With Olivier Vernon gone and Cam Wake on the mend, a one-time position of strength for the Miami Dolphins is now one of uncertainty.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way.
This was the offseason that their No. 3 pick from 2013 was supposed to take over.
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Instead, anything Dion Jordan gives the team this year is like found money in a seat cushion. Jordan is 11 months into a yearlong banishment after repeated violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.
And he might be one more failed drug test away from being gone for good.
Since entering Stage 3 of the league’s drug program, Jordan has been subject to as many as 10 tests a month, screenings that include alcohol. The results of those tests will play a large role in commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to reinstate him or not in late April.
Still, the Dolphins are at least open to the idea of having Jordan back in 2016, the Miami Herald has learned. Jordan has a home in Miami, if he proves he wants one, sources say.
But that home will come with conditions; most notably, as general manager Chris Grier said in January, showing that he “want[s] to be here and love[s] the game and compete[s].”
That’s assuming Jordan is even allowed to play in 2016. The Dolphins simply don’t know for sure.
That’s why they have been so reluctant to say much of anything about him, either on the record or off. They are barred from direct communication with Jordan during his suspension.
The policy doesn’t prohibit Jordan from speaking with teammates, however, and the Dolphins have an emissary in new linebacker Kiko Alonso, Jordan’s teammate at Oregon.
Last week, Alonso told reporters that he spoke with Jordan recently and believes “he’s going to come back and have a chip on his shoulder.”
Others are more skeptical.
There are real concerns in league circles that Jordan has not shown the necessary level of commitment to getting his career — and life — back on track. Some believe that Jordan is not close to being in playing shape, despite literally having nothing to do but work out and stay sober since last spring.
People who know Jordan well insist that the young player is “not a bad guy,” but he needs regular supervision and direction — something he has gotten little of during his yearlong football exile.
Efforts to reach Jordan and his representatives for comment were unsuccessful.
▪ Running back Chris Johnson visited the Dolphins on Thursday but later re-signed with the Arizona Cardinals, another setback for Miami after Lamar Miller bolted for the Texans and the Broncos matched the Dolphins’ offer sheet for C.J. Anderson.