CULPEPPER HEARING POSTPONED
The grievance filed on behalf of Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper was scheduled to be heard on Friday, June 29. Instead, it will now occur on Tuesday, July 3.
The postponement occurred because the arbitrator's flight from New York was postponed due to weather.
"Every day the hearing is postponed is one [Culpepper] misses from being on the free agent market," said NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen, who will handle the case on behalf of Culpepper.
Though we understand Berthelsen's frustration at having the plug pulled at the last minute, the notion that there's a connection between a four-day postponement of the hearing and Culpepper's ability to sign with another team is a tad disingenuous. Culpepper's argument is that he should be allowed to fully participate in practice. The thinking is that, if the Dolphins are forced to provide him with access to team drills, the Dolphins will cut him. If, on the other hand, the Dolphins can limit his practice reps to individual drills and other activities that minimize the chances of suffering an injury that could put the team on the hook for his entire base salary, the Dolphins might be inclined to hold his rights deep into August, in the hopes of getting a low-round draft pick in exchange for his services.
So even if the Dolphins were told right now that they must give Culpepper full access to practice, the team's hand wouldn't be forced until the next practice begins, which won't occur until training camp opens.
Thus, the delay is, as a practical matter, meaningless. By carping about the delay, Berthelsen only risks alienating the arbitrator who'll be issuing the decision.
Meanwhile, we doubt that the Dolphins will keep Culpepper beyond the first day or two of training camp, even if the grievance fails. His ongoing presence will be an enormous distraction, especially if he continues to send out e-mails to the media regarding his unhappiness with the manner in which the team is treating him.
Though the organization will claim (presumably with a straight face) that it does not believe that Culpepper's malcontent affects the other players on the team, the powers-that-be privately will be fretting that it does, or that it might. And none of them will sleep soundly until Culpepper is gone.
That's why the team's smartest move would be to cut Culpepper loose a day or two before the time comes to begin in earnest preparations for the 2007 season.