Reshad Jones began 2016 hoping for more money.
He ended the year simply wishing he could play.
Jones, the Dolphins’ Pro Bowl safety, appeared in six games last season after suffering a significant rotator cuff injury in October.
Some three months after surgery, Jones is feeling much better.
“Every time I would see him, he’d tell me how he could play that game, which always kind of hurt me a little bit, because I’m thinking, ‘You’re pretty good. Don’t tell me that,’ ” Adam Gase told reporters Wednesday.
Still, Gase wouldn’t commit to Jones being ready for the start of organized team activities in a few months. But if he doesn’t get a new contract between now and then, Jones might not be there anyway.
He skipped all of the team’s voluntary spring workouts and the first day of mandatory minicamp last year to send a message: he wants a new deal. He never got it.
In a way, his shoulder injury justified his holdout. Jones knew injuries can derail any career, and so he wanted to cash in while his stock was at its highest. It didn’t happen, and last year he played in his fewest games as a pro.
Jones ended his boycott on Day 2 of minicamp, saying at the time: “I feel confident that the organization and my agent will work something out.”
They haven’t yet, although Mike Tannenbaum could be more motivated to get a deal done now, assuming Jones makes a full recovery. Jones, who will earn $7 million in base salary in 2017, is set to become a free agent in 14 months. Early this week, Tannenbaum said the Dolphins “want to take care of our own;” Jones and Jarvis Landry would presumably the top that list.
What’s unknown: How much Jones’ injury hurt his earning potential, if at all.
But if he was salty over the events of the past year, he kept quiet about it.
“I was so impressed with how he helped lead our guys even though he wasn’t playing,” Gase said. “He stood next to me before every game and he was such a lightning rod for energy for our guys. He tried to help our young players as much as he possibly could. It was great for me to see a guy that it hurt him so bad to not be out there with everybody. But those guys, they felt his positive energy every week on the sideline.”
Gase continued: “He was always out at practice and making sure guys were competing and giving it everything they had. Guys respect him so much. He’s such a good player. Seeing him develop as a leader, that was something that was very impressive to see a guy from … It could have been rocky for him and myself and neither one of us let that happen. We put that spring aside and we developed a great relationship. He has been a guy that I’ve really enjoyed being around this season.”