For the second year in a row, the Miami Dolphins failed to make a firm decision on their best in-house free agent. And, for the second year in a row, the team remains in danger of losing a quality player.
Miami will use the transition tag on starting defensive end Olivier Vernon on Tuesday. The one-year tag is worth $12.734 million. Teams are still able to make long-term offers for Vernon in free agency, and the Dolphins will have the right to match.
Miami had nearly two months to reach a conclusion and had several more decisive options at its disposal. The Dolphins could have used the franchise tag worth $15.701 million to ensure Vernon stays with the team for 2016. They could have signed Vernon to a multiyear extension if they believe he's a part of the team's foundation. They also could have let Vernon walk in free agency if they wanted to save the cap room and go in another direction at defensive end.
Instead, Miami is letting other teams set the market for Vernon. Its final choice shows indecisiveness on a player it drafted four years ago and knows better than any other team.
Do the Dolphins want to pay the price that it takes to keep Vernon or not?
Last year, the Dolphins also were wishy-washy on tight end Charles Clay and similarly used the transition tag. The Buffalo Bills, a division rival, swooped in with a strong offer that Miami failed to match.
Expect Vernon, 25, to still get interest from other teams. He led Miami with 7.5 sacks in 2015 and made 61 tackles.
Tuesday's transition tag makes you wonder if history will repeat itself with the Dolphins' top free agent.