Miami Dolphins fans were active on social media Wednesday morning advocating their team get involved in the chase for free agent cornerback Joe Haden.
Dolphins players Mike Pouncey and Ndamukong Suh -- leaders on offense and defense -- posted photos of Haden on their Instagram accounts. It is a clear sign they support Haden. It is a clear sign they want Haden on the Dolphins.
The Dolphins have seen all this. They see what you see, what their players see.
The Dolphins are involved in the chase for Joe Haden.
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But it’s not quite how you think.
The team spent time in recent days studying Haden. Miami has a need at cornerback made acute by the loss of Tony Lippett to a season-ending Achilles’ tear and a sudden decline in performance by Byron Maxwell.
But the Dolphins had no interest in trading for Haden, which would have forced them to not only take on an enormous contract but also give up trade compensation for the 5-11 cornerback.
The Dolphins would like Haden but at some sort of bargain situation. Or perhaps even at some sort of trial situation.
Haden, 28, has $4 million guarantee coming to him from the Cleveland Browns. The Dolphins, as well as other teams, know this. And the team might like to somehow use this as a way of getting Haden to Miami without having an onerous affect on the salary cap.
That might involve any number of options, one of which is signing Haden to a one-year deal for the minimum. The new team would pay that minimum and Cleveland would be required to pay the rest to get Haden to $4 million.
Haden and his agent Drew Rosenhaus are probably aiming much higher. They probably want a long-term contract that pays Haden like a top NFL cornerback. Haden was averaging $13.5 million per season on his Cleveland contract.
If that is what one team wants to match, the chances of Haden coming to the Dolphins become negligible.
But if other teams are thinking similarly to Miami then the Dolphins offer other benefits some teams cannot.
First, Florida has no state income tax.
Secondly, Haden attended the University of Florida (along with Pouncey) so he obviously has ties to the state.
Thirdly, Rosenhaus is based in Miami and while that doesn’t mean he’s going to drive Haden to sign a contract with Miami, it’s no secret the agent likes having clients on the Dolphins.
Fourthly, there is a narrative that Haden is in decline and it is true the past two seasons he didn’t play up to the standards of his earlier seasons. ProFootballFocus grades show Haden performing at half his previous heights the past two seasons.
But Haden has been hampered by injuries during the last two seasons and is reportedly healthy now. And the Dolphins aren’t too concerned about PFF grades.
So the Dolphins can show a confidence in Haden to make him feel comfortable.
Haden is not subject to waivers and is free to sign with another team after 4 p.m. Wednesday.
ESPN reported other teams interested that might include Kansas City and New Orleans. NFL Network reported the Pittsburgh Steelers are interested. Cowboys Insider Mike Fisher reported the Dallas Cowboys are interested in Haden, “at the right price.”
Include the Miami Dolphins on that list of interested teams.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero