After Saturday's scrimmage, the Miami Dolphins made the move that many expected after the week of the botched snap in training camp practices. Despite the fact that the center/quarterback exchange wasn't an issue during Saturday's scrimmage (at least not with the first unit), the team decided it was necessary to bring in the former second round draft pick of the Dolphins, center Samson Satele.
The Dolphins began negotiating with Satele last week, but Satele turned down their original offer in anticipation that the center issues in Miami would continue and his leverage would improve. Satele was correct (and smart) with his negotiating strategy as the Dolphins eventually offered him a higher contract on Saturday, which he accepted.
While many will (justifiably) argue Satele's level of skill, as he was average at best for the Indianapolis Colts last season, this is a classic "low-risk, high reward" signing.
Satele was ousted from the Bill Parcells-ran Dolphins in the spring of 2009 because that coaching staff deemed that Satele lacked the physicality to anchor then-head coach Tony Sparano's power running game.
However, in the zone-blocking scheme that was implemented with the arrival of now-head coach Joe Philbin, Satele will be asked to knock heads directly with the mammoth defensive tackles in the AFC East less and will be able to be able to rely on his movement ability and football IQ more.
Satele presents a safe option at center who can snap the ball into the quarterback's hands cleanly every play. Satele will be able to get to the second level of a defense to block downfield on both running plays and screen plays. Satele, now a seven-year veteran of the NFL, will also leave no doubt in the coaches minds' as to whether he can handle all of the pre-play checks and calls to make sure the offensive line is ready for whatever challenges an opposing defense presents.
The signing of Satele says that the Shelley Smith experiment at center is likely over. And, more emphatically, it says the Dolphins don't feel comfortable with Sam Brenner and Nate Garner as the only options at center who have played in an NFL game.
This signing, at worst, provides the Dolphins with much-needed depth and security on the interior of the offensive line. At best, the Dolphins found a capable replacement for Mike Pouncey who will be able to keep the offensive line glued together.
The signing also allows the team to put Garner back in the utility closet without having to rely on Brenner to hold down the center position. While it's not impossible that Brenner, an undrafted free agent last year, eventually wins the replacement center position, it will benefit all involved for the opening day starting center to have earned his job instead of having it handed to him.
It should be noted that it's not all peaches and roses with this homecoming. Satele hasn't started a full 16-game season since he left Miami. Satele has also struggled with pass-blocking, which is evident when watching Colts' QB Andrew Luck implausibly avoid pressure that comes directly up the gut of the offensive line.
With that being said, this was a smart and necessary signing that eases the minds of many. While the ability level of Satele will be questioned, his transition to a full-time zone-blocking scheme will help his play and the addition will greatly help the offensive line overall.
This signing provides much-needed security on the interior of the offensive line and provides the Dolphins with a true center (who can play guard in a pinch) to amp up the competition throughout camp.