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Dolphins transition tag on Olivier Vernon means Raiders could steal him away

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Today the Dolphins placed the transition tag on pass rusher Olivier Vernon which makes him available for a team like the Raiders to give him a contract the Dolphins can't match.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With all the tags coming in quickly today, one of the more curious ones was the transition tag placed on Dolphins defensive end, Olivier Vernon. For some reason the Dolphins opted not to use the Exclusive or non-exclusive Franchise tag on Vernon, making him available for another team to sign him away. The Raiders could be that team.

One must assume that the reason the Dolphins went with the Transition Tag instead of the Franchise Tag was because of the $3 million cap savings in 2016. That's not much, but for a team as strapped as the Dolphins are right now, it's significant. The Franchise Tag would have paid Vernon $15.7 million, while the Transition Tag pays $12.7 million.

Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the Transition Tag allows Vernon to sign an offer sheet with another team. The Dolphins will have the opportunity to match it, but they may not be able to. Should they opt not to match it (or be unable to match it) Vernon would be signed away without the Dolphins receiving any compensation.

Vernon is one of the top talents on the market this year. He is just 25-years-old and has put up 29.0 sacks over his four NFL seasons, despite having zero starts as a rookie. All the Raiders would need do is offer a front loaded deal, as they do everyone these days, and the Dolphins would be stuck.

Interesting that the Dolphins are in this situation in large part to having beat out the Raiders to sign Ndamukong Suh a monster contract last offseason.

Depending on the 2016 salary cap hit from signing Marquette King, the Raiders look to have at least $66 million in cap room, which is second in the NFL behind only the Jaguars ($80 million).

Aldon Smith is not set to come off his suspension midway through next season. Whether he signs back with the Raiders is uncertain. Vernon would give the Raiders the pass rush they need to complement Khalil Mack either until Smith returns or if he doesn't. And can you imagine what the Raiders pass rush would look like with all three?