Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon (50) walks off the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee
March 01, 2016

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Defensive end Olivier Vernon received a transition tag Tuesday from the Miami Dolphins, who are gambling they won't lose him to another team when free agency starts next week.

Miami decided against placing a $15.7 million franchise tag on Vernon, which would have prevented another team from offering Vernon a deal.

This year's transition tag number calls for defensive ends to receiver $12.734 million if the sides can't reach a long-term deal. A transition tag allows the player to negotiate with other teams, but his current club has the right of first refusal to match any offer.

The Dolphins' move came after they were unable to negotiate a long-term contract with Vernon.

A Miami native, Vernon made $1.7 million in 2015, when he led the Dolphins with 7 1/2 sacks and 36 quarterback hits. The former third-round draft pick from the University of Miami has started every game the past two years and has totaled 29 sacks in four NFL seasons.

If the Dolphins wind up keeping Vernon, it will make it more difficult for them to re-sign running back Lamar Miller, who can become a free agent next week. The Dolphins also must decide whether to retain four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake, who is 34 and recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.

Tuesday was the deadline for tagging unrestricted free agents. The Dolphins used the transition tag a year ago on tight end Charles Clay, who then signed with the Buffalo Bills.


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