With the deadline to place the franchise tag looming on Tuesday afternoon, a flurry of news should come in on players who will have their status changed heading into free agency. The obvious guys have already received the franchise tag for the most part (Von Miller, Alshon Jeffery, Muhammad Wilkerson), but one guy who was in a curious situation was Miami Dolphins defensive end Oliver Vernon.
Well it turns out Vernon won’t be receiving the franchise tag – instead he’s getting the transition tag according to Rand Getlin of NFL Network.
To me, this doesn’t mean much of anything in terms of his availability heading into free agency. The Dolphins are likely hoping the tag scares other teams off from taking the time and resources to put together a contract only to see the Dolphins match it, but Miami really isn’t operating from a position of leverage.
Unlike most teams right now in the league, the Dolphins are in a very precarious salary cap situation. They are paying a boatload of money to a defensive player (Ndamukong Suh), a luxury usually not afforded to teams also paying their quarterback.
Ultimately, a team is going to pay Olivier Vernon a significant amount – upwards of $15+ million dollars a year – and the Dolphins right now aren’t capable of matching such a deal. Teams will probably try and frontload the deal in such a way to hinder the Dolphins ability to match.
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Transitioning over the Jaguars (get it??), I don’t see this stopping general manager David Caldwell from pursuing the pass rusher if he covets Vernon. A few years ago we saw the Jaguars do basically the same thing with center Alex Mack, the main difference being the Cleveland Browns were in a more amenable cap situation and could match the deal with little consequence.
I’ll further cement the point by saying the Jaguars not only can pursue Vernon but they absolutely should. It behooves the Jaguars to try and fill as many needs as possible in free agency before the draft and Vernon fills perhaps the biggest one. He’s going to cost a lot, but the Jaguars can afford it and then some.