Dontari Poe will come to the Miami Dolphins training facility Wednesday and the team will do everything it can to convince the free agent defensive tackle that South Florida is the right place and the Dolphins are the best team for him. It is going to be a warm and inviting visit. It is going to be tons of fun.
A barrel of monkeys!
And at some point, Poe or his agent is going to want to see a manifestation of that love and fun in the form of cash.
That’s when things are going to get interesting.
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The Dolphins want to sign Poe. Poe wants to sign.
But the Dolphins want Poe at their number.
And, forgive me for predicting, but it would be shocking if that is the number Poe is bringing in his mind to South Florida.
My guess is Dontari Poe wants market price for a a good defensive tackle. That will probably be somewhere in the $8 million a year range.
That is not going to happen for Poe in Miami.
If Poe, on the other hand, is willing to take a one-year deal for about $3 million, maybe even $4 million if the Dolphins stretch the value they’ve placed on the position, then the sides can get somewhere.
But, again, that’s hard to fathom because Poe is coming to the Dolphins after visiting the Atlanta Falcons and the Indianapolis Colts and he’s hoping for something of a bidding war for his services.
The Dolphins are not going to win a bidding war. The Dolphins are not going to engage in a bidding war.
The Dolphins are not paying big bucks for Dontari Poe.
I have previously outlined for you how the Dolphins have significant resources already tied up in the defensive tackle position. And I’ve reported that the team doesn’t want to sink tons more resources into the position in the form of an over-priced free agent signing. That is why this Poe thing is going to hit a brick wall if Poe wants a major contract from Miami.
Maybe there can be some sort of compromise.
Suppose Poe is coming to Miami because no one else wants to pay him, either. This isn’t out of the realm of possibility because as you previously read, he’s already visited a couple of teams and obviously he wasn’t so blown away as to want to sign with anyone. So he’s still searching for the payday.
Well, maybe he gets the Dolphins’ number and realizes there will be no major payday this year. Maybe he realizes he has to settle for a one-year prove-it deal.
But Poe isn’t going to get a one-year $7-$8 million deal from the Dolphins, either. Again, $3-$4 million -- maybe.
This is where the genius of a Mike Tannenbaum is going to have to intervene. Perhaps Tannenbaum can sell Poe on a deal that basically costs the Dolphins $3-$4 million against the cap while still giving the player what he wants, which is $8 million.
This is how it might work: Two-year deal for $16 million. Poe gets a $7 million signing bonus plus a base salary of $775,000 which is the veteran minimum for a sixth-year player. Throw in a $25,000 workout bonus and Poe reaches the magic $8 million mark in 2017 while his cap number is credible $4 million.
Of course, under this contract scenario Poe will likely never see 2018 with the same team because next year he gets a base salary of $7.75 million plus another $25,000 workout bonus. His scheduled pay is the same at $8 million but because his cap number shoots up to $11.50 million due the million prorated portion of the signing bonus plus the base salary, the Dolphins would dump him as sure as you take out garbage.
And why would Poe do this?
Well, once Tannenbaum is done repeating how Florida has no state income tax for the fifth time, he tells Poe he gets another bite at free agency in 2018. “That’s a great opportunity for you, Dontari!” Tannenbaum could exclaim.
Or, Tannenbaum adds, if Poe plays really, really well this year -- something he did not do in 2016, by the way -- maybe he can stay on the deal his signs or the Dolphins could extend him. (It’s a strategic sales job, folks.)
That is the only scenario under which the Dolphins add Dontari Poe this week. Or any week. They give him a two-year $16 million contract that is really a one-year $8 million deal that costs them $4 million against the cap this year and $3.5 million in dead money next year when Poe is cut.
Here’s another option: Why haven’t the Dolphins thought about Johnathan Hankins?
If you’re not familiar, he’s a free agent defensive tackle who started 16 games for the New York Giants last year. Unlike the Dolphins (30th in the NFL against the run) and Kansas City where Poe played (26th versus the run), the Giants actually were good at stopping the run last season. The Giants were tied with New England for third in the NFL against the run.
And Hankins was a good part of that.
Indeed, he played better than Poe, which is mind-numbing because everyone has this Poe, Poe, Poe obsession.
I’m not saying I’d pay Hankins $8 million per season, either. But I’d offer him the contract I outlined above before I would even pay for a Poe plane ticket.
The Giants, by the way, haven’t re-signed Hankins because they’re watching their cap pennies these days. Hankins hasn’t gone on two or three previous free agency recruiting trips that have been reported. That suggests there is no significant bidding to compete against.
Johnathan Hankins > Dontari Poe assuming Hankins doesn’t bury people he’s killed as a hobby or something crazy like that.
Johnathan Hankins ... Wouldn’t be surprised if that name begins to circulate if/when Poe leaves.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter @ArmandoSalguero