We're just a couple of days away from the beginning of free agency in the NFL. And this is the time when the rumors really start flying.
One thing that's been rumored for a while is how the Dolphins are looking to upgrade at the center position. Bill Parcells loves having big, strong, monster centers on his teams. Samson Satele, unfortunately, is just not that guy. He's undersized and has short arms - making him struggle mightily against some of the NFL's big, physical nose tackles.
Luckily for the Dolphins, Ravens' center Jason Brown could very well hit the open market when free agency begins at midnight eastern on Thursday night. Brown's agent, Harold Lewis, has publicly said that he doesn't think the Ravens will be able to sign both of his clients - Brown and LB Bart Scott. And the Baltimore Sun will is reporting that the Ravens are getting closer to inking a deal with Scott, leading us all to believe Brown will indeed get the chance to test the free agent waters.
What this means for the Dolphins is that they might have a chance to land their new starting center as soon as Friday. The Miami Herald is just one of the sources to be reporting that the Dolphins have a high interest in Brown. Writes Jeff Darlington:
As the start of free agency nears, the Miami Dolphins' interest in Baltimore Ravens center Jason Brown appears to be increasing each day, several sources said.
Speculation at the NFL Scouting Combine continued to build that Miami is targeting Brown as its clear top choice to replace Samson Satele as Miami's starter in the middle. Unless the Ravens can reach a new contract with Brown, he will become a free agent Friday.
That's encouraging to hear - at least to me - because the idea of adding Brown this offensive line gives me visions of "Ronnie Brown running wild" in my head. But he's not going to come cheap. Some reports indicate Brown is looking to be the game's highest paid center and is actually seeking "Alan Faneca money." But the National Football Post, run by former NFL exec Michael Lombardi, writes this:
From talking to clubs and sources in Indianapolis, all indications are that the Dolphins, who need to improve the inside of their offensive line, will make a huge push to sign Brown, who along with Bart Scott seems to be on the sign-right-away list. Samson Satele, Miami’s current center, is too short-armed and lacks range for the Fins to be the kind of productive line they want to be; he’s more of a back-up than a starter. The Fins must upgrade at center, and Brown would help them do that. One thing we know for sure, the Fins will strike at midnight.
While I'm sure the Dolphins will make a very fair offer to Jason Brown, is there a chance Brown might take a little less money to play in Miami?
His agent told the Baltimore Sun:
''A lot of players are all about [what team] can get me the most. I'm pretty blessed in having clients who aren't about who is the highest. It's who is the best fit."
"We're going to fight for every nickel and dime we possibly can. But the most important thing is to address what the players' wants are and their families' wants are.''
It's also believed that Jason, according to "a friend," likes Miami and would strongly consider an offer from the Dolphins.
So why should Dolphin fans get excited over, of all things, a center? At 6'3, 320, he's exactly what this regime loves from their centers. And his best days are still ahead of him, as he'll be only 26 in May. His addition would mean that Miami's offensive line would be set at 3 positions for the foreseeable future - adding Brown to Jake Long and Vernon Carey. If Donald Thomas turned out to be as good as this regime thinks he might be based on what they saw last training camp, and if Justin Smiley can get back to 100% after his injury last year, this offensive line could be downright dominant.
But I decided to go right to Ravens' fans to see what they had to say about Brown. After all, they've seen him in action far more than any of us probably have. Below is what one Ravens' fan, "Bullrush," said about Brown on the Ravens' team message board:
Brown doesn't have many weaknesses. Although he looks like a typical mauler, he's just as good in pass protection. I don't really recall us having any issues with DT's/NT's this season, and we pretty much played the best ones in the NFL on a regular basis. Haynesworth twice, shut him down. Hampton twice, shut him down. Rogers twice, shut him down. Then you have Ratliff, who is different than those big guys but he's a pro bowler as well and Brown shut him down. He did record a half a sack I believe, but that was vs our RG (Chester). Brown is big and strong yet he's got quick hands and feet. He can pull, and he's terrific when it comes to 2nd level blocking (linebackers, safeties), very useful on screens etc.
He can handle big NT's one on one and you have 2 of those in your division (Wilfork, Jenkins) so I can understand why the Dolphins would want to have him.
His only weakness really is that he's still young and that he's not as experienced as some of those other guys. And I don't even know if that's a weakness, because he'll get even better the next few years. Right now he's still young, he played center for only one season so he's not as good as say Kevin Mawae or Jeff Saturday when it comes to figuring out blitz schemes, stunts and all that. That stuff comes with experience. I just know that there isn't a guard or center I would rather have. The ones that are better (slightly) are already 30+ years old, and they can't even play both positions.