The new regime of the Miami Dolphins is serious about character in the team's locker room. That was the reason the team traded Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, and it’s the same reason the Dolphins released Chad Johnson on Sunday, about 24 hours after his arrest on a misdemeanor domestic-abuse charge.
The decision was a swift one. Johnson left jail Sunday morning and the Dolphins had had enough of this distraction by Sunday evening. Guilt or innocence has not been determined -- but it was clear the Dolphins were not willing to put up with the distraction that would have come with keeping Johnson around the next several weeks. Johnson is a 34-year-old receiver playing on a one-year contract. He already had little room for error.
By cutting Johnson, Miami’s new regime -- led by rookie head coach Joe Philbin -- sends a stern message that character matters. The Dolphins put up with Marshall's issues for years before trading him to the Chicago Bears this offseason. Johnson, who had his first legal run-in at the NFL level, was cut after one transgression.
This is another disappointing crash and burn for Johnson. He had the worst season of his career with the New England Patriots in 2011 and didn’t make it out of training camp with the Dolphins this year. Maybe someone else will give Johnson a chance if he's able to resolve his legal problems.
But Miami is moving on without Johnson. The Dolphins are rebuilding under a first-year head coach and need to set a tone that character issues will not be tolerated.
Consider that message delivered.