The Miami Dolphins began their voluntary veteran's mini-camp on Tuesday, and four of the Dolphins defensive players were absent. Linebacker Koa Misi was reported ill, defensive end Mario Williams had a personal matter to handle, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was off doing his own thing...and safety Reshad Jones wants a new contract.
Jones, who was invited to his first Pro Bowl last season as an alternate, may be planning to sit out the Dolphins' offseason programs until an extension is reached and he's looking for a contract that will pay him $10-11 million a year, similar to the deals that safeties Eric Berry and Earl Thomas received, according to the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley.
The 28-year old safety had a career year in 2015, setting career records in tackles with 135, interceptions with 5, and defensive touchdowns with 2, as well as tying his career record in sacks with 2. As of now, Jones is in the third year of a 4-year, $28 million contract, which would pay him a base salary of $7.225 million for 2016 and $7.06 million for 2017.
Jones is already the highest paid strong safety in the NFL, now he's looking to be one of the highest paid safeties overall and he seems willing to sit out the entire offseason program to have a stare down with the organization until he gets the money he wants. Head coach Adam Gase seems unconcerned about missing out at this point in time.
“It’s voluntary. Every day I’m coming in this thing and when guys show up, we’re going to help them and we’re going to help them get better. But right now it’s a voluntary camp." Gase said. "It’s a voluntary program, so guys can come and go as they please.”
Of course, that won't necessarily be the case come June, when camps become mandatory and players can be fined for sitting out. Gase says he'll wait until then to address things if the issue remains.
“I’m not going to get upset about anything right now. It’s the first day of voluntary vet mini-camp. So we’ll see how everything goes once we get to June.”
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald pointed out that taking this stance now was a savvy veteran business move on Jones' part. With the team's lack of depth at the safety position, it becomes even more clear that the Dolphins need Jones, and with the performances he's put out on the field, he wants to be paid like the players whom he calls his peers and he has the leverage to get it.
This situation has an enormous effect on not just the short-term status of the Dolphins, but the long-term as well. Jones is one of the team's best players and he is one of the league's best safeties. If the Dolphins play hardball with Jones, he may want to go elsewhere, and there's sure to be a large market for a player of his caliber.
Miami could force Jones to play out the last two seasons of his contract and then let him go, or they could lock him up long-term and give in to his demands. General Manager Chris Grier will have to treat this as his first real test at his new position, as the decision he makes could have a huge impact on the future of the Dolphins defense.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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