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  Taylor Side-Step Going Nowhere
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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For the last three months Jason Taylor, the Miami Dolphins, and the media have been engaged in a ménage-a-tois of speculation and accusation. The root of it all is Taylor’s desire to be shipped off to a contender.


Recall that Yahoo! Sports columnist Jason Cole broke the story last March, to which Dolphin domo Bill Parcells responded, “The only way Jason Taylor doesn't play for the Dolphins in 2008 is if he retires. The team is not going to trade him. This latest report is just another example of journalistic irresponsibility. Jason 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.''


Since that time, Taylor completed his stint on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” (finishing second) and declared that he was passing on all of the voluntary camps leading up to training camp. His point: I am so good, so experienced, and in such good shape, I don’t need the extra work. Oh, and I really don’t want to be in Miami on another losing team, so please try to trade me.


For their part, the Dolphins did try to trade JT before, during, and after the NFL Draft. Not too surprisingly, at least to Parcells, they couldn’t get a proper deal done. Meanwhile, Head Coach and Good Cop Tony Sparano has been mostly supportive of Taylor’s dancing while maintaining dogged focus on the guys actually working in the offseason program. Put simply, this is how the Dolphins are keeping the porch light on for JT.


Meanwhile, Bad Cop Parcells continues to serve cold shoulder to his best player, clearly displeased with JT’s behavior. It’s a dish that the Tuna has served up before, most notably to all-World Lawrence Taylor, with usually favorable results.


Mind games? You betcha.


Of course the media has enjoyed every moment of this blessed event, especially during the slow NFL news period. There’s nothing more enjoyable to the press than a good, juicy soap opera, where they can offer up their own spin ad nauseam. When it comes to the Taylor side step, they haven’t disappointed. Most have boldly (prematurely?) predicted JT’s all-but-certain departure.


They’ve suggested that there is no value or sense in a continued JT-Dolphins marriage. They’ve called Bill Parcells “stubborn” for not trading JT away, almost as if they were angry at him for not proving them right. Some even wailed on about how JT “deserves” to be set free so that he can get a ring, a thought so absurd that no credible football man would consider it.


Enough is enough.


In the sincere interest of wanting the Jason Taylor drama to go away, which it really needs to now given that this silly dance is going nowhere fast, allow me to simplify the conversation.


Where it comes to JT, all that really matters is four things:

1) Can the guy still play?

2) Is he affordable?

3) Will he be a positive influence on the team?

4) Is his trade value higher than his value to the team?


First, Taylor can still play at a high level. This translates to value, and Parcells is BIG on value. Given where JT is today, health and ability wise, he could probably get an additional two years beyond his current contract if he wanted them. If the Dolphins win in 2008, just watch how quickly JT changes his tune on the “one more year” thing. Remember, Michael Strahan (15th season) just earned a ring. No question, Taylor (11th season) is still in the hunt as a Dolphin. He understands this.


Second, the Dolphins can easily afford Taylor’s salary ($7.5 million this season and $8 million in 2009, not including incentives). This means that, cap-wise, the Dolphins have no problem carrying his contract. They can afford him.


Third, JT is, and always will be, a team guy. If the Cam Cameron experience didn’t convince you, nothing will. Because he has strong personal and business ties in South Florida, Taylor is justifiably worried about his legacy and the damage that a messy divorce would bring. He’d retire before he’d let things get ugly.


Fourth, we’ve seen that no team is willing to part with a first (or perhaps even a second) round pick for a 33 year old player who may not line up for more than another season. That’s understandable. For the Dolphins it means that, for now, JT is worth more to them as a Dolphin. That’s the correct conclusion, versus getting whatever they can in a fire sale. Again, we know that Parcells expected this outcome for quite some time, which is a reason why he said what he did last March.


More and more, it seems as though Parcells played this situation out brilliantly. The media is slowly coming to this conclusion as they begrudgingly wipe the egg off of their faces. Guys like Jacksonville’s Jack Del Rio know it, too. Their lot have all but conceded that the days of pulling the wool over the eyes of the Dolphins, Ogunleye-style, are over.


The sooner that Taylor and his agent come to this conclusion, the better it will be for him and the Dolphins.


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