With another Dolphins’ season lost, questions begin to emerge about which players will return with the team next year, including a legend…
Around 10 years ago to this day, the Miami Dolphins worked out a 27-year old defensive end from the Canadian Football League (CFL) named Cameron Wake. The Dolphins needed more talent on the defensive side of the football. DE Jason Taylor, a Dolphins legend, had reached his end and was on and off with the team. It has long been said that to win in the NFL, you need two things; a QB and someone to rush the QB. The Dolphins were fresh out of both.
Sure, Miami had just won the division with QB Chad Pennington, but that would not last long at all. The Dolphins could not find any QB talent after getting smoked by the Ravens in the playoffs, but they did find the next best thing.
Cameron Wake had played linebacker at Penn State, he played a bit of defensive end at times too. He was a solid college player, recording 191 tackles and 8.5 sacks as a Nittany Lion. It was okay, but not good enough to get drafted. Wake did briefly sign with the New York Giants, but was cut shortly. Being the determined as he was, Wake did not quit. He wanted to prove he could make it in the NFL. So he took the hard route to get there.
“It doesn’t add up, but that’s my path and that’s what I had to deal with…”
-Cameron Wake on his journey to NFL, per James Walker ESPN
Wake became a mortgage broker, that’s right. He did not just up and join the the CFL, he had to wait for his chance…to get a chance. After over a year waiting, the former linebacker joined the CFL and switched over to defensive end permanently. He signed with the BC Lions and went on to tear up the league with 39 sacks in 2 seasons. Wake impressed enough NFL teams, nearly half of the league, to warrant another shot.
He did not just workout for the Miami Dolphins, but that who he ended up with. Call it faith or just good fortune for Miami. The rest is history for Wake and the Dolphins, as he spent the next 10 seasons solidifying himself as one of the best to wear the aqua and orange. Wake is a five-time Pro Bowler and made 1st team All-Pro in 2012. He has recorded 98 sacks, which puts him second all-time to Jason Taylor (131 sacks) in Dolphins history.
“The struggle is what makes the strength.”
-Wake, per Miami Dolphins Youtube
Wake tore his Achilles in the 2015 season playing the Patriots. After that, many thought he was done. He would be 34- years old and suffered one of the worst injuries for an athlete. How could he come back from that? Well, he is Cameron Wake. So of course he came back better than ever, notching 11.5 sacks on his way to another Pro Bowl and second team All-pro.
So despite being a “late bloomer” Wake has had an extraordinary pro career, thankfully all in Miami. However, as Wake now reaches the end of his 2-year contract and approaches age 37, his future in Miami becomes murky.
Miami is about to start a rebuild, similar to when Wake first got here. Part of that means cutting salary and cutting older players. Wake fits the bill for the latter and the doubters are always questioning if he can be productive. While it is unknown how much Wake would want to be payed, it is known that Wake wants to come back.
“I would like to think I’d probably be good to go for next year.”
-Wake on playing in 2019, per Hal Habib The Palm Beach Post.
Wake wants to be back and the Dolphins would be stupid to not want him back, right? Yes, even at 37-years of age, Wake is the Dolphins best pass rusher. Which probably does not say much for Miami defensive line. As mentioned, with Miami in a rebuild, they may not want to pay Wake more than what he is worth. On the flip side, Cameron Wake knows the value he brings to the team and would never settle for less than his worth.
#Dolphins leaders in total pressures generated in 2018:
1. Cameron Wake – 47
2. Robert Quinn – 35
3. Akeem Spence – 29
4. Andre Branch – 19
5. Davon Godchaux – 16#FinsUp
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) December 21, 2018
So what is going to happen? I don’t know. I do, however, know what should happen. Miami should pay Wake whatever he wants and allow him to finish his career here. Rebuilds are always sketchy in the NFL, it’s possible to turn a franchise around in a year with the right QB and coach. Miami is working on that right now. It would benefit them to have the money to sign players that would fit Miami new scheme.
On the other hand, it would benefit the new coaching staff to have a defensive leader already in place to get the players to buy in. That holds especially true if Miami hires a defensive head coach. Miami does not need to sacrifice leadership for money and winning, not in this case. Unlike Taylor or Zach Thomas, Cameron Wake needs to play his last NFL game as a Miami Dolphin. The Dolphins must Wake again.