Dolphins sign Bushrod but offensive line far from fixed

Dec 24, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Miami Dolphins offensive guard Jermon Bushrod (74) against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 24, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Miami Dolphins offensive guard Jermon Bushrod (74) against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Dolphins brought back one of their own on Thursday night re-signing guard Jermon Bushrod.

Full details of the contract wasn’t immediately known but it’s likely similar to last off-season when Bushrod signed a one year deal in the neighborhood of $1.5 million. Bushrod started all 16 games last season after beating out Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner who were eventually released.

The addition of Bushrod gives the Dolphins a starting guard but in no way does Bushrod make the Dolphins offensive line better. In 2016 the Dolphins offensive line played well when all the pieces were on the field at the same time and yes Bushrod was part of that line that played well. However Ja’Wuan James struggled a lot last year and injury concerns to Mike Pouncey still exist.

On the left side of the line the Dolphins are hoping that Ted Larsen will start at left guard. Larsen is good but like Bushrod he is average or slightly better than average. The Dolphins opted to not jump into the free spending free agency market where teams like the Browns threw high contract amounts to guards in excess of $10 million per season. Miami’s approach has changed.

Instead of spending a lot of money at the guard position the Dolphins are looking for veteran fixes but in order for this type of planning to work, they need to develop young players out of the draft. This means that they have to draft a guard.

Many believe that Miami will seriously consider Western Kentucky left tackle Forrest Lamp in round one. Lamp is a four-year starting left tackle that is projected to be a guard in the NFL. The addition of Lamp would make the Dolphins offensive line very good and potentially one of the better lines in the NFL. With a caveat. Pouncey stays healthy and James actually starts showing reasons why he was a first round draft pick. Barring those three the left side of the line will be very good.

Miami has been playing games with the offensive line for many years now. In part those issues are due to draft picks that have never worked out. Turner and Thomas were supposed to be answers but neither had but maybe one or two solid games in their career and that is a push. Ja’Wuan James is a first round draft pick but plays with a 4th round grade.

Jamil Douglas never reached his potential and everyone remembers the monumental Jonathan Martin mistake. Miami’s problems will continue until they can find players who will develop into starters.

For now the Dolphins appear content on heading into the off-season with Bushrod and Larsen playing guard and that’s o.k. for this year but the Dolphins need to look towards the future as well. With an offense that is on the verge of playing at a level not seen in Miami since the Dan Marino years the offensive line is a huge piece of that puzzle. There are pieces there but are they the right ones? The answer is yes to an extent.

Bushrod was well-respected in the locker room and a leader so having him back in the fold is a smart football decision but his time in the NFL is winding down. Miami was smart not to overspend on big name free agents who commanded and received hefty contracts but at some point the Dolphins have to get better options and again, maybe the draft will afford the team another opportunity like it did last year with Laremy Tunsil.