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Dolphins place the transition tag on DE Olivier Vernon

Vernon was an underrated defender last season, but now he'll be paid among the best at his position.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins officially placed the transition tag on defensive end Olivier Vernon, just before the tag deadline. Vernon, 25, was a third-round pick by the Dolphins in 2012 and really came into his own as an all-around defender this season.

He has played in all 16 games in each of his four seasons, but this year was all over the field making plays. He has value as an edge rusher and he is one of the best in the league against the run. Pro Football Focus had Vernon as their third-best edge defender behind only Von Miller and Khalil Mack this past season.

Credited with 81 total pressures by PFF, Vernon managed 7.5 sacks this past year and has 29 sacks in his career. He also compiled 61 tackles and was credited with 11 stuffs. In his four seasons in the league, he has also totaled 196 tackles, 20 stuffs and four forced fumbles.

Vernon was considered a snub for the Pro Bowl this past season and flew under the radar despite his excellent season on a Miami defense that wasn't great for much of the season. He wildly outperformed Ndamukong Suh, the high-priced interior defensive lineman the team brought in this offseason.

The Dolphins will likely try to get a long-term deal done for Vernon before the July 15 deadline. If they two sides can't come to an agreement, Vernon will earn $12.7 million in 2016 under the transition tag, versus $15.7 million if the Dolphins had gone with the franchise tag instead.

Using the transition tag also carries a little more risk for the Dolphins. Like the franchise tag, other teams can negotiate deals with Vernon. Miami would have the right to match any deal, but unlike the franchise tag, the Dolphins would not receive any draft pick compensation if they choose not to match an outside offer for Vernon.