There’s little doubt in my mind that the offensive line improved from 2015 to 2016. However, there’s a tremendous amount of volatility in projecting this unit for 2017.
Laremy Tunsil was the 42nd ranked guard per Pro Football Focus, yet we didn’t hear his name called that often, which is a good thing for an offensive lineman. We saw a glimpse of the future when Tunsil played at LT when Branden Albert was injured.
Jermon Bushrod was likely a hilariously-named one year band-aid at RG.
Branden Albert appears on the injury report with regularity and turns 33 during the 1st month of the 2017 NFL season. As a post-June 1st casualty, releasing Albert would create around $1.7 million in dead money, but provide $8.9 million in cap relief. His leadership, locker room presence, and intangibles cannot be overlooked in this decision. Branden Albert does have experience playing guard, and perhaps the clear rapport Adam Gase and Albert have could catalyze a peaceful passing of the torch if that’s the route the Miami Dolphins decide to take.
Mike Pouncey’s reoccurring hip injuries are a legitimate concern, and opens the door for a business decision to be made: he’d cost $3 million in dead money, with almost $6 million in cap relief. The medical staff’s evaluation will be vital in determining what happens with Mike Pouncey. I’ve heard rumblings of a contract restructuring (ditto for Branden Albert as well), so we’ll see how those potential negotiations play out.
Needless to say, the Miami Dolphins offensive line continues to be in flux. Considering we’re likely to invest a majority of our off-season resources shoring up the defense, we’ll have to be shrewd in making sure our offense as a whole doesn’t take a step back.
Would a Tunsil transition to his eventual position of LT be overkill this off-season with the other question marks on the OL? In this scenario, Albert stays at LT, Tunsil at LG, Ja’Wuan James at RT, and limit the scope of the offensive line overhaul to just RG and maybe C.
Or might we make a short-term sacrifice and make the transition now, thereby reducing potential question marks in the future? In this scenario, Tunsil plays LT, James RT, RG remains up in the air, C remains up in the air to a lesser degree, and LG may or may not be manned by Albert who may or may not still be good at the position.
We’re already rumored to be targeting guard in free agency - the number of guards we sign will speak loudly about the Tunsil debate. The 2017 Miami Dolphins regular season schedule is littered with upper echelon pass rushers that would test even the mightiest LT. Either we throw our Jack the Bong Ripper to the wolves or we decide it’s best to delay the decision another year. Laremy Tunsil will eventually be the LT of the Miami Dolphins, but when?