The timing of the Dolphins signing Kiko Alonso to a four-year deal worth $28.8 million on the same day free agent Zach Brown visited and left the team without signing a contract raises an obvious question ...
Does the Alonso contract mean the Dolphins cannot or will not sign Brown?
No. The two are not related.
The Dolphins want both players.
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The Dolphins didn’t sign Brown, per sources familiar with the visit, because the linebacker and his new representation agency is hoping to get a multi-year deal that pays the player market value for a good NFL linebacker. And even though the linebacker market is depressed this year, that means around $5-$6 million per year on average.
The Dolphins are nowhere in the ballpark. Think $3-$4 million per year.
That means if Brown, who is scheduled to visit Buffalo’s new coaching staff and has garnered interest elsewhere, lowers his expectations, he can circle back to the Dolphins if he wants.
Some nuggets (as Barry Jackson would say) about Brown, Alonso, the Dolphins, and the linebacker situation and other things:
1. Brown, a Pro Bowl selection, is stuck in a market where, again, linebackers are not getting paid.
Indeed, of the top four 4-3 linebacker contracts this offseason, the Dolphins did two of them -- with Alonso, who is going to average $7.2 million per season over the life of his deal through the 2020 season, and with Lawrence Timmons who gets $12 million over two years, meaning a $6 million per year average.
Alonso’s deal falls behind only Dont’a Hightower’s four-year, $35.5 million deal with the Patriots that averages $8.875 million per season. Timmons’s deal of $12 million over two years (team can get out after one year), is tied for third highest 4-3 linebacker deal this offseason with A.J. Klein’s Carolina deal -- or $6 million per season.
Interestingly, Timmons got $11 million totally guaranteed for two years. Klein got $9.4 million totally guaranteed on a four-year deal. So Timmons seems to have gotten a better deal.
This means the Dolphins are spending on linebackers this offseason.
They could not justify adding Brown at another $6 million per season, right?
It’s hard. It really is.
But, um, I would do it.
And I’d do it using a concept known to some of us who do not make millions of dollars per year: It’s called floating.
Look, sometimes you make an online payment on Thursday to avoid a late fee, knowing you don’t have all the funds necessary in your account to cover the payment but also knowing you’re getting paid Friday. So come Friday, the funds pop in via direct deposit, bill is paid. You didn’t get tagged with a late payment fee. All good.
Well, the Dolphins want to pay Brown maybe $3 million on average and he wants, say $6 million. So pay the dude that, add him to the roster now so you’re not committed to drafting a linebacker in the second or third round out of need and hoping the rookie can start right away.
And where are the excess dollars that the Dolphins didn’t budget for Brown coming from? They’re coming in May when Fake GM Mando whacks Koa Misi and gets the ensuing $4.2 million cap savings. Now, the Dolphins are currently not committed to cutting Misi. They’re committed to trimming his salary if he’s healthy and can play.
I am not the Dolphins. I am committed to not having an injury-prone player coming off a neck surgery, for God’s sake, on the roster at any price. Misi would have to pay me to be on my team because I don’t care how professional he is, how good for the locker room he is, what a thumper he is, how cheap he is. I care that his history screams that he’s going to be hurt at some point in 2017 because he was hurt in 2016. And 2015. And 2014.
And ... Nick Saban said past performance is the best predictor of future performance.
Injured guys, you should know, come in for their rehab in the morning and are generally not seen the rest of the day and definitely not on game days. What good is Misi’s locker room cred then?
So I float the cap space from that looming Misi cut that I make -- me, not the Dolphins -- and get Brown.
(By the way, I already got a cease and desist order on writing that I want Misi cut when I wrote it a couple of weeks ago. But I cannot stay silent on this. I plan for his departure the second he’s deemed healthy again in early May. Love him, appreciate his hard work and long service. But bye. Considering him for a pay cut is a waste of time, in my opinion).
2. Now, I don’t want to give the impression I think Zach Brown is the answer to every problem the Dolphins have in their run defense. He is not. But he’s an upgrade.
That is what an offseason is about, no? Making the team better somehow?
Having said that, I feel the need to share that Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 200 yards or more three times during the 2016 season.
He did it one time against Pittsburgh.
He did it twice against Buffalo.
Yeah, Zach Brown’s Buffalo.
3. You just read that Timmons got a pretty good deal from the Dolphins. They think he’s worth it.
And if you consider what he did in the playoffs and his injury history and his locker room history, he is.
In the playoffs, Timmons had 14 tackles and two sacks against the Dolphins on January 8.
No wonder they noticed him.
Two weeks later, the New England Patriots dismantled the Pittsburgh Steelers, 36-17 in a game where Pittsburgh obviously didn’t show up to play its best game. But Timmons showed up.
He had 14 tackles, including two tackles for loss against the Patriots that day.
Timmons is going to be 31 in May. But there is no questioning his durability ... unlike another linebacker I just got done writing about.
Timmons played all 16 regular season games in 2016. And he played all 16 regular season games in 2015. And 2014. And 2013. And 2012. And 2011. And 2010. Indeed, he has played 158 out of a 160 possible games during his career and every single game the past seven seasons.
Finally, a leader in the Dolphins locker room in 2017? I already know Timmons will be one because past performance is the best predictor of ... well, you know.
4. Count Alonso a favorite among the Dolphins coaching staff because he just wants to contribute somehow. The Dolphins were very attractive for him longterm because, yes, he loves the town’s Hispanic vibe. There’s that.
But Alonso also wanted some stability. Alonso, you see, is eager to see what he can do in 2017 and beyond because this will make the first time in his NFL career he plays in the same system two consecutive seasons.
He was very good for the Bills as a rookie in 2013. In 2014, he missed the entire season with a knee injury. He was traded to Philadelphia in 2015. And after one year in the Eagles system, he was traded to the Dolphins last season. He returns to that system in 2017.
“It just helps because the more reps you take in that same defense, the same terminology, you don’t have to start from square one learning the terminology and all the new stuff,” Alonso said. “So we definitely have a head start.”
Familiar system. Familiar surroundings. New big contract.
Alonso better ball.
5. The Dolphins still need to find a backup defensive tackle somewhere. Hey, about about another call to Giants free agent Johnathan Hankins?
The Dolphins have actually called him at least half a dozen times. Not exaggerating. And the story so far has not changed. He wants to get paid.
6. So you keep asking me about other names ...
You ask me about former Dolphins first-round pick Jared Odrick.
Stop asking. Odrick would like to return to Miami. But the Dolphins are not interested for multiple reasons.
Interestingly, the New England Patriots were interested. But apparently Odrick wasn’t interested in them.
The name Ricky Jean Francois popped into my head because the Redskins cut him last week ... and he’s from Miami ... and he owns something like two dozen Dunkin’ Donuts ... and I love donuts!
And Francois randomly followed me on twitter last week. And I thought, that must mean something.
But then he started taking free agent trips. He went to Seattle. And he’s in Green Bay Wednesday.
So when is he visiting the Dolphins?
I’m told he’s not. He’s apparently not a scheme fit for the Dolphins.
There goes my Dunkin’ Donuts hookup.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter if you’re offering free donuts: @ArmandoSalguero