The trade talk began early Monday and picked up steam. NFL Network first reported the Dolphins’ interest in Maxwell, a high-priced defensive back who didn’t live up to expectations in Philadelphia.
And then hours later, ESPN revealed that Alonso, whom the Eagles acquired in a trade last offseason, is part of the potential deal. Alonso, 25, is two years removed from ACL surgery, but had 159 tackles and four interceptions in a breakout rookie season.
The Miami Herald has since confirmed both reports. The terms of the trade have been agreed upon; the deal will be finalized once a new contract is ironed out with Maxwell, who is due $8.5 million this year and $10 million next in base salary. Alonso is due less than $1 million in the last year of his rookie contract.
Should a trade go down, Brent Grimes’ future in Miami surely dims. He also didn’t have his best season in 2015, and has a $9.5 million cap figure this year. Multiple news outlets reported that Grimes will likely be cut in the coming days.
Maxwell struggled after signing a mega-deal with the Eagles; Pro Football Focus ranked him No. 75 among all NFL corners in 2015. Opposing quarterbacks completed 65.4 percent of their throws against Maxwell and had a passer rating of 100.7 when targeting him last year.
Alonso missed all of 2014 after his knee injury, and wasn’t the impact player the Eagles hoped he would be in 2015. He had just 43 tackles and one interception, and his reconstructed knee suffered a setback.
Meanwhile, at noon Monday, teams began legally doing what they have been doing surreptitiously for weeks: Talk to pending free agents currently on other teams.
The league year doesn’t turn over until 4 p.m. Wednesday, so free-agents-to-be are still technically under contract until then.
But two days out, agents and all 32 teams are allowed to begin discussing the framework of contacts for those about to hit the open market.
That means Lamar Miller, Rishard Matthews and the eight other Dolphins players whose contracts expire Wednesday could begin to truly get a feel for their value.
The Dolphins’ No. 1 free agent, Olivier Vernon, will have to wait until Wednesday, however. Because Vernon was designated the Dolphins’ transition player, he has to wait until the new league year to speak with other teams.
The Dolphins have the right to match any offer Vernon gets, but given the level of interest in him, there’s a good chance someone will give Vernon more than Miami is willing to pay.
In fact, there’s a chance that the Dolphins will lose the highest-paid defensive end, running back and wide receiver in free agency.
Miller is looking for a contract in excess of $5 million annually, and someone might pay him that. The Dolphins had been in talks with Miller’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, for weeks, but have stalled in recent days.
Meanwhile, Matthews is most likely gone. He believes he’s good enough to be a clear-cut starter, and given the relatively weak crop of free agent receivers, someone will make him one. At best, he would be the No. 3 in Miami, behind Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker.
As for the list of free agents the Dolphins are expected to inquire about in the next 48 hours, it’s a long one.
Likely targets this week include Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey, Bengals safety George Iloka, 49ers guard Alex Boone, Rams defensive end William Hayes, Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey, Bears tight end Zach Miller, Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy and a handful of cornerbacks.
The Dolphins are also trying to restructure the contracts of tight end Jordan Cameron and defensive end Cameron Wake and are keeping tabs on former Bills pass rusher Mario Williams, who visited the team over the weekend.
As of Monday morning, they had roughly $20 million in cap space, but would get an additional $20 million more should they rescind Vernon’s transition tag and cut Grimes.