Dolphins have backup plan for Reshad Jones holdout

Dec 27, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins strong safety Reshad Jones (20) is introduced before a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Sun Life Stadium. The Colts won 18-12. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins strong safety Reshad Jones (20) is introduced before a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Sun Life Stadium. The Colts won 18-12. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Miami Dolphins safety Reshad Jones is continuing his holdout for a new contract. The Dolphins are not budging, however, and plan to look at free agents Antrel Rolle and Louis Delmas if Jones chooses to sit out.

Reshad Jones is just two years removed from an extension he signed with Miami back in 2014. That hasn’t stopped him, however, from requesting a new contract and he’s apparently willing to sit out Miami’s mandatory minicamp to get one. With still two years left on the deal and Jones due $7.2 million this season and $7.1 million in the next, the Dolphins are not yet ready to pay Jones additional money. He’s already one of the highest paid safeties and the highest paid strong safety in the NFL.

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The Dolphins would like nothing more than for Jones to return to the team and participate in minicamp but Jones has hinted he’s willing to sit out the season to get what he wants. Not willing to budge from their current situation, the Dolphins are looking at two free agents to potentially replace Jones in 2016. Those free agents are Antrel Rolle and Louis Delmas, two players very familiar with playing in South Florida.

Antrel Rolle is a former University of Miami standout, who was released by the Chicago Bears this off-season in order to free up cap room. In typical Hurricanes fashion, Rolle was drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, selected by the Arizona Cardinals. In 2010, he was signed by the New York Giants to a five-year, $37 million contract, making him one of the highest paid safeties in the NFL at that time. He then signed a three-year deal with the Bears last season but Rolle played in only seven games in the first year of the deal after the Bears put Rolle on injured reserve with a sprained right knee. His injuries and the opportunity to free up cap space led to his release.

Rolle is a three-time Pro Bowler but at the age of 33 is coming towards the end of his career. In his seven games as a Bear, he recorded 35 tackles, no interceptions, and a pass deflection. Pro Football Focus ranked him 39th out of 89 qualifying players in 2015. Rolle has been linked to the Dolphins in the past during free agency and, of course, Miami would have preferred Rolle while in his prime but he could still help out in the Dolphins secondary.

Louis Delmas, on the other hand, is just 29 but injuries have plagued him throughout his career. He signed a one-year deal with Miami back in 2014 and had a successful season until a torn ACL late in the season caused him to miss the final three games. The Dolphins re-signed Delmas prior to the 2015 season but he suffered from another torn ACL in a joint practice with the Carolina Panthers. The injury caused him to miss the entire season.

As mentioned, the Dolphins would love for Jones to end his holdout and return for the teams’ minicamp. He missed all of the teams’ OTAs and now starts the process of receiving fines should he miss Miami’s mandatory minicamp. The Dolphins are right though in their stance to not give into Jones’ demands. He may have been one of the lone bright spots on a disappointing Dolphins defense in 2015 that saw him named to his first Pro Bowl but Jones has no leverage in the situation. Just two years removed from his extension with still two years remaining on the deal, Jones needs to suck it up and just show up.

Jones may be pointing to the deal Harrison Smith received from the Minnesota Vikings that makes Smith the highest paid safety in the NFL to this point as a part of his argument. However, Jones would be wise to be more patient. Smith will not be the highest paid safety for long and Jones has the opportunity to add another Pro Bowl appearance to his resume in 2016 that would only increase his value. Sitting out a season in the prime of his career is not a smart decision, regardless of how much he thinks he is worth.

The Dolphins have approximately $18 million left in cap space to spend in 2016 should they choose. Should Jones elect to return to the team in time, Miami could still use that money to sign Rolle or Delmas in case of injuries or to add depth. In the meantime, the Dolphins coaches are preparing themselves without Jones. They can only coach the players that show up. Hopefully, Jones decides to end his holdout and return to the club soon. If he has another season like he did last year, then he can expect to see an extended contract much more to his liking.