After Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey suffered an unfortunate hip injury during OTAs that will require surgery with a 3 to 4 month recovery time, the Dolphins began quietly considering their options, either sticking with in-house options or going the free agency route.
It appears that this Friday, they chose to go the free agency route since both Jason Cole (formerly of Yahoo Sports) and the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson have reported the Dolphins are bringing in veteran offensive lineman Daryn Colledge in for a visit. Jackson notes that the Dolphins under Dennis Hickey have made a formal offer to every veteran free agent that has visited, and if that pattern continues, Colledge (who has drawn interest from the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason) will likely receive an offer during his visit as well.
Colledge is 32 years old and a veteran player who has been active for every game of his 8 year NFL career after being drafted out of Boise State in the second round by the Green Bay Packers in 2006. He has 124 career starts to his name and while he has mostly started at left guard, he has some starting experience at every position on the offensive line except center, though he has played a handful of snaps at center due to in-game injuries. That type of experience at 4 out of 5 offensive line spots makes him a versatile option, and his 5 years spent with the Green Bay Packers including when Joe Philbin was the offensive coordinator means Colledge is well known to the current Dolphins head coach and thus could be expected to adapt to the Dolphins zone-blocking scheme reasonably well.
As you might expect for a player that is unemployed in late June, he does have some drawbacks. After signing a big free agency contract with the Cardinals in 2011 after the Packers won the Super Bowl, Colledge's performance began to decline from top 20 at his position per Pro Football Focus' (PFF) rankings to roughly league average. He had a below-average season last year for the Arizona Cardinals, who decided to cut him at the end of the season after Colledge had completed 3 years of his 5-year deal. He's generally been a better run blocker than pass blocker in his career by PFF's metrics, but the past two years, he hasn't been particularly good (or bad) at either.
However, Colledge is one of the best veteran interior offensive linemen available at this point due to his significant starting experience, history of durability, and ability to play at multiple positions on the offensive line. The Dolphins depth chart at interior offensive line has plenty of potential but very little NFL starting experience without Mike Pouncey. Veteran backup Shelley Smith, sophomores Sam Brenner and Dallas Thomas, as well as rookie Billy Turner have a combined 12 career NFL starts between them. Nate Garner has proven himself to be an admirable backup who has filled in as a starter 19 times in his career, but with Pouncey missing anywhere between 1 to 2 months of the regular season, the Dolphins would be incredibly vulnerable if a second interior offensive lineman (particularly Nate Garner) were injured during a game.
If the Dolphins sign Colledge, he should be relatively inexpensive - again, he's been sitting on his couch the entire offseason so far - and the signing would add more veteran depth to a position group weakened by injury. Most importantly, potentially signing Colledge now gives him time to learn the Bill Lazor playbook and get into football shape after missing offseason workouts so far as an unsigned free agent.
If Colledge is signed, my prediction is that veteran Nate Garner is the Dolphins starting center for the several games that Pouncey misses, with Sam Brenner filling the backup center role and Colledge being used as a backup OG/OT. Garner started the 2 games at center last season that Mike Pouncey missed due to his episode of gallbladder infection requiring hospitalization, and Garner did extremely well in pass protection against the Panthers and Chargers, allowing no sacks, QB hits, or QB pressures according to PFF - though Garner did struggle as a run-blocker against Carolina's talented defensive tackles. However, other possible lineup options include Colledge as starting center, Brenner as starting center, or even Shelly Smith as starting center (he took snaps at center during minicamp) with Colledge replacing Smith as the starting right guard.