The passing of an era for Zach Thomas?
When he was placed on injured reserve -- against his will, according to agent Drew Rosenhaus -- the Dolphins and their tackling machine linebacker changed their relationship. Thomas has been the heartbeat of the defense for a dozen years and has been an exemplary pillar in the South Florida community.
He rewarded the Dolphins for picking him in 1996 as a probable special teams player by becoming a Pro Bowler. They rewarded him with multiple multi-year contracts that made him a rich man. He's made $15 million in base salary since 2004.
And until this week there was never any talk of Zach moving on or costing too much or slowing down. Now? There's plenty of talk like that.
Remember in my last post when I complained bitterly that Cameron would not answer the question of whether he wants Thomas back in 2008 with a simple yes or no? Well, I'm told the reason the coach didn't give a black and white answer is because this issue is mired in a gray area.
Zach, you see, is scheduled to make $5.65 million in 2008. Guess what? The Dolphins are unlikely to pay that for a 35-year-old linebacker who missed most of the previous year with concussion and migraine issues -- even one named Zach Thomas. They are likely going to ask Thomas to take a pay cut or do a short extension that will mitigate the large cap charge that comes with a $5.65 million base salary.
Zach, on the other hand, has at his disposal the ability to simply decline overtures to trim his salary or extend his contract. He's all but certain to rebuff a salary cut but will be open to an extension.
And if he really wants to push this to the wall, if he really wants to see what is out there in the world of teams that actually win games, Thomas will likely be able to do that. Now, so far, Zach has said the right things about wanting to stay with the Dolphins and all that.
But he welcomed the news that owner Wayne Huizenga would listen to him if he asked to be traded. He also told brother-in-law Jason Taylor about Huizenga's overture which the owner made in London and applied to both cornerstone players.
So Zach is not thinking he absolutely, definitely will play in Miami no matter what.
Nope, the ties that bind in this case are weakening. The team is now looking out for its best interest by placing Zach on injured reserve and will do so again this offseason when it comes to his high cap charge. Thomas, a wiser businessman than most might think, is also going to be looking out for his own best interests.
And it is possible, maybe even likely, the two interests will not meet.