For the second straight year, the Dolphins are using the transition tag. The question now becomes whether, for the second straight year, the move results in the tagged player changing teams.
Last year, it was tight end Charles Clay, who signed an offer sheet with the Bills that the Dolphins didn’t match. This year, per a team source, it’s defensive end Olivier Vernon.
For defensive ends, the difference between the transition tag and the franchise tag is nearly $3 million in 2016 guaranteed salary. It becomes an even more significant difference on a long-term deal driven by the tag.
If Vernon signs the tender, he’ll be entitled to $12.734 million fully guaranteed in 2016.
Vernon’s deal could be driven not by the tag but by the market, with Miami holding the right to match, but no compensation. It’s an invitation, as it was a year ago, for another team to load up the cannon and concoct an offer sheet that Miami can’t or won’t match.
If another team signs Vernon to an offer sheet, Miami will have five days to make a decision. With precious few pass rushers on the market and with teams like the Raiders and Jaguars flush with cap space, the Dolphins could end up seeing Vernon get an offer than Miami will have to refuse to meet.