The Dolphins have never come out and said this, but the current administration’s moves on the offensive line reveal what they’ve thought about guards: You can find them anywhere.
Their streak of signing under-the-radar free agents and waiting until the late rounds of the NFL Draft to address the position ended today with the agreement to bring in Josh Sitton on a two-year deal worth up to $18 million.
That’s a beefy contract for a beefy man. It’s reasonable, though, and gives them a quality player on the line without compromising any long-term rebuilding plans.
Sitton checks in at 6-foot-4, 320 pounds and was ranked the No. 5 guard in the league last season by Pro Football Focus. He’s a 31-year-old with four Pro Bowl selections and 147 games on his record between a long run with Green Bay and a two-year stop in Chicago (he did not overlap with Adam Gase there).
He’s certainly going to help Laremy Tunsil if Miami plugs him in at left guard. He’s played both guard spots and occasionally filled in at tackle over his 10-year career.
This is a different target than the Dolphins have pursued in the last two offseasons. A year ago, they signed journeyman Ted Larsen to a three-year, $5.7 million contract, scooped up Jesse Davis after he’d bounced around practice squads and waited until the 164th to select a guard in the draft. That pick, Isaac Asiata, wasn’t ready to contribute in 2017.
The 2016 offseason was similar. The Dolphins spent their first-round pick on Tunsil planning for him to move to left tackle as soon as possible, but asked him to do a year at left guard first because they still had Branden Albert. Gase recruited former left tackle Jermon Bushrod to change positions and play right guard.
None of the other names they’ve brought in are particularly recognizable, and not making guard a high priority seems like it’s undercut some of the resources the Dolphins have poured into the line.
They had first-round picks at left tackle (Tunsil), center (Mike Pouncey) and right tackle (Ja’Wuan James) last season, but the line was always suspect. Tunsil and James remain in place with a lot to prove, and the line’s overall challenge is tougher now that Pouncey has been released.
The Dolphins now have three starting caliber guards in Sitton, Davis and Larsen.
Sitton is by far the most accomplished of the group and wouldn’t be choosing Miami if it meant he’d be fighting it out for a starting job. He’s been primarily a left guard the last five years, so that’s probably where he fits with the Dolphins.
That pits Davis and Larsen against each other in one of the most intriguing position battles of Miami’s offseason. Maybe one of them can play center, though third-year man Jake Brendel intends to compete for that spot. The Dolphins worked Larsen at center last spring when they held Pouncey out of Organized Team Activities.
Having Larsen or Davis as a backup is a great option for the Dolphins, and that’s not to be overlooked. They had four players start at least six games at guard last year.
Offensive guard is probably the most boring position on the field to discuss, but it gets a little more interesting for the Dolphins now that they’re swinging big on Sitton.
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