Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – It’s almost done. According to all signs coming out of the negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA, a collective bargaining agreement could be reached as early as Friday night.
Late Thursday night, the two sides finally agreed to a rookie wage scale that would have rookies sign for four-years with an option for a fifth at a much higher salary. It was a small battle win for the players, but the owners won the war by dropping rookie salaries by as much as 50 percent.
According to SI.com’s Jim Trotter, the negotiations had a fire put under them on Thursday when the NFLPA revealed to the owners that an insurance plan was in place to pay each player $200,000 in the event the season was lost. Trotter reported this made the owners stand up and take notice.
The money saved on the rookie wage scale would be returned to the players through increases in veteran contracts. According to profootballtalk.com, this will impact Dolphins first round pick Mike Pouncey.
Pouncey’s contract will be for four years, with a fifth-year option. The fifth-year will be equal to the average of the third to 25th highest paid players at a position, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
After that, by late Friday morning reports began to trickle out that the economic issues were all resolved.
That left a few other issues outstanding that the parties took their time and went through the issues that included a legacy fund for retired players, a right-of-first-refusal tag for free agents in 2011, player safety and issues related to the anti-trust case.
Once agreed to, the league will have to get the CBA approved by the courts and then get the league year going by next Friday to ensure a full pre-season. The owners will vote on the new deal on August 21 during meetings in Atlanta.
For the Fins, once free agency begins after a new CBA is approve, they still need offensive line help, another quarterback or two, a running back/scat back, and backup outside linebackers.
The biggest name quarterback actually on the open market is Vince Young. He’s a high-risk, high-reward player who can either help an average team win games, or become a team obliterator in the likes of Terrell Owens.
If Young has matured, and the Dolphins feel like he can be a quarterback of the future, he’s worth the risk based on his ability. But that’s a mighty big “IF” the Fins would have to answer in a hurry when free agency begins.
Past the quarterback position, the Dolphins need a significant backup to rookie Daniel Thomas. They may already have a target who has already won a Super Bowl ring.
According to NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora, the Dolphins have decided that the running back they need to help them get to the next level is Reggie Bush. The Saints are expected to release Bush as soon as they can to avoid paying him $12 million for the upcoming season.
When Bush entered the NFL six years ago, he was expected to be a dominant running back due to his speed and cutting ability. But Bush has seen his numbers dropped to just 150 yards gained last season.
Part of Bush’s problems has been injuries he’s suffered while playing for the Saints. Bush blamed much of the problems on playing on the turf in New Orleans. He played on grass at USC where he helped win a national championship that was later taken away because Bush accepted money while at USC.
Bush’s best season in the pros was in 2006 when he gained 565 yards on the ground and 742 receiving yards.
But where he’s been especially lethal has been in the kick return game which the Dolphins desperately need to improve. Bush is a threat to take a kick back every single time and could help reverse the poor field position the Dolphins’ offense typically starts with on a drive.
There is another back who would fit a similar mold is Darren Sproles. The diminutive former Charger has speed to burn, is a dangerous return man, but can’t be counted on as an every down back. He could become a fall-back position if the Dolphins do target Bush first.