Training camp practices begin Thursday morning with no obvious drama for the Miami Dolphins.
The 2018 Dolphins are basically a healthy team, which removes one possible crisis from the start of camp. Indeed, a league source said Wednesday that wide receiver Leonte Carroo, who missed minicamp and the latter part of OTAs because he had a minor knee surgery, passed his physical on Wednesday and will not begin camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) or non-football injury list (NFI).
It gets better: I’m told that barring a last minute surprise, no other Miami player is nursing a significant injury that would hamper him in camp. Granted, this information came before the team’s conditioning test and full physicals but at least we know no player walked into one of those Wednesday with a known problem.
That’s good news for the Dolphins.
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Beyond that, the Dolphins are not tip-toeing any significant contract controversy. While other teams, such as the Rams, Falcons, and Seahawks are managing players unhappy with their contract situations or dealing with holdouts, that is not the case in Miami.
The only three players who might have come to camp with a contract beef don’t have one for various reasons, according to sources.
Receiver DeVante Parker, who was drafted in 2015 and whose deal was scheduled to expire after this year, was locked up for 2019 when the team picked up his fifth-year option in the offseason. That option for $9.38 million means Parker’s rights belong to the Dolphins for 2019 and the money is guaranteed for injury.
So Parker cannot be concerned about his immediate future.
If Parker is on the roster the first day of the 2019 league year, the money becomes fully guaranteed.
Parker is not getting a new contract this year unless he goes bonkers the first three months of the season and the Dolphins become convinced he’s their No. 1 receiver for the next five years. Barring that, nothing will happen this season.
Starting defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, also drafted in 2015, is in the final year of his contract. And usually a starter gets paid by the team before the start of his final contract year in an effort to keep the player happy and locked up longterm.
But a source familiar with the Dolphins’ thinking tells me the team and Phillips have agreed no contract extension will be done this year. Phillips will play for his scheduled $1.03 million (costing $1.38 million on the salary cap) and become a free agent after the season.
Obviously, if Phillips somehow becomes Aaron Donald, the Dolphins might try to lock him later this season. But otherwise, Phillips knows he’s playing for a big payday after this season -- be it with Miami or another team.
And the both sides are comfortable with that, I’m told.
The other candidate for being unhappy with his contract situation would have been nickel cornerback Bobby McCain, who was also drafted in 2015 and clearly outplayed his fifth-round draft status.
But the Dolphins addressed that issue June 2 when they signed McCain to a four-year, $27 million deal through 2022. So McCain is a happy camper.
What does this all mean?
The Dolphins are expected to be all about football at the start of this camp. Coach Adam Gase, general manager Chris Grier and executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum don’t immediately have to maneuver minefields about contract talks or injuries.
The narrative should be, at least initially, about football.
Compare that to a year ago. At the start of camp in 2017, one of the stories that dominated was whether or not Jarvis Landry was going to get a contract extension, why he hadn’t gotten one already, and how that would affect the volatile player.
Landry publicly handled the issue with grace. But it was an issue behind the scenes.
I am not saying having players unhappy with their contracts in July is a season killer. It’s not. But it’s uncomfortable. It sows discontent.
The Dolphins are steering clear of that to start this camp. That really is a good thing.
If you missed it, here’s a link to my column that ran in Thursday’s morning newspaper off my interview with coach Adam Gase: Mando column.