INDIANAPOLIS — The fallout from the Wells Report cost Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner and head trainer Kevin O’Neill their jobs on Wednesday, while Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, and John Jerry could face punishment from the league office for their behavior toward Jonathan Martin.
Coach Joe Philbin will keep his job, however, and will likely emerge from this incident unscathed after being mostly exonerated by the report. Philbin finally spoke to the media Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine for the first time since the Wells Report was released last Friday, and took responsibility for the mess inside his locker room.
“I’m the one that’s responsible for the workplace . . . I have to do a better job,” said Philbin, entering his third season with the team. “We’re going to look at every avenue, uncover every stone, and we’re going to have a better workplace, I promise you that. I’m going to make sure that happens.”
The report exonerated Philbin for not knowing the depth of the taunting and verbal abuse suffered by Martin, who abruptly left the team in October and checked into a hospital for psychological treatment, since Martin never told anyone with the team the degree of his mental anguish.
But Philbin still defended himself on Thursday.
“I can tell you that I never turned my back,” he said. “If I heard this kind of language or these types of acts being done, I would have intervened immediately.”
Turner, a Braintree, Mass., native, was fired for not being truthful or cooperative with Ted Wells, who headed the NFL-commissioned investigation, and also for participating in some of the sophomoric humor in the locker room. O’Neill, who had been the Dolphins’ trainer since 1996, was fired for being hostile toward Wells and not reporting the verbal abuse that he allegedly heard. A Dolphins source said O’Neill flew to Indianapolis with the Dolphins’ delegation earlier this week and was pulled out of a presentation on Wednesday to be told he was fired.
“I don’t know if there’s a really good time to relieve someone of their duties,” Philbin said. “We made a decision as an organization. We felt that it was fair to communicate that decision as soon as possible.”
Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel has been in contact with several current NFL quarterbacks as he prepares to begin his professional career, including Tom Brady.
George Whitfield, who serves as Manziel’s personal quarterback coach and is helping him prepare for the draft, said Thursday afternoon that Brady is one of several current starters who has wished Manziel well via text message and given him words of encouragement.
“I know he was really excited that he got a chance to touch base with [Brady], get some encouraging words,” Whitfield told the Globe. “He’s always trying to seek out guys about the process, and I know he admires Tom a great deal. That’s just a smart thing to do.”
Larry Fitzgerald recently restructured his contract to help give the Cardinals more salary-cap space, only days after rumors surfaced that the Patriots had tried to trade for the Pro Bowl receiver last season.
Arizona general manager Steve Keim swatted down those rumors on Thursday.
“I was driving into work one morning and I heard the rumors about the trade and I was trying to find someone to fire,” he quipped, “because [the Patriots] never called me.”
Cap expected to be $130m
The NFL has not set the 2014 cap, but according to a league source, it is expected to grow to approximately $130 million, up from $123 million in 2013. Teams are allowed to roll over unused cap space from year to year, and the Patriots can add $4.1 million in 2014.Ben Volin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.