Taylor and Dolphins to part ways
Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor has already moved away from South Florida. The only thing left is to figure out his next address.
Three sources close to the Dolphins organization said this week that Taylor and the team he has been part of for 11 years have graciously agreed to part ways between now and the NFL draft April 26. There's no animosity between Taylor and new Dolphins guru Bill Parcells or coach Tony Sparano.
There are just plans that each side has. Those plans don't include each other.
For the Dolphins, who are still stinging from the worst year in team history, the plan is to get younger, both through the draft and free agency. The Dolphins have signed six players in the first two days of free agency, none of them household names. They range from quarterback Josh McCown to linebacker Reggie Torbor to defensive tackle Randy Starks.
With the exception of McCown, who is still a relatively young 28 for a quarterback, all of those players are 27 or younger. All have been brought in to replenish a roster that was turned hollow by the poor drafting of Dave Wannstedt from 2000 to 2004. Nick Saban wasn't great in 2005 and 2006 and the jury is still out on Randy Mueller's draft in 2007, but the fact is that going 1-15 in the NFL of today requires a lot of bad work over a long period of time.
That's why the Dolphins, even with a truckload of cap room, have been conspicuously absent in the sweepstakes for top linemen such as Alan Faneca and Flozell Adams. Both are Parcells-type guys, big, tough, nasty and smart. Furthermore, Parcells' M.O. is to build the offensive line.
They're also both over 30 and after taking a couple of months to analyze the Dolphins roster, Parcells knows that he has a long-term project on his hands. There's a very good chance the Dolphins won't be good again until after Faneca and Adams are done as players.
True, the Dolphins did trade for 33-year-old defensive tackle Jason Ferguson, but there are other reasons for that. Ferguson came cheap (he essentially cost Miami a sixth-round pick in 2009), he's a stopgap at defensive tackle (a spot where the Dolphins are truly horrible right now) and he's a Parcells guy, having played for five years under Parcells. Ferguson is the type of guy who can help instill the work ethic and focus Parcells wants for the roster.
That brings the whole thing back to Taylor, who is 33 and will be 34 before next season begins. Taylor has averaged 11½ sacks over his career and has had at least 11 in six of the past eight years. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 and was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year last season for all his charitable work and public service.
Taylor knows the end of his career is near and he's already beginning his transition. He told the Dolphins a month ago that he was going to take part in the "Dancing With the Stars" television series. For that, Taylor has already moved to Los Angeles to prepare and he could be on the show until mid-May, cutting significantly into any offseason program with the Dolphins.
Last month, Taylor appeared on Oprah. Last year, Taylor was the face of the NFL when the league was promoting the Dolphins-New York Giants game in London.
And what a face to use. In 2001, Taylor was featured by Sports Illustrated as one of the "Ten Sexiest Athletes" in sports. He has done movie appearances, has been a pitchman for companies like Neutrogena and has had an eye on Hollywood for as long as he has played.
One can't blame him for that. Making $8 million for a movie is a lot easier than chasing quarterbacks for the same money. Taylor has two years left on a contract that pays him $7.5 million this season and $8 million in 2008.
Not that the Dolphins can't afford that money, but they need players for the long-term a lot more. Taylor isn't interested in the long-term. If he's going to play – and that is an "if" – he wants to do it for a team that will contend.
That's why an Internet rumor that made the rounds Saturday about Taylor going to Green Bay makes some sense. It's premature, but it's logical. Beyond that, the stated price of a second- and fourth-round pick for Taylor is low. Heck, if Justin Smith can get $65 million from San Francisco, the Dolphins should be able to get at least a first-round pick for Taylor.
Of course, all of that remains to be seen. But be sure of one thing, just as Taylor will be seen dancing by millions of viewers over the coming weeks, his name will be in trade talks held behind closed doors.