From the moment the Dolphins swung open the doors to their locker room and allowed multiple players to speak out in defense of suspended guard Richie Incognito in November, it was clear that tackle Jonathan Martin would not be able to return to the team as then constituted.
But now that the Dolphins approach the point at which they’ll have to decide whether to release or trade Martin, they’re possibly doing the only thing that can help generate trade value: They’re privately suggesting that Martin could return.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network recently reported it’s “not impossible” that Martin will return to the team. While that standard is loose and fluid and far from absolute, it’s more conducive to pulling off a trade than if the Dolphins were to admit there’s no way Martin will return.
If the Dolphins don’t have the “screw it, we’ll just keep him” club in their bag, it would be nearly impossible to trade him. Unless two or more teams are boxing out for the ability to trade for the balance of Martin’s second-round contract, which pays a base salary of $824,933 in 2014 and $1.042 million in 2015, any team interested in Martin can reject a trade demand from the Dolphins by pointing out that there’s no way they’re going to bring him back.
As Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald recently pointed out, the team’s better play would be to cut him. With the Scouting Combine looming — and with the Dolphins apparently trying to sell to other teams the notion that he could return to Miami — the next two weeks could provide the best chance to find out whether there will be a trade market.
Of course, the contents of Ted Wells report could play a big role in the willingness (or lack thereof) of another team to acquire Martin. Teammate Richie Incognito, who has said he completely supports Martin return to the NFL, likewise did Martin no favors by disclosing on Twitter that Incognito’s good friend shared suicidal thoughts with Incogito in May 2013.
With friends like Richie, who needs bullies?