With free agency fast approaching and the NFL draft under two months away, the direction that the Miami Dolphins plant to take in rebuilding the team’s roster is beginning to materialize. We’ve heard multiple times this offseason that the team is planning to build from the inside out, meaning a priority will be placed on reshaping both the offensive and defensive lines. While we’ve already discussed how that philosophy will impact some players on the defensive side of the ball, new information has emerged regarding the team’s front five on offense.
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, veteran guard Josh Sitton expects to be released by the Dolphins at some point this offseason. With the front office looking to get younger and cheaper at most positions, this move would fall in line with that way of thinking. Sitton, 32, was a phenomenal player through most of his career in Green Bay and Chicago and was looking like a great signing by Miami after the team inked him to a 2-year $13.5 million contract last offseason. Unfortunately, a torn rotator cuff ended his 2018 campaign after just one game, and Sitton spent the rest of the year on injured reserve.
By releasing Sitton, Miami would clear a $7 million cap hit while incurring just $2 million in dead money.
When it comes to starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James, the Dolphins are hoping to strike an extension before free agency opens on March 13th. James, who will be 27 in June, was drafted by Miami in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and has been a steady force at right tackle ever since. He’s by no means a Hall of Fame caliber player, but he and fellow first-round selection Laremy Tunsil formed one of the best tackle duos in the league last season and would be a strong foundation on an offensive line that is sure to be holding down the fort for a rookie quarterback in the next year or two.
In terms of James’ salary, he’s sure to be paid as a top 5 right tackle, which will be far less expensive than the high end salaries paid to left tackles. At the left tackle position, the top 15 highest salaries all exceed an average of $10 million per year. At right tackle, only Lane Johnson’s salary exceeds an average of $10 million per year. Bears right tackle Bobby Massie’s new contract extension, which has an average salary of $7.7 million per year, will likely serve as a base at the negotiating table.
While it remains to be seen if the Dolphins will be willing to pay that price, the front office certainly sees re-signing James as a priority.