We continue taking a look at the men in the trenches this week. After discussing free agents at guard last week, we move to the tackles this week. Unfortunately, the options don't appear too enticing. While there are four solid options at guard, the options at tackle yield maybe only a single solid option
Demetrius Bell: The closest solid option you'll see at tackle. Bell was limited to seven games last year, but was an effective blocker at LT. He did a decent job opening holes on the left side of the line and in seven starts, he surrendered only a single sack and one QB hit. He would obviously move to the right side if he were to sign with Miami. He's not worth top money, but he may receive inflated offers in free agency because many teams need tackles and there are a number of teams with much more cap space than Miami.
Jared Gaither: Never a sure thing to give you an entire year, Gaither finished the season in San Diego. He was signed to replace the injured Marcus McNeal at LT and he was immediately placed into the starting lineup. In his five starts, Gaither didn't allow a single sack and only allowed three QB pressures. Overall, he did very well and would've been one of the better OTs had he played like that over the course of an entire season. The big question is how many games will you get out of him? A cheaper and solid option, but you should have depth at the position too in case he can't go the distance.
Vernon Carey: Many would like to see him move outside, but you must remember that he didn't have a good season in 2010 when he was at RT. His lack of mobility is getting to him and he struggled with rushers that had any decent burst to get around the edge. Besides the loss of his ability, he struggles to stay healthy. It seemed you could see him limping off the field, even for a few plays, nearly every Sunday when you turn on a Dolphin game. He can be brought back for depth, but he's better suited for guard at this point.
Jeff Backus: He has been Detroit's LT for several years and would have to shift to RT. His play has been on the decline and he will be 35 by next September. It's just not worthwhile for Miami to give him a look.
Kareem McKenzie: Like Carey, he was once one of the better RTs in the NFL. Also like Carey, his play has been on the decline. McKenzie ranked 65th of all OTs in 2011 and while he surrendered 6 sacks, he also allowed 47 QB pressures. In comparison, our resident WalMart Greeter known as Marc Colombo surrendered 9 sacks and allowed 35 QB pressures.
Max Starks: He played decently in 12 starts at LT for the Steelers last season. He hasn't been particularly strong in run blocking or pass protection, but it is possible a move to the right side could benefit him. He would be a cheaper option, but he would likely need competition for the starting job.
Trai Essex: Another Pittsburgh OT. Essex filled in at both LT and RT last year and he has even started at guard in his career. Essex has been uninspiring at each of the positions and shouldn't be considered as an upgrade at any spot on the offensive line. That being said, he could be a cheap option if Miami was looking for depth along the OL. His versatility will help him find a team.
Other notable free agents: Barry Richardson, Kirk Chambers, Artis Hicks, Robert Turner, Adam Goldberg, Sean Locklear, Khalif Barnes, Ryan O'Callaghan, and Anthony Collins.