Vernon, 25, will immediately vault to the top spot on the board for available free agents on defense. Over his last three seasons, Vernon logged 25.5 sacks and 119 tackles. A tweet sent out by Vernon's agent, David Canter, included an image of William Wallace from the movie Braveheart shouting "Freedom!" It's safe to say that Canter and Vernon are anticipating a lucrative offseason and less red tape in the way of a possible deal. Teams can begin to negotiate with Vernon immediately.
Per NFL Media's Albert Breer, the Dolphins can now receive a compensatory pick -- potentially a third-rounder -- when he departs in free agency.
The Dolphins find themselves sandwiched against the salary-cap ceiling, and with a deal for Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonsogetting slowed down, their offseason is at an interesting standstill for the moment. The team signed former No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams to a two-year deal. They also are angling to keep Cameron Wake on the roster. Both are on the opposite side of 30, however, and Wednesday's move was a clear indication that the Dolphins see no point in attempting to sign their youngest defensive star to a long-term deal.
Time will tell. Perhaps Vernon, on the lighter side for a defensive end, was not perceived as a fit in Miami's defense run by new coordinator Vance Joseph even if Joseph is expected to keep a version of the 4-3 scheme that Vernon shined in over the past three years. Perhaps the Dolphins knew they would not be able to afford Vernon anyway once they saw the market developing around the defensive end. If it's the latter, it would be a shame to see a team lose quality young talent at the expense of balky free agent deals.