By HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Sports Writer
So when the Washington Redskins lost a starting lineman to a season-ending injury Sunday, a significant swap quickly got done.
The Redskins gave the Dolphins a second-round pick in 2009 and a sixth-round choice in 2010 for Taylor, who is leaving the only NFL team he’s known.
The six-time Pro Bowl defensive end—who was the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year—fell out of favor in Miami after spending his offseason on a TV show rather than working out with teammates.
The deal came about nine hours after starting defensive end Phillip Daniels was carted away from the practice field at Redskins Park with a season-ending left knee injury on Day 1 of training camp.
It also came only about 1 1/2 hours after Washington executive vice president Vinny Cerrato told reporters: “We haven’t talked to anybody about anything.”
When he later announced the deal with the Dolphins, Cerrato said Taylor was expected to report to the Redskins on Monday—something the player’s agent confirmed.
“We’re fortunate there was a guy that caliber on the market when somebody got hurt,” Cerrato said. “Normally, in most years, there’s not a guy of that caliber on the market.”
The 33-year-old Taylor has played 11 NFL seasons and he’s started every game each of the past eight years.
He had 11 sacks during the 2007 season, giving him 117 over his career.
“His play speaks for itself. I think it’s easy to talk about Jason Taylor. He’s got statistics and everything else to back up everything that he’s done,” Cerrato said. “So we had to act after losing our starting defensive end Phillip Daniels, and talked to Parcells after practice today and we were able to work something out.”
Taylor said last month that his intention is to play one more season, and it seems clear that he wants to pursue a Hollywood acting career. That said, Taylor privately has told confidants that he isn’t certain that he’ll retire after 2008.
Cerrato noted Taylor has two years left on his contract and added: “I’m 100 percent positive he’ll play longer than one year.”
Taylor’s agent, Gary Wichard, said it’s possible Taylor will play beyond the coming season.
“The Dolphins got real good value for Jason,” Wichard said. “And he’s excited about going to Washington—he wanted an opportunity to compete in the playoffs in 2008. At the same time, this is the end of his years with the Dolphins, so it’s kind of bittersweet.”
The Dolphins declined comment even after the Redskins announced the deal.
“Right now we’re not prepared to confirm that,” Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said. Taylor didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.
The new Dolphins regime led by Parcells, the executive vice president of football operations, fumed this offseason as Taylor focused on non-football interests rather than working out in South Florida.
Taylor finished second to Kristi Yamaguchi in this year’s “Dancing With the Stars” competition in Los Angeles, and as he became a TV celebrity, his feud with Parcells escalated. At one point Taylor said he was unhappy he had spoken “probably less than a minute each” with Parcells and new general manager Jeff Ireland—something the player perceived as a sort of silent treatment.
In mid-May, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano made a cryptic announcement that Taylor wasn’t expected to take part in any team activities through training camp. That signaled the Dolphins were intent on making a trade—especially because in April, they had drafted two potential replacements for him: Clemson’s Phillip Merling in the second round, and Hampton’s Kendall Langford in the third round.
But if the trade had not been made, Wichard said, Taylor planned to report to the Dolphins before their camp starts Saturday. There had been speculation Taylor might hold out.
Last season, he was chosen NFL Man of the Year and was the lone Pro Bowl player for a Dolphins team that went 1-15. His departure is the latest move in a major roster shakeup.
Zach Thomas, the other anchor of the Dolphins’ defense over the past decade, was released in February and signed with the Dallas Cowboys—meaning he and Taylor, who are brothers-in-law, go from being teammates to being members of NFC East rivals.
In Miami, Taylor played primarily at right end, but Cerrato said Washington will move him to the left side, where Daniels was the starter. Andre Carter plays right defensive end for the Redskins.
Wichard said he first became aware the deal might happen Sunday morning.
“When we heard Daniels went down, that started it on a fast track,” Wichard said.
Daniels tore a left knee ligament on the initial play of 7-on-7 offense vs. defense drills. He stayed down on the turf for several minutes before being taken away on a cart, a towel draped over his head. He’s expected to have surgery Friday.
“Not a good way to start, at all,” middle linebacker London Fletcher said. “It’s a big blow to our defense. Phil was a tremendous leader, excellent at playing the run, and was going to be our third-down attack guy. With him going down, it’s like we’re replacing two guys.”
Daniels has played 12 seasons in the NFL with Washington, Chicago and Seattle, accumulating 59 sacks.
The Redskins also lost another defensive end, reserve Alex Buzbee, to a season-ending injury during their afternoon practice. Buzbee ruptured his Achilles’ tendon.
“With Phillip gone, and now Buzbee gone, there’s a hole there,” Washington’s Jim Zorn said after running his first training camp practices as an NFL head coach. “And Phillip has created a big hole.”
One quickly filled with the trade for Taylor.