Bill Parcells must have spent a lot of time on the phone Sunday.
The Miami Dolphins vice president of football operations, responding to a Yahoo! Sports report that Jason Taylor and the organization had agreed to part ways, said in March: "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."
Clearly, certainty turned to reconsideration as Taylor – a six-time Pro Bowler, the league's reigning Man of the Year and 2006 defensive player of the year – was traded to the Washington Redskins on Sunday for a second-round draft pick in 2009 and sixth-rounder in 2010. The deal was logical and necessary for all parties involved.
"This move really revitalizes Jason for the end of his career," Gary Wichard, Taylor's agent, said Sunday.
Only a month ago, Taylor was talking about how he might retire after this season if he had to play for the Dolphins, opting instead to pursue his budding acting career. But before finalizing the deal, the Redskins asked Taylor to promise that he would play at least the final two years of his contract. He agreed, according to Wichard.
Still, Washington's immediate concern is '08 and stabilizing a line that lost defensive end Phillip Daniels to a season-ending left knee injury Sunday, the Redskins' opening day of training camp practices. Beyond replacing Daniels, acquiring Taylor gives Washington a dynamic defender who forces opposing offensive coordinators to sweat quite a bit.
The Redskins made the playoffs last season, but it required an improbable late-season push that was fueled, in part, by the emotional circumstances surrounding the death of star safety Sean Taylor. In a division that includes the Super Bowl champion Giants, a loaded Cowboys squad and three supremely talented passers (Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb), the Redskins needed a good pass rusher who can cause steady disruption.
Taylor, one of the most dynamic athletes in the NFL, can rush or cover with nearly equal ability. He can play in a 4-3 or in a 3-4. Just move him around and watch offensive linemen stumble trying to find him.
While Taylor is much closer to the end of his career than to the beginning, it says plenty that at least eight teams were calling the Dolphins regularly to check on his availability, according to a Dolphins team source.
For Taylor, the move is huge because it puts him on a competitive team after six years of watching the Dolphins get progressively worse. It also puts him on a relatively big stage again, something Taylor loves. Not only do the Redskins play in the Sept. 4 season opener against the Giants, but they have two more prime-time games against Pittsburgh and Dallas.
That's three big chances to get Taylor's mug all over the airwaves, only a few months after his impressive performance on "Dancing With the Stars."
With the Dolphins, there were no prime-time games and little hope of getting back there anytime soon. The team bottomed out last year at 1-15 and Taylor had enough. As much as Taylor has invested himself in the South Florida community, he wanted out. He told the Dolphins that at the end of last season and Wichard kept on the team during the offseason.
Now, Parcells, new general manager Jeff Ireland and new coach Tony Sparano can go about restructuring the team rather than answering daily questions about Taylor, who was the roster's only star.
At 33, Taylor has spent six years watching the Dolphins try to rebuild. Parcells is starting the latest rebuilding program and he desperately needs young players to rejuvenate a roster that is loaded with flotsam.
Despite Parcells' proclamation in the spring, everybody knew the deal. The Dolphins aren't going to be competitive for a couple of years, at best. It's not just that the roster is bad, but the skill position players are woeful. Start with quarterback, where Josh McCown, John Beck and rookie Chad Henne are competing for the starting job. No matter who wins the job, it's unlikely that New England coach Bill Belichick is going to be sweating over how to defend against them this year.
Or next year.
At wide receiver, the hope is that 2007 first-round pick Ted Ginn Jr. will become a star, but he didn't show much promise of greatness last season.
Ultimately, Parcells didn't like the idea of being pushed around, particularly by an agent, but a deal had to be done.
It was for the best of all involved.
- the Redskins
- Bill Parcells