After leading the league in sacks allowed, it’s no surprise that the Miami Dolphins will be looking to fix their offensive line woes to keep their third-year quarterback clean in the pocket.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Miami will roughly have around $32 million to spend via free agency after rolling over $18 mill of unused cap space last season. Miami will also have to bring back a few key free agents such as CB Brent Grimes, DT Paul Soliai or Randy Starks, S Chris Clemons, and has a number of other decisions to make on other key contributors.
And many reports are now circulating that Miami is expected to “go hard” after former Kansas City Chiefs‘ left tackle, Branden Albert. That name should ring a bell as Miami was in talks last spring just before the 2013 NFL Draft to acquire Albert for a second round selection, but a deal was not agreed upon, and Albert remained in Kansas City where he started 12 games and allowed 4 sacks.
Outside of Albert, Miami could certainly look towards building their offensive line through free agency due to this class’ deep pool of free agent tackles. Oakland’s Jared Veldheer comes to mind, but with Oakland owning the most significant amount of cap space this offseason, it’s likely the team will either slap the franchise tag on the 6’8” tackle, or they will find a way to work out a reasonable deal.
Another name that comes to mind is someone that Brian Catanzaro of finnation.com has been interested in the possibility of Miami bringing to town in Cincinnati tackle Anthony Collins. Collins is a young tackle at just 28 years of age, and did not allow a single sack last season filling in along Cincinnati’s offensive line. But, Cincinnati may prioritize Collins over star DE Michael Johnson, whom will command a decent pay-day after being slapped with the franchise tag in 2013.
Baltimore LT Eugene Monroe is another name that comes to mind who is a young tackle that Miami could certainly build their line around. If Monroe is allowed to test the market, which is quite doubtful as Baltimore needs to fix their line also, Miami should place Monroe’s name atop their “wish list”.
So let’s take a look at what we can do with Miami’s offensive line to potentially “fix” it for the next few seasons:
Once the league year begins, and free agency kicks off, new general manager Dennis Hickey and his goons should call up Collins, Monroe, and Albert’s agents to get a feel for what they would command in terms of incentive.
Let’s say Albert is commanding way too much money, and Hickey does not want to make a “big splash” such as signing an injury-prone left tackle. And Baltimore announces a deal has been struck with Monroe to keep him in Baltimore for the next few seasons.
Miami should be all over Collins and his agent to make him the newest member of the Miami Dolphins. Let’s say the team strikes a deal for 4-5 years.
But Hickey and co. should not stop here. Miami needs to find another tackle to stabilize the right tackle position. Enter former St. Louis Rams’ RT Rodger Saffold.
No, I would not be ecstatic if Miami were to bring Saffold on board, but he does present a decent right tackle option for this team. He is still relatively young and has performed well in spurts during his young career with St. Louis. And, he will not command a ton of cap space.
As of right now, Miami’s offensive line looks like this:
LT – Anthony Collins
LG – Sam Brenner
C – Mike Pouncey
RG – Dallas Thomas?
RT – Rodger Saffold
Miami is done as of right now in terms of adding offensive line help via free agency. Hell, the team does not even need to add two tackles via free agency, but it would be a smart decision to add two offensive linemen be it two tackles, two guards, a tackle and a guard, a center moving Pouncey to guard? Just add two.
Next up is the NFL Draft where Miami will not be in a prime position to add a top tier offensive tackle, and is not in a position to add a guard at 19.
But, Miami decides to strike a deal with a playoff team looking to move up for a specific player.
Now sitting in that late 20 range, Miami has the ability to add either a tackle or guard.
This is where Hickey makes his move and selects a versatile offensive lineman who can play both guard and tackle if need be in Notre Dame T/G Zack Martin.
Martin presents a solid option due to his size and upside. He played well during his tenure with Notre Dame, but I’m not a fan of him as a left tackle. I honestly think he is a solid option as a left or right guard in the pros.
Obviously, Miami now has the majority of the offensive line taken care of looking like so:
LT – Anthony Collins
LG – Zack Martin
C – Mike Pouncey
RG – Sam Brenner
RT – Rodger Saffold
Dennis Hickey could decide to roll the dice with Brenner as the team’s right guard, or even see what Dallas Thomas has in the tank. This would allow Miami’s new general manager to now draft either BPA or to fill needs such as DT, RB, TE, CB, LB, S, etc.
Hickey could also opt to look at a few later round options such as Wesley Johnson, Brandon Thomas, Dakota Dozier, Brandon Linder, Kadeem Edwards, etc.
Miami could also opt to take a look at a few tackles during round one – if they trade back – such as Morgan Moses, Zack Martin, Antonio Richardson, Jack Mewhort, Billy Turner, or James Hurst.
Again, all of these moves depend on a few key things:
First off, Dennis Hickey needs to retain CB Brent Grimes. Grimes needs to be Hickey’s first move as GM of the ‘phins, without a doubt.
Secondly, Hickey needs to find a left tackle through free agency. I like the upside of Michigan LT Taylor Lewan, but I’m not so sure he falls to Miami at 19. Hickey’s second move should be to bring in a stud left tackle, be it Albert, Monroe, Collins, or someone else.
Third, Hickey needs to lock up either Starks or Soliai. No preference there. Just bring one of them back on a team friendly deal.
Lastly, make a splash somewhere. Bring in a stud corner to pair with Grimes, or sign a big name safety to pair with Jones as an upgrade over Clemons, hell bring in another stud tackle or guard, just do something to excite the fan base.