When the Miami Dolphins open training camp on Saturday they could be without a major piece to the 2013 puzzle. First-round defensive end Dion Jordan remains unsigned as his agent and the Dolphins continue negotiations, but the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft tells Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald that he expects his deal to be done.
"It’s not finalized yet, but I’ll be there," Jordan said on Friday.
The main squabble between the two sides is over "offset" language, which allows the team to save money on guaranteed contracts if that player is released. For example, Jordan's base salary in 2016 is expected to be around $3.2 million, fully guaranteed. If the Dolphins obtain offset language in the contract, and Jordan is released in 2016, they can save money if he signs elsewhere.
To the Dolphins, the push to obtain offset language is not the team making a statement about a player, it's a matter of policy. The club has sought, and obtained, offset language in recent contract extensions and from their high draft picks, including the four-year, $12.668 million contract signed by Ryan Tannehill, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. For Jordan's agents, Doug Hendrickson of Octagon, agreeing to include offset language in a contract for the No. 3 overall pick is risky as it sets a bad precedent for future No. 3 picks and provides ammunition to competing agents on the recruiting trail.
Getting Jordan into the fold quickly is a high priority for the Dolphins, who lacked a consistent pass rush in 2012 and hope the 6-foot-6, 248-pound Jordan can be a disruptive presence opposite Pro Bowler Cameron Wake. Because Jordan played at the University of Oregon, which operates on a "quarters" system, he was unavailable to participate in the Dolphins' offseason program and hasn't had much on-field work with Miami's coaching staff.
One thing that should be made clear is that if no deal is reached before camp opens on Saturday, Jordan should not be considered a "holdout". Jordan is merely an unsigned rookie, a status that is equally the fault of the team as it is the player's representation as contract negotiations are a two-way street.
Tannehill's contract might provide a pathway for both sides to reach an amiable deal that gets Jordan into training camp on time. While Tannehill's contract includes offset language, his base salaries throughout the deal are at the league minimum. Tannehill also has $2,915,046 in "roster bonuses" that are paid out on the fifth day of training camp. The first of those, worth $485,841, is due on July 24, 2013. The Dolphins could take a similar approach with Jordan's contract to get these deal done before camp opens.