A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Friday:
▪ One NFL official in touch with the Dolphins said he wouldn’t be at all surprised if Miami tries to trade up in the draft, based on what he has heard.
And we mention that not because we necessarily expect it to happen (after all, a lot of teams try to trade up and the price is steep), but because there is one under-the-radar reason the Dolphins stand a better chance of moving up a few spots if they choose to pursue this path.
As one NFL person mentioned to me this week, Miami’s pick at No. 11 is potentially attractive to teams in the second half of the top 10 for this reason:
By rule, the player picked at No. 11 will be paid substantially less in a fifth-year team option than players selected in the top 10. The cap hit also will be lower than top 10 picks.
For players selected in the top 10, the value of the fifth-year team option is equal to the position tag tender of that player, which is the average of the 10 highest-paid players at that position.
But for picks 11 through 32 in the first round, the fifth-year salary on an exercised team option is calculated using the average of the third- through 25th-highest salaried players at the position the player plays, as noted in Jason Fitzgerald’s and Vijay Natarajan’s NFL salary cap book, “Crunching Numbers.”
So will a team picking eighth trade that pick to the Dolphins for No. 11 simply for this reason? Of course not. Miami would need to offer something else enticing besides the 11th pick.
But because of this nuance in the NFL’s pay structure, the 11th pick has more value that it might appear. Keep that in mind if Miami targets a slightly higher pick on draft night or in the days before.
▪ We have documented the Dolphins’ strong interest in quarterback Baker Mayfield; he not only will have dinner with Dolphins officials next Tuesday in Norman, Oklahoma, but also will do a private workout for them on campus at some point after Oklahoma’s March 14 Pro Day, according to SI.com.
According to Robert Klemko’s SI.com piece this week, “Mayfield says he clicked really well with Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, and with the Broncos staff as well. Miami, Denver and New Orleans were among a handful of teams that structured the meeting as follows. First, a coach diagrams a play on a white board. He runs down the protection, the routes, the progressions, how to attack a defense in Cover 2, Cover 3 and man.”
It remains questionable whether Mayfield will be available at No. 11, though ESPN’s Todd McShay believes he will be.
▪ With regard to a veteran backup quarterback, keep this in mind: A bunch of teams need starting quarterbacks — the Dolphins aren’t among them — and only two of them will get top free agents Kirk Cousins and Case Keenum.
That means the price for the next level of potential starters — A.J. McCarron, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and perhaps Josh McCown — likely will rise to levels beyond what teams needing a reliable backup (like the Dolphins) might be able to afford. And those three players will be looking for starting opportunities. So drafting a backup might make more sense.
▪ We’re told Robert Quinn is thrilled with his trade from the Rams to the Dolphins and looking forward to returning to his 4-3 defensive end position after a year at linebacker.
The Dolphins haven’t told him if they will ask him to extend or restructure a contract paying him $10.3 million in 2018 and $11.8 million in 2019 and those conversations cannot legally take place until completion of the trade, perhaps on March 14.
CBS Network analyst Bart Scott, at Jason Taylor’s golf tournament this week, said Quinn is actually “cheap” by today’s standards as a 27-year-old high-level pass rusher.
▪ The Seattle Seahawks are reportedly releasing cornerback Richard Sherman, and keep in mind that Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum likes him and inquired about acquiring him in the past.
Sherman, 29, wants good money, has had surgery on both Achilles and the Dolphins don’t seem in position to spend a lot at cornerback — where they have four competent young players.
But Sherman can still play; Pro Football Focus ranked Sherman’s performance 33rd of 121 qualifying cornerbacks last season. His interception totals over the past three seasons: two, four and two.
With Tannenbaum here, Sherman can’t be ruled out.
Before the Sherman news broke, former Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison made the case that the Dolphins are fine at cornerback with Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley, Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain.
“I wasn’t completely comfortable with the slot [McCain] at the beginning of the year; it wasn’t played the way I would want, but it’s functional now,” Madison said at Taylor’s golf tournament. “We saw playmaking from Xavien Howard, like at Baylor. Tankersley tackles, is physical, can run, and Lippett will push him. I see Lippett challenging Tankersley. Everybody in that group is still hungry. I’m fine with that group. But you always need more corners.”
▪ The Dolphins want guard Isaac Asiata to be stronger and leaner heading into his second season. Asiata, a fifth-round pick last season, didn’t play a down as a rookie despite Miami’s need at guard.
One NFL official in touch with the Dolphins said though Asiata obviously will be given every opportunity to earn playing time, the Dolphins aren’t going into the offseason projecting him for a starting job.
By the way, Jesse Davis hasn’t been told if he’s playing guard or tackle, a decision that should become clearer in the next two weeks as Miami figures out what to do at right tackle.