field; he has all the tools to be a
good player for years to come.
they hedged their bets by drafting Utahís
Sean Smith with the second of the team's two second-round selections in the
2009 draft. Both he and Davis got some snaps with the first team defense during
the OTAs, which indicates that they feel good about where Smith is relative to Davis. Signed last week
to a reported 4 year, $3.1 million deal, Smithís development will continue.
Davis, unsigned, remains
is what happened to Brown in 2005. Yet if Brown made a rookie mistake, they
could just line up and run the next play. If Davis makes a mistake versus the likes of
Randy Moss or Terrell Owens, itís six points for the other team.
is why history is against the success of rookie corners that are late to camp,
especially in todayís NFL; swimming in playbook terminology, thinking instead
of reacting, is a recipe for disaster.
a tardy Davis would
probably have to be relegated to playing strictly in spot situations and on special
teams for 2009. They simply couldnít trust him with more.
is not what the Dolphins had in mind when they drafted him. Yet this is the
fate that likely waits if his contract situation isnít settled, and soon.