The Miami Dolphins have reduced their one-year contract offer to Adewale Ogunleye, protecting themselves in case stalled negotiations with the defensive end lead Ogunleye to miss a portion of the season.
The Dolphins, as NFL rules permit, reduced their offer to Ogunleye from $1.824 million to about $412,000, or a 10-percent raise over his 2003 salary. The club made the $1.824-million offer to Ogunleye in restricted free agency, giving him the highest tender to ensure itself of receiving first- and third-round draft choices as compensation if the reigning AFC sack champion signed another team's offer sheet and the Dolphins chose not to match. But Ogunleye lost the right to negotiate with other clubs when the restricted free-agent market closed April 16 without him having signed an offer sheet elsewhere.
Ogunleye's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, dismissed the Dolphins' move as insignificant since Ogunleye has no intention of signing the one-year tender offer no matter how much it's worth, he said. Rosenhaus has said that Ogunleye is prepared to sit out into the season -- it technically would not be a holdout since Ogunleye is not signed to a contract -- if he and the Dolphins do not agree to a long-term contract. Rosenhaus apparently is seeking total bonus money of about $16 million as part of a multi-year deal for Ogunleye, who had 15 sacks last season, and the parties seem to have made little progress thus far toward an agreement.
If Ogunleye sits out, Rosenhaus has said, he would report to the Dolphins around midseason to be available for enough games to be credited with a fourth NFL season and be eligible for unrestricted free agency next offseason. That's why the Dolphins reduced their tender offer, team officials said. They would owe Ogunleye one-seventeenth of his salary for each week he's with the club under that scenario, and this way they'd be paying him a portion of $412,000 instead of a portion of $1.824 million. Miami saved $1.4 million in salary cap space with the maneuver.
Ogunleye would need to be with the team for six games to be credited with a full season. But Rosenhaus said his research revealed that the Dolphins would have the option of suspending Ogunleye for three games, so Ogunleye would report to the club with nine games remaining.
Rosenhaus tried but failed earlier in the offseason to get the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and other teams interested in signing Ogunleye, 26, to an offer sheet in restricted free agency or attempting to trade for him. The Dolphins diminished the chances of a trade by maintaining that they would not accept less for Ogunleye than the first- and third-round draft selections to which they were entitled if he'd left as a restricted free agent.
The club could limit Ogunleye's movement on the unrestricted free-agent market next offseason by name him its franchise player.
Tailback Eddie George reported to the Tennessee Titans' workout Tuesday but didn't practice as he continues to recover from arthroscopic knee and ankle surgeries.
Titans officials and agent Lamont Smith appear close to completing a revised contract that would keep George with the team. George likely will reduce his salary from $4.25 million to around $1.5 million. He received a $1-million roster bonus from the Titans earlier in the offseason. Smith and Titans officials are working out a package of incentives to enable George to possibly recoup some of the lost income. George is scheduled to be married Sunday and had set this week as an informal deadline for getting the new deal done, but it appears that negotiations could drag on for a few more weeks.
A source familiar with negotiations between the Cincinnati Bengals and free-agent defensive tackle Daryl Gardener said the two sides remain hopeful of completing a deal and the parties should know within the next couple weeks whether they'll be able to do so. Gardener lined up a four-year, $9.3-million deal with the Bengals after Denver gave him permission to speak to other teams in anticipation of his June release by the Broncos. But the agreement has been on hold since Gardener, who has a history of back problems, underwent a physical for the Bengals. . . .
Free-agent linebacker Jason Gildon could pick a new team soon. Gildon, released this month by the Pittsburgh Steelers, has visited the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills. He is scheduled to visit the Bengals next and also has drawn interest from the Bears. . . .
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed free-agent defensive tackle Derrick Ransom, formerly of Arizona. The Jaguars picked Ransom after he and another free agent defensive tackle -- Delbert Cowsette, formerly of the Washington Redskins -- worked out for team officials on Tuesday. . . .
The Packers officially announced the signing of quarterback Tim Couch on Tuesday. . . . Titans rookie defensive end Bo Schobel suffered a broken bone in his foot during Tuesday's practice. Schobel, a fourth-round draft pick from TCU, could be sidelined as long as three months.