Cameron Wake wasn't present for the Tuesday morning start of the Miami Dolphins' offseason program under new coach Joe Philbin, according to a team source, and the star linebacker could be absent for quite some time.
Wake, who became an elite NFL pass rusher after the Dolphins signed him out of the Canadian Football League in 2009, hasn't been able to reach a new deal with the team, though Miami officials have repeatedly told him they would adjust his contract to fall in line with his performance. Wake is due to make just $650,000 next season on the four-year deal he signed out of the CFL, and the front office is well aware of his desire for a new contract in the near future.
Wake's agent, Paul Sheehy, declined to comment when asked if the linebacker's absence was related to a lack of progress on a new deal.
The Dolphins are eligible to begin their offseason program earlier than the normal April 16 date, given the hiring of a new coach. Their offseason program, including OTAs and minicamp, will run through mid-June.
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland has been the subject of criticism from fans, inside the team's locker room and around the league, but getting Wake signed to an extension would be one step toward engendering more goodwill. The strength of the team is its defense, and Wake is one of the pillars of the unit, now being run by coordinator Kevin Coyle, who takes over for Mike Nolan.
Wake, 30, had seven sacks as a situational performer in 2009, and he has a team-high 32 sacks in the past three seasons. He reached the Pro Bowl in 2010 with 16 sacks, and last season, he had an aggregate of 90 sacks, quarterback hits, quarterback pressures and holding penalties drawn, according to ProFootballFocus -- by far most in the NFL. (Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers, who makes $14 million per season, was second in the NFL, with a total of 74 such plays).
Wake has been effective as an edge rusher in both a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme. Similar pass rushers the past few years -- such as Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Trent Cole and Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson -- have earned over $12 million per season, with Mario Williams recently setting the market with a Buffalo Bills contract that includes $50 million guaranteed and averages $16 million per season. Players with Wake's pedigree tend to do extremely well in free agency, though the Dolphins would hold the ability to apply the franchise tag in future years.
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