Posted: 9:31 am Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
By Post Staff
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland is figuring out his quarterback depth for 2011 as best he can, but a new collective bargaining agreement could mess up his plans.
The Dolphins have placed a second-round restricted free agent tender on backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen, according to his agent, Joel Turner. Under this contract, Thigpen would either return to the Dolphins for the 2011 season — the salary is currently unknown because the NFLPA has not informed agents yet what the tender values will be, Turner said — or he can sign with another team, who would owe the Dolphins a second-round pick as compensation.
But Thigpen, who just completed his fourth NFL season, won’t be signing the contract, because it very well could become moot with a new CBA.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King wrote this week that “it’s very likely that when a new CBA happens, unrestricted free agency will revert to the original rules — if you’re not franchise- or transition-tagged when unsigned after four or five years, you’re free.”
Ireland said last weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine that he would bring back Thigpen if he were deemed a restricted free agent, but the sides might part ways if Thigpen is unrestricted. In the latter scenario, Thigpen almost certainly will look for employment elsewhere, as he has been frustrated by his lack of playing time behind starter Chad Henne, who is currently the only quarterback signed on the Dolphins’ roster. Thigpen likes to take more risks than Henne throwing the football, and because of this has had a harder time earning the trust of the coaching staff.
But Thigpen does have allies on the team. Receiver Brandon Marshall practically begged for Thigpen to get his chance at the end of the Dolphins’ disappointing season, and appreciated the way Thigpen would improvise plays at the line of scrimmage to take advantage of Marshall’s size and ability.
“Henne, the way he plays the game is he goes exactly through his reads, no matter the matchup,” Marshall said in January. “Then you get to the sideline, and it’s some conflict there because they don’t like it (changing routes on the fly).”
“I think Tyler gets it a little more. … I’ve been trying to communicate with the quarterbacks all year, and we finally get it in the last game. It shows what we’re capable of doing. So yeah, Tyler is a guy that kind of gets it.”
Thigpen’s contract uncertainty could complicate the Dolphins’ draft plans. If a new CBA is not in place by the NFL Draft in late April, and the Dolphins do not know if Thigpen will be back with the team or not, it could affect their plans to draft a quarterback.
Thigpen came to Miami in a trade from Kansas City in 2009, two days after Chad Pennington suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 3. Thigpen, who went 1-10 as a starter for a woeful Chiefs team in 2008, has been stuck behind Henne ever since.
He did not play in 2009 until the Week 17 loss to Pittsburgh, and earned just one start in 2010, a 16-0 loss to the Bears on a Thursday night in November, which Henne missed because he suffered a knee injury just four days prior. Thigpen also replaced Henne in the Week 17 loss at New England after Henne was ineffective and also suffered a concussion.
Thigpen, who turns 27 in April, finished 2010 with 435 passing yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 53.2 completion percentage and a 73.0 passer rating.