The window for applying the franchise or transition tag opened 13 days ago. It closes Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET. The Dolphins haven’t officially decided whether to tag defensive end Olivier Vernon.
Per a league source, the Dolphins plan to sleep on it one more night, taking full advantage of the tag deadline. Which makes sense, since it’s a deadline-driven business.
Vernon would make $15.701 million under the franchise tag, and $12.734 million under the transition tag. The Dolphins would be entitled to compensation in the form of two first-round picks only if the franchise tag is applied; under the transition tag, they’d receive a right to match an offer sheet signed by Vernon elsewhere.
It’s been suggested that Vernon could be tagged and traded, a phenomenon that hasn’t been used much in recent years. Not only would the new team have to give Vernon a significant long-term deal, but it also would have to give the Dolphins sufficient compensation to persuade them to part ways with him.
In 2009, the Patriots traded franchise-tagged quarterback Matt Cassel to the Chiefs. A year earlier, the Vikings acquired franchise-tagged defensive end Jared Allen from Kansas City. No franchise-tagged players have been traded since then.
A third-round pick from the University of Miami in 2012, Vernon has played in all 64 career games with the Dolphins. He racked up 11.5 sacks in 2013, and 7.5 in his contract year.
Regardless, he’s one of the best available free-agent pass rushers in 2016, which means that if he hits the open market someone with plenty of cash and cap space will likely make a big push for him in the early, drunken-sailor-spending days of the signing period. Whether he’ll get a shot at the open market will become more clear by Tuesday afternoon.