Why the wait with Mike Pouncey?

As I was preparing to take vacation on April 19, this thought crossed my mind: By the time I return, the Miami Dolphins most likely will pick up the fifth-year option for Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey.

Ten days later, Pouncey is still in limbo as various teams across the NFL picked up other fifth-year options on 2011 first-round draft picks. The Dolphins have until May 3 to pick up the option or allow one of their top players to hit free agency after this season.

So what are the Dolphins waiting for? Why is Miami stalling this decision with Pouncey until the last minute?

In all likelihood, the Dolphins will extend Pouncey’s contract for a fifth year. He is too good of a player to let walk, and it buys Miami more time to decide if it wants to sign Pouncey to a long-term extension after the 2015 season.

A strong case can be made that Pouncey outperformed his rookie contract a season or two ago. But recent off-the-field issues, which include his involvement in last year’s bullying scandal, has given the Dolphins reason to pause. Pouncey may be even next season on the sidelines if the NFL decides to hand out suspensions for “Bullygate.”

Still, it’s not too hard of a decision to extend Pouncey for an extra season. It makes good football and business sense for the Dolphins.

New Miami general manager Dennis Hickey knew this deadline was coming for quite some time. There are only a few days left, and it would be surprising if the Dolphins allow Pouncey to hit the open market next year.