NFL Nation: safety

The Miami Dolphins continued their trend of handing out big contract extensions this week. Miami signed starting safety Reshad Jones to a four-year, $30 million extension. Jones now is under contract through the 2017 season.

Miami spent more than $200 million in total contracts this offseason. However, Jones initially was not one of those players the team rewarded. After some early tension, which included Jones considering a holdout, general manager Jeff Ireland stayed true to his word and eventually took care of Jones.

“We’ve been working on this since OTAs [organized team activities],” Jones explained Tuesday. “They said they would get it done, and like I said they went out and got it done. So that’s a thanks to [owner] Stephen Ross, Jeff Ireland, Coach [Joe] Philbin and this whole organization for making this possible.”

Now that Jones is financially secure, he can fully turn his attention to football. Jones had a career year in 2012 when he recorded 94 tackles, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and a sack. He was one of Miami’s few playmakers on defense last season.

This year Jones, 25, is thinking big. He’s already one of the top young safeties in the NFL. But Jones’ goal this year is to be mentioned among the very best at his position.

“The sky is the limit,” Jones said Tuesday. “I think I went out last year and demonstrated that I’m one of the elite safeties in this game. I just want to be consistent, continue to keep doing what I’m doing and be a leader on this team.”

The Dolphins could certainly use another big year from Jones. For the first time in years, Miami enters the season with a lot of preseason hype and playoff expectations.

Jones came to Miami as a fifth-round pick in 2010. But he quickly established himself with the Dolphins and became a full-time starter one year later. Once Jones was put in the starting lineup, it was clear that he was a keeper.

It’s rare that a fifth-round pick becomes one of the highest-paid players at his position after just three seasons. But Jones proved himself on the field and the Dolphins are showing confidence that his stellar play will continue.

“It feels even better, knowing that I had to work for it,” Jones said of his road to the big extension. “When you have to work for whatever it is, I think it’s more rewarding. So it feels good knowing that I went out, proved myself and I earned it, it wasn’t just given to me.”
The NFL Network wrapped up its annual list of the league’s top 100 players this week. It’s a popular project in which the players themselves, which is a good angle to take.

However, something really stood out from an AFC East perspective: Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller and safety Jairus Byrd were both snubbed, left out of the top 100 as chosen their peers. But Byrd has represented the AFC in the Pro Bowl twice in the past four years, while not everyone on that list is a Pro Bowler. Spiller rushed for 1,244 yards, six touchdowns and averaged 6.0 yards per carry in 2012. He's one of the league’s most dynamic running backs.

Here is the simplest explanation why Byrd and Spiller didn’t make the list: Both play for Buffalo.

Sometimes these votes can be a popularity contest, even among fellow athletes. Spiller and Byrd play for the lowly Bills, who currently have the NFL's longest playoff drought, at 13 years. It's clear Buffalo doesn’t have much respect around the league -- and that's something the team has to earn by winning on the field. Byrd and Spiller were both guilty by Bills association.

But at least there is some reason for the Byrd and Spiller omissions. Perhaps the biggest snub from the NFL Network’s top 100 is New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. There is no explanation for him not being on the list.




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