Once the lockout finally does end, the Miami Dolphins will have a couple of interesting decisions to make along the offensive line. The interior line is obviously where most of the focus will be. But I think that it would be unwise to assume that Vernon Carey's roster spot is safe this year.
Vernon Carey, Right Tackle
Why the Dolphins should keep him
Prior to the end of the 2010 season, "Big Vern" has been the model of consistency in Miami since his rookie season in 2004. Prior to being listed as inactive last year against the Jets in week 14, Carey had played in 104 consecutive regular season games dating back to his rookie year - including a streak of 87 consecutive starts.
Just as impressive as his streaks has been his consistent play. Regardless of how successful the team has been, Carey has been as steady an offensive tackle as there is in the game. His versatility is also worth noting. His experience at left tackle is invaluable to this team, who lacks solid depth behind current left tackle Jake Long.
Why the Dolphins should cut him
The obvious reason centers around money, of course. Carey will see his salary jump from $950,000 in 2010 to $4.15 million in 2011 - with his salary escalating to over $5 million in '12. That is a lot of money for an average right tackle.
What? Average? Yes - I said it. Based on the study done by Pro Football Focus, Vernon Carey was the 15th ranked right tackle in 2010 in terms of pass protection. Meanwhile, according to Football Outsiders, the Dolphins ranked 15th in the league in running behind their right tackle. So yes - average is what Carey was in 2010.
Carey also didn't finish 2010. And even though he had started 87 consecutive games, Vernon had been plagued by knee/leg ailments for much of the past few years. Then in December, he finally underwent knee surgery - of which we have no idea the severity as the team never disclosed what exactly was done.
Lydon Murtha, meanwhile, said earlier this offseason that he was told he'd be competing for the starting right tackle job this year. The third year pro would be considerably cheaper than Carey and is about five years younger than the soon to be 30 year old veteran.
While I don't see the Dolphins getting rid of a vet like Carey without having confidence in the player who would replace him, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Carey could get get cut if he doesn't prove to be that much better than Murtha in camp.