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Injured Dolphins DE Merling facing pay cut

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

The first two seasons of DE Phillip Merling's career were disappointing — he made 3½ sacks in 32 regular-season games — and things have not gone well for him since the 2009 season ended.

His off-field behavior came under scrutiny when he was charged with aggravated battery after allegedly hitting his pregnant girlfriend in the face during a May 27 dispute. Merling pleaded not guilty to the felony, but he could face a suspension for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy and won't get a chance to turn things around on the field anytime soon.

PFW recently reported that Merling was not in good standing with the team heading into training camp, but an injury will keep him from participating in camp, and he'll likely miss the entire season. He reportedly sustained an Achilles tendon tear at a workout away from team facilities before camp.

The Dolphins placed the troubled former first-round pick on the active/non-football injury list and they could try to keep from paying him the $600,000 he is owed this year since the injury occurred outside of team facilities. Reports indicate the team and Merling's agent, Jimmy Sexton — who also represents Dolphins V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells and head coach Tony Sparano — are negotiating on a compromise to cut only a portion of Merling's pay.

Sparano told reporters it was disappointing to hear Merling, who had been taking snaps with the first-team defense at right end in offseason practices, suffered the injury and praised him for having a productive spring. Merling still counts on the active 80-man roster and that won't change until the club moves him to the non-football injury list, which would expose him to waivers.

The Dolphins had to scramble to add D-line depth in the wake of Merling's injury. They signed veteran free-agent DEs Marques Douglas and Charles Grant, who will compete for snaps at end. First-round pick Jared Odrick is penciled in as the first-team right end. Douglas, a 10th-year veteran, started 12 games for the Jets last season and Grant, who is heading into his ninth season, started 16 games for the Saints before tearing his triceps for the second consecutive season in Week 17. Grant hasn't made more than six sacks in a season since 2004.

 

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