Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 18, 2007
DAVIE — Jason Taylor understands the thinking behind the winless Miami Dolphins' decision to trade wide receiver Chris Chambers to San Diego.
It doesn't mean Taylor likes it.
Taylor, a defensive end in his 11th season with the Dolphins, had a tone of resignation as he addressed the latest plans to turn around a franchise sure to miss the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
"It's not good news. It's nothing I like," Taylor said Wednesday, a day after the Dolphins traded Chambers for a second-round pick. "But we also know what we are. We're not a good team right now.
"You can use whatever word you want, retooling, reloading, whatever the heck you want to call it, but it is what it is. We're rebuilding. I'm man enough to see that and say it."
Taylor and the Dolphins opened the season focused on short-term success. But six straight losses by an average of nine points, a defense ranked near the bottom in the NFL and quarterback Trent Green's concussion in Week 5 have accelerated the organization's long-range plan.
"We know we've got some holes to fill, and we've got to look at every opportunity to do that," first-year head coach Cam Cameron said. "The philosophy of building through the draft, the only way you can do that is with draft picks."
Cameron said in no way is he conceding the season, which continues Sunday at home against unbeaten New England. But he realizes trading a proven veteran like Chambers, the team's No. 1 wide receiver since 2002, "could give your team a mixed message."
"Older guys are going to look at it one way, and the young guys are going to look at it another," Cameron said.
Veterans such as Taylor and linebacker Zach Thomas, in his 12th season in Miami, want to win now, while young players are anxious for a chance to play a significant role.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for not only myself and for (rookie) Ted (Ginn Jr.)," said second-year wide receiver Derek Hagan, who along with Ginn will try to replace Chambers. "It's time to step up. It's time to get going."
The move also energized Chambers, who never played in the playoffs during seven seasons in Miami. He was injured when the Dolphins made the post-season in 2001, his rookie season.
"This is a great opportunity for me," he said Tuesday during a conference call from the Fort Lauderdale airport while waiting for his flight to San Diego. "All I've known is the Miami Dolphins for the last seven years. I'm ready to move on, a fresh start to my career. I feel like I have a lot to offer and haven't maxed my abilities yet."
No one knows where the decision to trade Chambers, a Pro Bowler in 2005, will lead this season.
But Taylor, 33, realizes many of the organization's decisions are not about this season.
The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year said he didn't speculate whether Tuesday's trade deadline might mark the end of his career in Miami.
"I didn't even think about it," he said. "I didn't think about football. I didn't come over here. I didn't talk to anybody. I turned my phone off. I could care less."
Taylor also didn't rule out the possibility he'll be with a new team next season.
"After the season, who knows what's going to happen," he said.
The Chambers trade shocked a number of Dolphins, but reminded them of the business side of NFL life.
"It kind of caught everybody off-guard, us already struggling and everything," linebacker Joey Porter said. "It's an unfortunate situation.
"But I have no control of the moves they make up top, so when they make moves you can only roll with it. I just have to move on and worry about what we're going to do next."
The effects of Chambers' departure will unfold for some time.
Beginning Sunday, Hagan, who has two career touchdown catches, and Ginn, who has three catches in his first season, will be much more involved in the Dolphins' passing game.
Long term, the Dolphins rid themselves of Chambers' $5.4 million salary and picked up a high draft pick, giving Cameron and General Manager Randy Mueller more options in the off-season.
"You have to realize where your team is right now," said former NFL executive Charley Casserly, a general manager for 16 seasons. "You open up salary cap space going forward. The second-round pick is a terrific pick and it came without too high a price.
"Players understand that nothing lasts forever with players on your team."
Taylor saw the decision to trade Chambers on a more personal level.
"I love Chris Chambers to death. I hated to see him go," Taylor said. "But it was a good opportunity for him. He won three games overnight and goes to a team that has a chance."