Monday, August 1, 2011
DE Jason Taylor rejoins Dolphins
MIAMI -- At the start of a news conference hailing Jason Taylor's return to the Miami Dolphins, he introduced himself as a third-round draft pick from Akron -- which he was in 1997.
Fourteen years later, Taylor seeks a few more sacks and that elusive first Super Bowl ring. He'll try for them in the uniform he has worn most of his career.
The NFL's active career sacks leader, who became a free agent when the New York Jets released him in March, signed Monday to rejoin the Dolphins.
"This is home," he said. "It fits. It's easy. It works."
Taylor, who turns 37 on Sept. 1, spent his first 11 seasons with the Dolphins and still lives in South Florida. He played for Washington in 2008, then rejoined the Dolphins in 2009, and last year he had hoped for an offer to remain in Miami.
But Taylor clashed with Dolphins football czar Bill Parcells and signed instead with their biggest rival, the Jets. Even then, he maintained a good relationship with Miami coach Tony Sparano.
Parcells' departure last season made Taylor's return possible.
"We can address the elephant in the room," Taylor said. "Do I honestly think I'd be here if Bill was here? No. It's as simple as that. I think it's very easy to see and figure out, and we'll leave it at that."
The Taylor-Dolphins reunion was announced on the Facebook page for his foundation. Hours later, he held a news conference at the team's stadium before an evening practice there, and he'll join workouts later this week.
Former Dolphins teammate Dan Marino tweeted, "Welcome back to Miami # 99."
Sparano said Taylor will provide locker-room leadership and be used primarily at outside linebacker in pass-rush situations, which was his role with the Jets. That means spelling second-year pro Koa Misi and lining up on the flank opposite Cameron Wake, who had a breakout season with 14 sacks last year.
Sparano said he had been mulling over bringing back Taylor for a while.
"This guy is a tremendous closer," Sparano said. "He makes plays at the end of games."
Miami terminated the contract of inside linebacker Tim Dobbins, a sixth-year pro who started six games last year.
When the NFL lockout ended last week, Taylor said, he spoke with the Jets first and then Miami. His desire to keep playing is driven in large part by wanting to reach the Super Bowl.
Last year he made the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and the Jets' loss to Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game left him fighting back tears.
Taylor was also disappointed to have only five sacks in 2010. That increased his career total to 132.5, which tied him with Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O'Neal for eighth on the career list. He played in all 16 games for the Jets, including five as a starter.
The six-time Pro Bowler holds Dolphins career records for sacks (124), opponents' fumble recoveries (27), fumble returns for touchdowns (6), defensive touchdowns (9) and interceptions by a defensive lineman (7). His best season was in 2006, when he was the NFL defensive player of the year.
Conveniently, the Dolphins' No. 99 was unassigned.