Yesterday I quickly highlighted some of the decisions facing the Miami Dolphins at the quarterback, running back, and receiver positions. Today we close the week by finishing up our summary - with quick looks at the tight end position and the offensive line.
Anthony Fasano isn't going anywhere. He signed a contract extension back in November and is coming off of a career year despite being asked to stay in and block on a number of passing situations due to Miami's struggles up front along the offensive line. Fasano isn't the seam-stretcher this offense needs, though.
None of the three other tight ends did anything noteworthy. The only other TE besides Fasano to have a single reception was Mickey Shuler. He'll likely battle with Dedrick Epps and Jeron Mastrud to stick with the team. But the Dolphins biggest decision regarding the TE position will be exactly how to improve the group.
The Dolphins have a need for a new backup tackle, as Lydon Murtha wasn't cutting it as the primary backup. But the question that I believe the front office might be pondering is if they might be able to survive without right tackle Vernon Carey. Carey missed games this year with an injury for the first time since his rookie season in 2004 and has regularly played through injuries. I commend him for his toughness. But he'll be 30 when the season rolls around. And you have to wonder about his health and his contract. He's owed just under $20 million over the next four seasons - including $4.15 million next year. Could that be enough to be replaced?
Interior Offensive Line
This is the group that needs the most drastic face lift. The Dolphins couldn't run the football in 2010 largely because this group got little push in the trenches. Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland now have some major decisions to make.
The first decision revolves around Richie Incognito. Signed last offseason, Incognito proved to be a decent left guard. More importantly, he kept out of trouble - something he hasn't had the ability to do with previous teams. But that temper was held in check. Most importantly, though, regarding his immediate future in Miami, Richie played well in his limited action as the team's center. The Dolphins now must decide if a new contract and a permanent shift to center will be in Incognito's future.
I hope it is.
The versatile Pat McQuistan is a free agent as well. Joe Berger, meanwhile, has one year left on his deal that'll pay him $800,000 in 2011. John Jerry, who initially started the first several games of his NFL career, will be back. And Nate Garner, who spent all of the season on IR but was penciled in as a starter heading into camp, is scheduled to be a restricted free agent. Expect Garner to be back, though, and battling for the starting right guard spot.
In a perfect world, the Dolphins would go out and sign an elite left guard, re-sign Incognito at center, and then let Garner, Jerry, and maybe McQuistan battle for the starting right guard spot. But this obviously isn't a perfect world. And how this interior line shapes up for 2011 is anybody's guess.
But I do know this: outside of the quarterback decisions to be made, the most important decisions made this offseason will revolve around Miami's interior line.