There is no question that the Miami Dolphins offensive line will be different next season. We now know that the stop-gap left tackle Miami traded for will also be somewhere else. Both Bryant McKinnie and the Dolphins officially voided the final year of the LT’s contract. It was something that McKinnie said was agreed it upon at the time of the trade. It will save Miami about 1 million dollars of dead money had they released the 14 year veteran at seasons end.
The issue for the Dolphins now is they need a completely overhauled offensive line. It is looking more and more unlikely that Jonathan Martin will return and some question whether a return would be wise for the unit. The Dolphins offensive lineman have played better since he quit on his team. The instigator so to speak, Richie Incognito is currently suspended and while there is a tick’s chance he could return to the team this year, a very small chance, Incognito is a free agent at seasons end and it’s unlikely Miami will invest any more of Stephen Ross’ money on the OG.
With Martin and Incognito both likely gone and Mckinnie’s contract for 2014 voided, Mike Pouncey will return as the only veteran starter under contract. John Jerry will be a free agent while Nate Garner will be as well. The Dolphins have a rookie starting at LG in Sam Brenner but it’s unclear whether or not he is long term solution. It’s possible the Will Yeatman could return but he is coming off a season ending injury and we all know that the one year deal Tyson Clabo signed will not get extended.
How Miami fixes the offensive line is anyone’s guess at this point. With five games left in the season no one really wants to talk about 2014 but facts are facts and Miami has a huge hole standing in front of Ryan Tannehill.
Miami has given fans, three times this year, some of the worst rushing totals in franchise history. That in addition to the league leading sacks allowed on Tannehill. How this team approaches the positions will be defined by who is making that decision. Jeff Ireland stands to be the guy who will refit the line but more Dolphins losses could make it hard for Stephen Ross to retain his much maligned in the public eye GM. The same can be said for Joe Philbin who may or may not be patrolling the sidelines next season if the team collapses in the next five weeks.
Fortunately for Miami the task of fixing the offensive line won’t be a tough one. The team last year fixed the wide-receiving corp, added new LB’s, CB’s, and has some of the top defensive line depth in the NFL. Even with the possible loss of Randy Starks or Paul Soliai. Tight end was a point of contention as well but Miami is in decent shape with the emergence of Charles Clay and perhaps even Michael Egnew. The fact that almost every position is close to being fixed, the Dolphins can turn their attention to the start of free agency and the NFL Draft.
It’s difficult to foresee who could be on the free agent market come March but annually there are at least a few top players at a couple of the position to be had as the signings begin. The Dolphins could be as much as 35 million dollars under the cap when the league new year begins and a few contracts could be re-worked or terminated to give the team more money. The Dolphins should also be able to find ample talent in this years collegiate draft. While the team won’t be in position to hit on a top 10 talent they have had success drafting lineman in the middle of the first round, including Mike Pouncey.
For now it’s a waiting game as the rest of the season plays out and the investigation between two of the units teammates concludes. Then speculation can begin as to who will be available and for what price and it’s possible that McKinnie could find himself back with Miami if he doesn’t get FA offers to his liking. Regardless next years offensive line is going to look a lot different than this years. Let’s hope their production is too.