Think the Dolphins are just
going to cut a deal with one guy, slot him in at last year’s top overall salary
plus 5% or so, and call it a day?
Predictably, Bill Parcells
has reportedly opened negotiations with at least two of the top talents in this
year’s NFL Draft: Michigan OT Jake Long and Ohio State DE/OLB Vernon Gholston.
I say “at least” because these are the two names that have been flushed out by
the South Florida media thus far. There could
Of course this is all public
now because Parcells wants teams below the Dolphins, teams with their
eyes on one of these two premier prospects, to strongly consider making a deal for
the Dolphins top pick.
There’s also the desire to
have multiple people at the negotiation table in order to get the best possible
deal in advance of the April 26 draft.
Smart business, all of it.
But there could be more to
it than that. Much more.
See, there’s a specific
reason why the given names have been leaked to the media. Parcells knows
there are teams within the top 5 that have keen, specific interest in both
for example, has long been rumored to have their hearts set on Gholston. If
true, we’ll find out just how much in love the Raiders are with him. Is it
enough for Al Davis to pick up the phone and make a deal with Parcells?
Then there’s the Matt Ryan
As explained by my former
colleague at sportsTALK.com, Mike Florio (now of Profootballtalk.com), Tom Condon,
who represents Ryan, also represents Jake Long. This puts Condon in a very
“It’s actually a
multi-layered conflict of interest for Condon”, wrote Florio. “If the Fins are
willing to make Ryan the No. 1 overall pick with a deal equal to or less than
the contract paid a year ago to Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Ryan
needs to ask himself whether, in the end, he’ll make as much or more if he’s
not the No. 1 overall pick.”
“At best, Ryan would
otherwise be No. 3. If the Falcons don’t
select him with the third overall pick, he could fall to No. 5 (Chiefs), No. 6
(Jets), or No. 8 (Ravens). If he gets
past No. 8, he likely will make it into the teens. So with the money dropping
astronomically once a player falls beyond the top three or four picks, Ryan
would be wise to get the best deal done at No. 1.”
The problem, of course, is
whether or not Condon is willing to put a client’s interest (Ryan’s) ahead of
his own. No doubt the Brady Quinn fiasco from last year, where he lost millions
by falling to #22, is still fresh in Condon’s mind given that he is Quinn’s
agent. According to Florio, rumor has it that the Raiders tried to cut a deal
with Quinn for the top overall pick before settling on Russell. If true, it was
a huge tactical blunder by Condon.
No matter the outcome, it is
a fascinating play by Parcells. If the end game here is Ryan, it’s a creative
way to get the top QB in the draft without overpaying more than otherwise would
be the case. This makes Ryan much more attractive as a prospect by reducing the
financial risk of drafting a QB first overall.
All of this really gets back
to the two fundamental issues the Dolphins began this draft process with.
Firstly, that they badly want to trade down. And, second, that they want to
minimize the enormous contract, and reduce the associated risk, that the first
overall pick would command.
Sure, all of this could be
much simpler than is being suggested here. Perhaps the Dolphins are just head
over heels in love with Jake Long. There is, after all, a desperate need on the
offensive line. Long, together with Vernon Carey, could give the Dolphins
stability at Tackle for the next 10 seasons. It would also make sense given
that the best two players on offense are running backs (Ronnie Brown and Ricky
Williams) and that a young QB prospect (John Beck or someone else) is likely to
be at the helm of the ship in 2008. Young QBs take a bit longer to make
decisions, and a franchise left tackle, someone who can hold off a premier pass
rusher for an extra fraction of time, can make all the difference.
There’s no question that Jake
Long would be a pick that everyone would feel good about, especially if he
comes at a lower price.
Again, we don’t know what we
don’t know. In the days ahead, we may learn that Marvin Demoff, the agent for
Virginia DE Chris Long, is also at the bargaining table. Demoff has a history
with the Dolphins, having been Dan Marino’s agent.
In any case, it is clear
that the Dolphins aren’t content to just sit back and take their medicine.
There’s innovative thinking going on here, and that’s always a smart move.