INDIANAPOLIS—The Dolphins think they have one piece to their offensive line puzzle for 2018, they just don’t know where he fits.
Jesse Davis earned the status of being a starter for the upcoming season by playing well in 10 starts at left guard, right guard and right tackle, plus significant playing time off the bench. He almost certainly fits somewhere on the line going forward, likely at one of those spots.
There are two approaches the Dolphins can take. The first is to determine what position Davis can play best and proceed to fill the other holes. The other is to wait and see who they can get in free agency and the draft, then plug Davis into whatever vacancy remains.
Their philosophy on Davis seems to have shifted a few times throughout the past year. While coaches praised his versatility, they also said moving around prevented him from being excellent at any one position.
At this moment, with free agency opening in a little over a week and several top linemen in their range in the first or second round, the team seems to be holding off on declaring Davis as a guard or tackle until it sees who’s available.
“We’ll just see how everything kinda plays out,” coach Adam Gase said at the NFL Combine. “We have a lot of time here. We have to make decisions on so many players and kinda see how free agency goes, see how the draft goes. We’ll kinda sort through all this stuff. We want to just try to get as many guys as we can to compete in that room and try to find a way to make ourselves better.”
The certainties on the line are that Laremy Tunsil will be at left tackle and Mike Pouncey is playing center. Everything else is in flux.
Right tackle Ja’Wuan James is under contract on a $9.3 million team option, but the team can rescind that.
Ted Larsen is heading into the second season of a three-year, $5.7 million deal, but the team faces a relatively small hit if it moves on from him this offseason. Larsen was the starting left guard last year, but said he would like to play right guard going forward.
Davis has a spot somewhere after proving himself last year, and he’s got additional job security because of the fact that he’s playing for $555,000 this season. That’s exactly the kind of bargain the Dolphins need with Pouncey’s massive contract on the books, but they still need to figure out how to get the most out of it.
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