Colts quarterback Andrew Luck says he wants former Stanford teammate Jonathan Martin to join him in Indianapolis, in what could be the first bit of good news to come out of the “Bullygate” scandal for the Miami Dolphins. The saga has already cost Miami two starting offensive linemen, a coach, and a trainer, after Martin quit the team midseason after accusing Richie Incognito of harassing him while on the job. Incognito was suspended for the remainder of the season, Martin was never invited back, and offensive line coach Jim Turner was fired after an independent investigation revealed he was a part of the hostile work environment.
As the Dolphins attempt to regroup from the scandal and move on, one lingering issue has been what to do with Martin, who is still under contract for next season but based on public comments from his teammates, likely would not be welcomed back in the locker room. The team could release him, but that could prompt Martin to take legal action against the team unless they pay him the remainder of his contract while cutting him. While trading Martin to another team seems like the easiest way out for the Dolphins, Martin appeared to have no trade value at all – until now.
The fear about the NFL is that Martin would not be accepted by his new teammates, for fear he might use their locker room conversations to ruin their careers, as he essentially did to Incognito. But Andrew Luck is the clear leader of the Colts locker room, and in giving his public stamp of approval for a Martin acquisition, he paves the pay for the rest of the Indianapolis roster to accept him accordingly. Thus far the Colts have gone to great lengths to make Luck feel at home, hiring his former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and adding former Stanford tight end as well.
The question now becomes whether the Colts and Dolphins can work out a trade for Jonathan Martin. Any compensation would likely come in the form of a low round draft pick, conditional on Martin’s playing time. But even if the Dolphins end up getting nothing in return, a trade would allow them to remove Martin from their salary cap – and get him off their roster without opening themselves up to any legal issues regarding the dismissal of an employee after he complained about workplace harassment.
In contrast, Richie Incognito is a free agent and the Dolphins can simply allow him to sign with whatever team he wants, though no other NFL teams have yet publicly expressed interest in doing so. Incognito is a recent Pro Bowler and generally performed far better than Martin on the field, but his role in the bullying scandal may cause teams to shy away from him.