- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - In the wake of the Dolphins’ bullying scandal, Miami coach Joe Philbin has pledged to improve the workplace culture. That includes spending more time in the locker room himself.

“I think the visibility factor could make a difference,” Philbin said Tuesday, adding that while he’s always had a presence “it’s safe to say I’ll do it more.”

An NFL investigation determined Richie Incognito and two other Dolphins offensive linemen engaged in persistent harassment of Jonathan Martin. Incognito, who was suspended after Martin left the team, missed the final eight games last season and became a free agent when his contract with Miami expired.

Philbin said he will encourage players to feel comfortable coming to him to discuss any issues or problems arising within the locker room or the team in general.

The coach suggested one of the reasons some of Martin’s former teammates may have been reluctant to speak out in the past is people generally don’t like being “the bearer of bad news.”

“We have to get away from that,” Philbin said. “It has to be better communication both ways.”

General manager Dennis Hickey said he was encouraged that players still see Miami as an attractive organization, noting the team has re-signed such key players as cornerback Brent Grimes and defensive tackle Randy Starks, and brought in cornerback Cortland Finnegan and tackle Branden Albert, among others.

“Miami is an attractive place and it’s played out as players are wanting to come here,” Hickey said. “They get a sense of the organizations and the coaches and the people in the organization … people with passion and integrity and trust.”

Hickey would not comment on where Incognito might find a job.


PERFORMANCE PAYS OFF: Chicago Bears tackle Jordan Mills was the big winner in the NFL’s performance-based pay program that compensates players for playing time based on salary levels.

The fifth-round draft choice (No. 163 overall) from Louisiana Tech played for the league’s rookie minimum of $405,000 last season, along with a $164,800 signing bonus. He participated in 96 percent of Chicago’s offensive plays and 15 percent of the club’s special teams plays. That earned Mills $318,244 in additional pay.

Next on the bonus list was Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who got $315,848, followed by Cowboys guard Ronald Leary ($307,104), Bengals safety George Iloka ($281,515), and Rams safety Rodney McLeod ($280,916).

Another player who made out well was Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy. In addition to a Super Bowl check for $92,000, he got a $258,414 bonus under the performance-based pay program.

Under the program, players will receive $110.72 million for their performances during the 2013 season; the payments will be made on April 1, 2016, in an agreement with the NFL Players Association.

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