Dolphins chatter from conversations with several former standout players at Jason Taylor’s charity golf tournament Monday:
▪ Once Jarvis Landry is traded to a new team (which remains the objective of the Dolphins and Landry), then this will be true: None of their three best second-, third- or fourth-round draft picks between 2012 and 2015 will have stuck around for a second contract with the team.
Taken individually, those decisions can be justified.
The Dolphins didn’t want to pay Lamar Miller the type of money Houston paid him (four years, $26 million), knowing that running backs can be replaced pretty easily.
The Dolphins didn’t want to pay Olivier Vernon the enormous money the Giants paid him (five years, $85 million, $52.5 million guaranteed) because they believed that wasn’t a prudent investment for a player who is good but not an All-Pro.
And the Dolphins don’t believe it’s worth making a four-year investment in Landry at $15 million per season.
But while the decisions can be rationalized individually, it doesn’t seem like a successful blueprint to routinely walk away from your best second-, third- and fourth-round choices after their rookie contracts end.
Former receiver O.J. McDuffie said this trend must stop.
“I wish they would [give those draft picks second contracts],” he said. “There’s a lot of money out there. You want to hang onto your core guys and work around that.”
Because new head coaches often want their own guys, McDuffie said: “Every time there’s a new head coach here, it becomes more difficult. Our turnover at head coach has been one of the bigger problems. Adam Gase is going to be there for a while I hope, and Adam is going to be able to keep his draft picks a lot longer.”
▪ Count McDuffie among those who believes the Dolphins are making a mistake by potentially moving on from Landry.
“Slot receiver is becoming a real important position,” he said. “It’s become more important than it has ever been. Just the intangibles with Juice as well, what he brings to the table. Not just catches and first downs, but his energy and things like that are positive. Juice has shown he’s that guy that deserves a hefty contract. I hope they do right by him.
“I would make the commitment to him. We count on him week in and week out. He shows up every week, and those are the guys you really want to take care of. [His passion] hurts sometimes, but I love the passion. I wish other guys would get on board with it. You’ve got to play this game with some emotion. Sometimes it’s over the top, but you have to have a little toughness about you and bravado about the way you go about your things. [Defensive players] try to push us little guys around. You can’t allow them to push you around. That’s how Jarvis plays the game.”
But former Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison said Landry isn’t worth the kind of money he’s seeking in a multiyear deal.
“Even with the number of catches, the production is not there for me,” Madison said. “It’s hard to pay that when I’m not getting explosive plays. And he wouldn’t have those catches if they had a [good] tight end. If they had a tight end, you wouldn’t get that type of production.”
▪ Taylor, who is doing broadcasting for CBS Radio/Westwood One and NFL Network and coaching defensive linemen at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, likes Miami’s pickup of defensive end Robert Quinn.
“I love Quinn as a player,” Taylor said. “He’s a top talent, one of the top 20 [defensive ends] for sure. You can never have enough pass rushers. In this day and age, with the way the ball is thrown, the pace of the game, you’ve got to be able to roll guys in.
“I look back at my 13 years. I probably played eight or nine years where I played every snap, and you can’t do that anymore. I know how tired I was in the fourth quarter sometimes. You have to have guys that you can platoon in and keep pressure on people. Cam Wake is one of the best out there, I think. Andre Branch is a good player and is going to have a big year. You can never have enough of them.”
▪ Taylor hopes to spend more time with defensive end Charles Harris this offseason, as he did last July.
“We have not gotten together yet this offseason but it’s the beginning of March,” Taylor said. “We will get back in the grind, and I’m sure I’ll be out there with him. It takes time for guys to figure it out sometimes.
“Some guys come into the league and flash early but eventually have to figure out alternative moves and counters. He’s learning the game. I’ve spoken with Adam about him quite a bit and they’re very happy with him with where he’s at. The light bulb is going to go off at some point, and I think everyone is going to be pleased with what they’ve got. He works his butt off. He wants to be good and he will be.”
• Asked if he would like a job similar to the one held by Dan Marino — who is a very involved Dolphins special assistant — or if he would like to pursue a job in NFL coaching, Taylor said:
“I always think about it. I am really enjoying coaching at St. Thomas. High school level is not what people think. It’s full time over there. I would love a role like Marino. I am not banging their door down trying to apply for a job. I hope Adam knows how much I think of him, and Mike Tannenbaum I have history with in New York and I have the utmost respect for he and [general manager] Chris Grier. [Team president and vice chairman] Tom [Garfinkel] is one of my favorites. I love Tom to death. If there’s ever anything there for me, I’m 100 percent in. I have time. I will be around. I try to stay out of the way until I’m asked.”
Taylor, incidentally, continues to do wonderful work raising money for important charities. His golf tournament and his other philanthropic events have raised more than $7 million over the years.
▪ Former Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, who just began a new career working in wealth management in Atlanta, said it’s a shame the Dolphins couldn’t make it work with Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake sharing the load.
“They complemented each other really well,” Brown said. “Ajayi gets tough yards between the tackles. Drake is more explosive, more fluid in the passing game. I announced that [Drake] pick at the draft. He’s an Alabama guy, I’m an Auburn guy.”