Three things: It is late. I am working. And the Dolphins didn't take long to kick off free agency.
San Francisco guard Justin Smiley will soon become the newest member of the Dolphins as he agreed to a free agent contract just minutes ago, according to a Dolphins club source.
Smiley, a 26-year-old former second round pick out of Alabama, is getting a five-year contract worth $25 million. The deal includes $9 million in guaranteed money.
The Dolphins have penciled Smiley in as their starting right guard but I remind you that is in pencil. First of all he has to pass a physical. Second, that is not an easy accomplishment for him.
Smiley is still recovering from surgery to repair a dislocated right shoulder he suffered on Nov. 4, 2007. Even if he passes, Smiley likely will be limited in offseason minicamps. It is unknown at what stage in training camp Smiley will be ready, but one assumes the Dolphins have a sense he'll be good to go early enough to make a difference. Otherwise why give the guy $9 million guaranteed?
Anyway, the move pretty much signals the end of Rex Hadnot's days with the Dolphins unless he accepts a minimum-salary deal and he wasn't inclined to do that as an unrestricted free agent, last I heard. Hadnot started all 16 games at right guard for the Dolphins in 2007.
That is the big headline so far. Here are others:
A report in The Dallas Morning News says the Dolphins and Cowboys are close to completing a trade for defensive tackle Jason Ferguson, who has played for Bill Parcells dating back to his days with the Jets. Can't get too excited about this exchange for an 11-year veteran especially when Shaun Rogers was available in trade. Of course, trading for Ferguson will likely cost a seventh-round or conditional pick.
Another soon-to-be former Dolphin is quarterback Cleo Lemon who is scheduled to visit Jacksonville Friday morning and could be David Garrard's backup before the day is over.
I am still hoping, indeed, praying the Dolphins continue to revamp the offensive line by chasing Alan Faneca to play left guard, but that now looks unlikely. The Jets and St. Louis are about to offer perhaps the richest guard contract ever to the perennial Pro Bowl player.
Forget about Flozell Adams reuniting with former line coach Tony Sparano to play left tackle here. He has agreed to re-sign with the Cowboys for a whopping $43 million over six years with approximately $15 million guaranteed. Wow.
The NFL calendar year begins today (Friday) and the Dolphins open the new year second among NFL teams with the most salary cap room behind only Tampa Bay. Last week the team had the most space at $44 million according to figures acquired from the NFLPA and other sources.
Miami had $39.5 million at the official opening of free agency with the difference coming in the signing of Mike Lehan, Greg Camarillo, David Kircus and other minor bookkeeping matters don't merit writing about. If and when the Smiley signing and Ferguson trade ($4 million base for 2008) happen, it obviously will cut into that figure.
[Check back often on Friday, like during the day when normal people are awake, to catch up on the latest happenings.]