The Miami Dolphins have declined starting running back Ronnie Brown's option for 2010, making him a restricted free agent when the offseason begins March 5.
The option, which would add a sixth-year to Brown's deal and give him a base salary of $5 million in 2010, was written into Brown's contract to allow the parties to avoid restricted free agency should the league go into an uncapped year.
Due to the likely lack of an extension on the Collective Bargaining Agreement when the new league year begins in two days, players with four or five years of NFL service such as Brown will be restricted free agents rather than unrestricted free agents.
The Dolphin have reportedly placed a first-round tender on Brown, meaning any team that signs Brown in free agency will have to give Miami their 2010 first-round pick in return.
If no other team signs Brown and he instead signs his tender offer from the Dolphins, he will receive a one-year contract worth roughly $3.97 million.
The move makes sense for the Dolphins, as there really is no bad outcome for the organization.
On one hand, Brown could re-sign with the team, and make just under $4 million, as opposed to the $5 million he would have received from the option in his original contract.
If Brown is signed by another team, Miami receives a first-round pick, and is probably ecstatic about it. The Dolphins would probably love to get another first-rounder for a 28-year-old running back a year away from free agency with some recent injury problems.
I don't expect Brown to be picked up by another team at this level, but you have to think a running back hungry team built to win now, like say, San Diego, might at least entertain the idea.
Fasano also tendered
One of the Dolphins' other two restricted free agents—starting tight end Anthony Fasano—has also been tendered by the team at the "original-pick" level.
This means any team that signs Fasano must give up their 2010 draft pick from the round in which the player was originally drafted—in this case, the second round.
By tendering him at the low "original-pick" level as opposed to the second-round tender (which can be applied to any player regardless of where they were drafted), the Dolphins save roughly $600,000 in salary that would be owed to Fasano in 2010.
There is still no word on whether or not outside linebacker Quentin Moses—the team's third and final restricted free agent—has or will be tendered an offer. If he is not, he will become an unrestricted free agent on March 5.
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