AFC East: Al Johnson
They have one of the game's best left tackles in Jake Long. Right tackle Vernon Carey is effective.
But all the clutter between those bookends makes me wonder how the Dolphins can be considered elite. In the three years since Bill Parcells assumed control of football operations and hired offensive-line coach Tony Sparano to run the show, the Dolphins have turned over their interior with alarming frequency.
The Dolphins on Thursday released center Jake Grove. The Dolphins identified him as a critical upgrade last year and signed him to a four-year, $29 million contract.
Now Grove is gone, just like their big free-agent signing from 2008, left guard Justin Smiley. The Dolphins signed Smiley for five years and $25 million. He lasted two seasons.
They'll use their third center over the past three opening days and have constantly changed guards.
No other unit in football depends on chemistry as much as an offensive line, but the Dolphins have been malcontents with their centers and guards.
Let's take a look at O-line personnel the Dolphins have rototilled since Parcells, Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland came aboard with emphasis on starters.
Hired offensive line coach Mike Maser in January 2008, fired him in January 2009.
Hired offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo in January 2009.
Smiley started 12 games in 2008, 12 games in 2009 (released).
Andy Alleman started five games, including postseason, in 2008 (traded).
Nate Garner started four games in 2009 (injured reserve).
Richie Incognito projected 2010 starter.
Samson Satele started 16 games in 2008 (traded).
Al Johnson was 2008 backup (released).
Grove started 10 games in 2009 (released).
Joe Berger started six games in 2009, projected 2010 starter.
Donald Thomas opened 2008 season with job, started 12 games in 2009 (released).
Ikechuku Ndukwe started 15 games in 2008 (traded).
Garner started four games in 2009 (injured reserve).
John Jerry projected 2010 starter.
Guard Shawn Murphy, 2008 fourth-round draft pick deactivated all 22 games (released).
Center/guard Steve McKinney played zero games in 2008 (released).
Guard Evan Mathis played seven games in 2008 (released).
Guard Matt McChesney played one game in 2008 (injured reserve/released).
Guard Andrew Hartline played two games in 2009 (released, practice squad).
Guard Cory Procter signed, released last week and re-signed Thursday.
Tackle/guard Pat McQuistan acquired last week in a trade.
The unanswerable question I'm referring to: "How does the NFL determine compensatory picks?"
Nobody knows because the league refuses to provide detailed insight into the formula. We know it depends on the number of free agents gained and lost the previous offseason and how well those players performed that year. Factors include the player's salary, playing time and awards -- we think.
But there's a compensatory vigilante out there who goes by the handle AdamJT13. He seems to have darn near cracked the code and has been giving accurate forecasts for 10 years.
My personal policy is not to link to people who write anonymously, but AdamJT13 has a track record and provides a unique service. With that in mind, here are his compensatory projections for AFC East clubs. The NFL will announce the official rundown in a couple weeks.
Buffalo Bills: None. They signed two qualifying free agents (quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, center Geoff Hangartner) and lost two (cornerback Jabari Greer, linebacker Angelo Crowell). AdamJT13 adds the Bills could get a compensatory pick at the end of the seventh round based on net value of the players lost, depending on the evaluations.
Miami Dolphins: Sixth-round pick. AdamJT13 notes it might be a seventh-rounder, or depending on how the NFL views guard Joe Berger, nothing at all. They signed one definite qualifying free agent (center Jake Grove) and lost two definites (cornerback Andre' Goodman and safety Renaldo Hill).
New England Patriots: Four seventh-round picks for losing receiver Jabar Gaffney, long-snapper Lonie Paxton, fullback Heath Evans and running back LaMont Jordan, but not signing any definite qualifying free agents. Gaffney could be good enough for a sixth-rounder.
New York Jets: None. They signed at least as many qualifying free agents (linebacker Bart Scott, safety Jim Leonhard, cornerback Donald Strickland and maybe linebacker Larry Izzo) as they lost (receiver Laveranues Coles, linebacker Eric Barton, defensive end C.J. Mosley and maybe cornerback Hank Poteat).
AFC East unrestricted free agents have been popular over the past week.
In a chart compiled by NFC West helmsman Mike Sando, we see that only 62 percent of the AFC East's free-range players are still on the market. Only the NFC South has a lower percentage of players still up for bids.
The Dolphins had seven players with expiring contracts. Three of them (tackle Vernon Carey, safety Yeremiah Bell, linebacker Channing Crowder) re-signed, and two (cornerback Andre Goodman, safety Renaldo Hill) joined the Denver Broncos.
The New England Patriots have 10 unsigned UFAs out of 17. The New York Jets have nine out of 13, and the Buffalo Bills have six out of nine.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Compared to the other AFC East clubs, the Miami Dolphins don't have many free agents to worry about. But almost every one was a significant contributor to their 11-5 season last year, and most were starters.
Five of their seven unrestricted free agents accounted for 70 starts.
The Dolphins are about $25 million to $27 million under the salary cap.
Unrestricted (free to negotiate with other teams beginning Feb. 27)
- S Yeremiah Bell
- T Vernon Carey
- LB Channing Crowder
- CB Andre Goodman
- S Renaldo Hill
- C Al Johnson
- WR Tab Perry
Restricted (Dolphins have right to match offer from other team)
Exclusive rights (cannot negotiate with other teams if tendered qualifying offer)