Adam Gase remains uncharacteristically tight-lipped about when — or even if — Lawrence Timmons will return to the Dolphins. But occasionally, he drops a few breadcrumbs.
Gase did so Wednesday, when speaking broadly, he said players who break trust “can be forgiven if the right steps are taken.” (The subtext: There is a path back for Timmons if he does all the right things).
And he did so again Thursday, when he told reporters that executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum is taking the lead on the matter.
“I haven't made any decision,” Gase said. “I'm going one day at a time right now. I know there are steps being made with what's going on with him. Mike's really taking the lead on that. I'm getting updates as we go. My biggest thing is, my sole focus this week is guys that are here. I'm focused on the Jets, making sure that we're ready to go.
Gase added: “These weeks come quick. There's more down time on Friday/Saturday, to where if I need to look at something, research something, talk to somebody. It's better for me to do towards the end of the week than right now.”
If Timmons getting his indefinite suspension lifted was simply a matter of him proving to his coach that he can be trusted, there would be little reason for Tannenbaum to be involved. It would be between Timmons, Gase, and perhaps defensive coordinator Matt Burke.
But Tannenbaum handles pretty much every aspect of the organization outside the lines, including contract negotiations.
Tannenbaum was the one who offered Timmons a two-year, $12 million rich in guarantees. Perhaps a condition of Timmons returning would be to give some of that money back, or vastly reducing the guaranteed money. There is a belief in league circles that the suspension alone would be enough to erase 2018 guarantees, but perhaps the Dolphins want even more than that. Timmons is owed $5.5 million in base salary next year, all but a million of which is guaranteed.
Burke, meanwhile, told reporters that he had to revise his game plan late Saturday night after Timmons went missing. And yet, he suggested Thursday that he’s willing to give his AWOL linebacker a second chance.
“Obviously, there was a level of concern [when Timmons went missing],” Burke said. “We care for all of our players deeply. We're around them a lot. We went through a lot of stuff, obviously. We were concerned for him. I know Adam wants to sort of keep all the details in-house. I'll be there for him whenever Adam decides he's back on the team.”