Why Jaguars, Raiders should offer Olivier Vernon serious money

The Dolphins placed the transition tag on DE Olivier Vernon today, meaning many teams could still make a bid for him.

| 9 months ago
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Why Jaguars, Raiders should offer Olivier Vernon serious money


The Miami Dolphins have placed the transition tag on DE Olivier Vernon, as it became clear the two sides would not be able to reach a long-term agreement in time for Tuesday’s deadline to tag players. The choice of using the transition tag is an interesting case, because it now allows other teams to offer Vernon a contract, which the Dolphins would have seven days to match.

While the one-year salary of the transition tag saves about $2.7 million from a franchise tag, it opens up a real possibility of not retaining the prized defensive end, and also for an Alex Mack-type contract that gives the player a lot of power.

The advantage of using the transition tag goes beyond the $2.7 million in savings. While Miami is strapped for cash in 2016, with just $8.9 million in cap space, it allows the Dolphins to see what Vernon’s true value is on the free agent market. As Sam Monson discussed earlier today, Vernon’s monstrous second half of 2016 is a big question mark. His level of play was similar to what we saw from Von Miller in the playoffs, but for essentially eight straight games. Can he sustain that level of success, or is he closer to the level of play similar to Jerry Hughes—a good player that can perform at an elite level for a game here and there.

The disadvantage of the transition tag is that they now have no way of controlling the type of contract Vernon will have. While the Dolphins probably won’t compete for a Super Bowl in 2016, replacing Vernon would be difficult this offseason. The draft is weak in edge defenders, and the Dolphins don’t have the cap space to pursue another free agent edge rusher. By not paying an extra $2.7 million, Miami is highly likely to lose Vernon this year, based on the small amount of cap space they have to work with.

The Jaguars and Raiders are two teams that should pursue signing Vernon. The Jaguars have the most cap space in the NFL, and would easily be able to work out a deal that would make it impossible for Miami to match. While they will see Dante Fowler return from a torn ACL that sidelined him for his rookie season, he is still an unknown commodity. The Jaguars had just three front-seven players grade positively in pass rushing, with LB Telvin Smith being the only starter to do so.

The Raiders are a team that have been on the right track with GM Reggie McKenzie running the team. He’s building through the draft while picking solid pieces in free agency. With Vernon pairing with Khalil Mack, the Raiders’ defense would be devastating on opposing offenses, akin to what the Broncos deploy in Miller and DeMarcus Ware. With $74.5 million in cap space, they also can write up a contract offer that would deter Miami from matching.

While there are several teams that could benefit from pursuing Vernon, it’s clear that Miami will need to work some magic with their cap space if they hope to match an offer that Vernon receives. GM Chris Grier is taking a big risk allowing Vernon to pursue other options after his 2015 campaign showcased his talents as a top-tier pass rusher. Time will tell if saving $2.7 million was worth the risk.

| Analyst

John is an analyst for Pro Football Focus and former safety for the University of Kansas Jayhawks (2004–2006).

  • Peter Muraus

    Derek Fowler? He is Dante, not Derek.

    • Michael

      Yeah dude, what in the actual fuck?

    • @PFF_JohnKosko

      I’m human. Getting it fixed.

    • cfrs15

      I thought it was Dexter Fowler?

  • Alfredo Cota

    We should get Aldon Smith back, let the Jags sign Vernon.

    • RaiderRico

      whats to say we can’t have both?!

      • Alfredo Cota

        Better spend on other positions too 😉

    • Mike Riley

      Aldon Smith may not even be reinstated as soon as he reapplies which will be in November. Also Mario Edwards Jr’s neck injury is still a question mark. We have to spend $42+ million to get under the cap. Spend it on a proven commodity like Vernon who is only 25 & will start from day one unlike Aldon or a questionable draft pick like Noah Spence. We only need to spend on one new big time free agent CB since we need to resign Amerson after next season anyway.

  • egvmountie

    Real simple…there’s no reason to spend an additional 12 million on a d – line that was one of the worst in the NFL in 2015. If the Dolphins end up keeping Vernon at 12 million, they will have the highest paid d-line in the league which provided them with terrible run defense, a weak pass rush and a 6-10 record.There are way too many other holes to fill. What is all the concern about? Vernon was a no show the first 8 games of the season.

  • Joshua Pickett

    Another BAD MOVE by Miami. OV will likely be poached, which as we saw with Charles Clay last year, results in Miami being left with nothing in return. If the Dolphins allowed him to test the market and he signed some where else, the Dolphins would have AT WORST got a 3rd round compensation pick in the draft. Now they have no chance at getting something in return if someone offers a frontloaded contract. All of this fails to mention OV IS SIMPLY NOT WORTH 12 Million dollars and the team cannot afford another over priced, above average player. Cmon man, I should be running this team by now. The Dolphins have wreaked of desperation every year since Ricky Williams retired the first time.

    • Cant FixStupid

      They’ll get a comp pick in return for Vernon if they don’t go and sign any unrestricted free agents. They lost the comp pick for Clay because they signed 4 free agents that went towards the compensatory picks last year and lost just 3 free agents.

      • Joshua Pickett

        Oh ok, I was unaware that was why the Dolphins received nothing in return last year. I thought it was because they transition tagged Clay which made them incapable of getting a comp pick in return. Thanks for the enlightenment. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t make OV worth 12 million dollars though. Hope he bogs another teams cap down and we get a 3rd rounder in return assuming the conditions are met.

  • Bortlesaur

    Would love to see the jags get him. Hopefully he enjoys the tax situation to get more bang for his buck in FL.

    • Joshua Pickett

      Yeah the Jags can just overpay all the Dolphins former D-linemen so the Dolphins can just overpay someone else’s. How’s that Odrick deal working our so far?