One of the Dolphins’ most significant impending free agents was optimistic Monday about his chances of remaining with the team, but more uncertainty surrounds two other key potential free agents.
Cornerback Brent Grimes said Monday he’s hopeful but not certain that he will re-sign with the Dolphins.
“They said they like me here and want to have me back,” he said at Jason Taylor’s charity golf tournament. “Hopefully, it happens sooner than later.”
Grimes said the Dolphins have not discussed slapping him with the franchise tag, which likely will top $11 million, and he prefers that does not happen.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins have not made an offer to either of their key impending free agent defensive tackles, Randy Starks or Paul Soliai, but have expressed interest in re-signing both, according to league sources.
They are expected to make an offer to Soliai before free agency begins in two weeks, barring a change of heart.
The Dolphins have conveyed that they would be fine with Starks testing the free agent market and coming back to them with a competing offer.
Nevertheless, they haven’t ruled out making an offer to Starks before the start of free agency.
Unofficial interest in Soliai has been significant this week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Soliai has moved out of his South Florida home but in the past has expressed a fondness for living here.
Free agents cannot sign with other teams before March 11 and can speak only with their current teams until March 8, at which point they can begin talking to any team.
The Dolphins will have more than $35 million in cap space. Miami could free up even more space if it restructures Mike Wallace’s five-year, $60 million contract. But as of Monday afternoon, there had been no such discussions with Wallace’s representatives.
Wallace has a cap figure of more than $17 million in 2014, but it will drop to $12 million in 2015.
Long snapper John Denney, the Dolphins’ union representative, hasn’t read Ted Wells’ 144-page report on the team’s bullying scandal and said he didn’t hear media accounts of the report, either. But he nevertheless discredited Wells’ findings.
“I have a hard time believing,” Denney said, “that you’re going to pay a guy good money to take his time to do an investigation, spend three months on it — all of us can agree he’s not going to walk out of there and address the table and say, ‘I’ve got nothing, guys, sorry.’ You’ve got to come up with something. They’re paying good money to come up with something.”
Denney said he didn’t want to hear about the details of the report because “I’ve been in the middle of it, so I’ve got nothing to read or see or hear. ... This whole thing nauseates me.”
Why? “Because it’s a little too much,” Denney said. “Everything has been blown out of proportion.”
What about Wells’ claim that several players were harassed, not only Jonathan Martin?
“Ted Wells can go into any one of the 32 teams in the entire league and he is going to come out with the same investigation, same results,” Denney said. “Every single player in this league has been bullied, if that’s what bullying is defined is.”
Denney, who came into the league with the Dolphins in 2005, said he never witnessed any conduct that he considered to be over the line.
Does Denney blame Martin because this wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t left?
“You answered your own question,” Denny said. “You know the answer to that. I’m not answering that question. It’s a little obvious.”
Would Martin be welcomed back to the Dolphins’ locker room in the unlikely event that happened?
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Denney said.
This and that• Reports that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had tried to withhold compensation owed to line coach Jim Turner and trainer Kevin O’Neill after their termination are erroneous, according to a team source. The club strongly denies reports that Ross tried to fire Turner with cause.
• Ryan Tannehill said he has spoken some with new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and the offense “definitely will be different. It’s a completely different system. Bill runs a numbers system. Coach [Mike] Sherman was a West Coast-style system. Everything is going to have a different name. It’s going to be reprogrammed in my brain to work in a different way. It’s a big task.”
Will fans see a difference in how the offense looks? Tannehill said he doesn’t know because league rules limit contact between coaches and players this time of year. “I’m excited,” he said. “He’s a fun guy to work with.”