AFC East: Mike Pouncey

One term you hear over and over from the Miami Dolphins' coaching staff is "position flexibility." Head coach Joe Philbin values players who can be plugged in at multiple spots, even if they're better at some positions than others, because injuries happen.

Colledge
Philbin wants as many versatile players on his roster as possible. Going by that train of thought, Monday’s signing of veteran offensive lineman Daryn Colledge to a one-year contract made sense for the Dolphins. Miami did not sign a true center to replace injury Pro Bowler Mike Pouncey, who is out for at least 3-4 months following hip surgery. The Dolphins got a dependable, durable player who provides options for Miami’s offensive line.

Colledge, 32, is a longtime starter for the Green Bay Packers, where Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was an assistant, and most recently the Arizona Cardinals. He’s started 97 consecutive games dating back to the end of the 2007 season. Colledge is a "plug-and-play" veteran who could be ready by Week 1 despite missing Miami's entire offseason program.

The bigger question is this: Where would Colledge play?

Most of Colledge’s experience is at guard, and moving a new player out of his natural place may be a bit risky. The Dolphins have plenty of in-house options, such as moving starting right guard Shelley Smith to center or playing backups Sam Brenner or Nate Garner at center. The Dolphins will have a full training camp and preseason to work through their options. Colledge provides flexibility to move players around. They can try his hand at center or he can become a valuable backup.

Either way, Miami is expected to have five new starters on its offensive line when it hosts the New England Patriots in the regular-season opener. It’s not an idea situation, especially when learning a new scheme under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. But the Colledge signing at least is a step in the right direction.
The bad news struck down like a hammer on Monday afternoon. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey will miss 3-4 months following major hip surgery.

Pouncey was probably the player the Dolphins could least afford to lose early in the season. According to his timeline, Pouncey could miss the first couple of games or even be put on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and miss the first six games, depending on his progress. Either way, it’s horrendous news for a Dolphins team trying to end a five-year playoff drought.

But now it’s time for Miami to move forward and find the best contingency plan possible. Here is a look at the Dolphins’ remaining options at center:

Brenner
1. Sam Brenner

Why it can work: When Pouncey missed time during mandatory minicamp, Brenner was the starting center and received a bulk of the reps. That's a clue to what Miami’s top in-house contingency plan is. Brenner, as an undrafted rookie, shined at guard last year. He was a four-game starter who performed well in a short period and impressed the coaching staff. The Dolphins may ask him to do the same for a month or so to start this season.

Why it can’t work: Brenner has never started at center at any level. He played guard for the Dolphins last year and guard and left tackle in college for the University of Utah. The fact that Miami worked Brenner as the No. 2 center this offseason shows its coaching staff believes he can make the transition. But you never know for sure until Brenner performs well in a real game situation. Do the Dolphins want Brenner learning on the job against the AFC East rival New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills? Both opponents have good players on the defensive line.

Garner
2. Nate Garner

Why it can work: Garner is Miami’s most versatile backup. Despite his lanky frame (6-foot-7), Garner started at center for two games last season when Pouncey had a health ailment. The Dolphins were 1-1 in those games and Garner held his own. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin may revert back to what was comfortable for him last season in game situations (Garner) versus what he’s currently doing in practice (Brenner).

Why it can’t work: Garner hasn’t played center during the entire offseason program. Those reps went to Pouncey and Brenner. For the Dolphins to completely switch the plan at this stage and go back to Garner would seem like a patch-work idea. Garner’s biggest strength is he can play every position. But the bad news is he’s average -- at best -- at every position. Average may not be good enough in the middle of Miami’s offensive line.

Smith
3. Shelley Smith

Why it can work: Smith, who signed as a free agent from the St. Louis Rams this year, has experience at center. The Dolphins have looked into it a little just on an exploratory basis. But this option has to receive more consideration now that Pouncey is on the shelf. Smith is probably the best player of the aforementioned group.

Why it can’t work: Smith only has eight career starts in four seasons, including just two starts in 2013. It’s important for Miami to get Smith comfortable in his new surroundings and a new offense under first-year coordinator Bill Lazor. By all accounts, Smith is holding his own at right guard. Do the Dolphins want to take that momentum from Smith? I’ve never subscribed to the theory that you weaken one position (right guard) to fix the other (center). Now, you’ve weakened two positions.

The Dolphins have a full training camp and preseason to figure this out. Miami will take the field in Week 1 with a new center and without Pouncey on Sept. 7 against the Patriots.
video For months, the main concern for Miami Dolphins fans centered around Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey potentially missing the start of the regular season because of his involvement in last year's bullying scandal. Many wondered if a NFL-mandated suspension was looming, but it turns out it doesn't matter.

Pouncey will be sidelined anyway for the start of the 2014 season because of hip surgery, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Pouncey is expected to miss the next three to four months, which includes all of training camp, the preseason and the start of the regular season.

This is a huge loss for Miami. A strong case can be made that Pouncey is the one player Miami can least afford to lose. Not only is Pouncey one of Miami's top two or three players, he is the center who works closest with young quarterback Ryan Tannehill and in charge of calling pre-snap protections at the line of scrimmage. Without Pouncey to start the regular season, the Dolphins are expected to have five new starters on the offensive line in Week 1.

Speaking of Week 1, that is when the rival New England Patriots come to Miami. The Dolphins are an awful 4-8 against division foes the past two seasons and need to start the division games on the right foot. The same goes for Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills, who swept the Dolphins last season. Both opponents have solid defensive lines who will look to take advantage of Miami's plight without Pouncey.

The Dolphins' offensive line was awful last year and allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks. New Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey spent the entire offseason remaking the offensive line center around Pouncey. Now, Pouncey won't be available in September. Schefter also reports running back Knowshon Moreno will miss several weeks and should return at some point in training camp, which is of lesser concern.

Where does Miami go from here?

The Dolphins have three options at this stage. First, they can go with undrafted second-year player Sam Brenner, who received second-team reps at center this offseason and filled in at guard last season for the suspended Richie Incognito. Second, versatile backup Nate Garner also played center last season in place of Pouncey for two games and could be the second in-house plan. The third option is to look for outside help via trade or free agency, which could be slim pickings at this stage of the offseason.

Whatever choice Miami makes, it's replacement plan won't be nearly as good as Pouncey. He is one of the top centers in the NFL and the drop off will be significant no matter who plays in Week 1.

This is a make-or-break year for many in Miami's organization to make the playoffs. The Dolphins need a fast start to accomplish that task and it just became much more difficult.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins took the field for the first of three practices during mandatory minicamp. It was a high-energy first session in what serves as a preview to training camp.

Here are seven observations from Tuesday's practice:
  • It was a strong day for the Dolphins' defense. Miami's defense was disruptive all practice and, by my count, recorded three interceptions and at least four would-be sacks. (The defense is not allowed to hit quarterbacks in practice.) The Dolphins' defense has been together for three seasons and has been well ahead of the offense on days practice was open to the media. “There's going to be days where one side of the ball has the upper hand,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “It looked like the back end and the linebackers, we were doing some good things from a coverage standpoint.”
  • Miami receiver Brandon Gibson continues to make progress from last year's season-ending patella tendon tear. Gibson participated in team drills for the first time this offseason. He still doesn't look 100 percent but is moving around relatively well. At this point Gibson looks well on pace to be ready by Week 1.
  • Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor had arguably his best practice of the offseason. Taylor, who got reps on the first team, recorded a sideline interception off Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Taylor also showed some athleticism by blowing up a running play. Taylor was injured must of last year but is making strong strides this offseason.
  • The Dolphins' coaching staff is putting several veterans on the maintenance program during minicamp. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, defensive tackle Jared Odrick and cornerback Cortland Finnegan sat out team drills Tuesday. It is unknown if that will change during the week.
  • After a plan to renovate Sun Life Stadium was passed by the Miami-Dade County Commission in a 7-4 vote, Philbin credited owner Stephen Ross. “Most important to me is it shows the commitment our owner, Stephen Ross, has to making this a world-class organization,” Philbin said.
  • Miami rookie defensive end Terrence Fede had the play of the day. Fede, who is 6-foot-4 and 277 pounds, dropped in coverage and made a leaping interception off Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore. Fede then advanced the ball about 10 yards as his defensive teammates celebrated.
  • Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan continues to flash in practice. He had another would-be sack on Tannehill coming off the corner. Jordan put on about 17 pounds of muscle since last year and looks ready to make a second-year jump after an ineffective rookie year.

Miami will continue its three-day minicamp on Wednesday morning.
DAVIE, Fla. – The mammoth size was apparent on the first day of Miami Dolphins rookie camp. So was the youthful exuberance.

First-year offensive linemen Ja'Wuan James and Billy Turner looked the part of two major building blocks in Miami's 2014 draft class. The Dolphins invested first- and third-round picks, respectively, in hopes that James and Turner can fix Miami's struggling offensive line.

[+] EnlargeJa'Wuan James, Billy Turner
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeRookies Ja'Wuan James, left, and Billy Turner are aiming to be immediate contributors on Miami's rebuilt offensive line.
James and Turner have the potential to become Miami's dynamic rookie duo in the trenches. Both were in shape and ready to begin competing for starting jobs when the veterans returned for organized team activities next week.

“It felt good to get back out here,” James said after Friday's practice. “I haven’t played football in a long time. We've been practicing to be track stars through this whole draft process. So it’s good going out there and competing."

Dolphins first-year general manager Dennis Hickey was left with an empty cupboard on the offensive line when he joined the team in January. On the field, Miami’s offensive line allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterbacks sacks and had an inconsistent running game that was ranked 26th in the NFL. There also was a bullying scandal off the field involving three starters: center Mike Pouncey and former guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry.

A major overhaul of the offensive line was needed, and Miami could have as many as four new starters this season. Hickey and the Dolphins are hoping James and Turner are NFL-ready rookies. Both are former team captains and four-year starters with 105 combined collegiate starts.

“Well, I know those guys are talented players, and through our research we felt like they had the makeup that could contribute and help our team,” Hickey said. “So, obviously, that’s why we drafted them. They played a lot of football. They’re both smart and they’re both tough and we’re excited to have them. They’ve done an outstanding job so far.”

Turner will have the hardest time of the two rookies to win a starting job. Miami has an opening at one guard position, but there are a lot of competitors with more NFL experience. Holdovers Nate Garner, Sam Brenner and Dallas Thomas are all potential competitors for Turner this summer, and the coaching staff will not play favorites.

We will know more about Turner's game once he puts the pads on in training camp. At North Dakota State, Turner was known for his mean streak and dominant play against small-school competition. He will try to translate that style to the NFL level.

“I like to hit people. That’s why I play the game, that’s why I play offensive line,” Turner said. “I’m an aggressive guy. ... Coming off the ball being as aggressive as I can is how I play.”
The Miami Dolphins were a competitive 8-8 in 2013 and just one win away from making the playoffs. They signed Branden Albert, a Pro Bowl left tackle and drafted right tackle Ja'Wuan James in the first-round to fix the offensive line. Miami added 1,000-yard running back Knowshon Moreno to boost their shoddy rushing attack.

Add veteran signings such as cornerback Cortland Finnegan, defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, safety Louis Delmas, a new draft class and the Dolphins should be projected to take the next step, correct?

Not so fast.

The early 2014 projections are in and it doesn’t look good for Miami. So far, many experts are predicting the Dolphins slide this year.

ESPN.com recently ranked the Dolphins in the bottom third of the NFL at No. 24. One voter -- NFL Nation reporter Kevin Seifert -- rated the Dolphins No. 30, which rubbed a lot of Dolphins fans the wrong way. Bleacher Report also rated Miami last at No. 32 and the worst team in the NFL. Football Outsiders predicted Miami would finish 7-9.

Why is Miami being ranked low nationally? Here are three theories:

1. Head coach on the hot seat

Analysis: It rarely looks good for a team when the head coach enters the season on the hot seat. Joe Philbin is a shaky 15-17 in two seasons. He has yet to post a winning record or make the playoffs. There are no excuses for Philbin to fail in his third year. Although the Dolphins won’t admit it publicly, it’s playoffs or bust. What if Miami gets off to a slow start? What if the Dolphins are out of the playoff race in November? Miami must win early to quiet the speculation. Philbin must also get his players to respond week in and week out despite his status.

2. Not much confidence in Tannehill

Analysis: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has one of the top-selling jerseys in the NFL. He gets a ton of support in South Florida. Yet, Tannehill doesn’t get the same love nationally. Tannehill has a mediocre 15-17 record as a starter. He hasn’t proven to be a winning quarterback in two seasons and it’s now or never. Tannehill is learning a new offensive scheme for the first time since college. He has also struggled throwing the deep ball and holding the ball too long. Based on early Power Rankings, it appears the national media does not think Tannehill is going to do anything special this year.

3. Bad Press

Analysis: Fair or not, the Dolphins have the national perception of a team in turmoil and previously with a bad locker room. Last year’s bullying scandal rocked Miami and put the entire organization in a bad light. To the Dolphins’ credit, owner Stephen Ross, first-year general manager Dennis Hickey and Philbin have done a lot to clean up last year’s ills. They let Richie Incognito and John Jerry walk in free agency and traded Jonathan Martin. But recent issues on social media with Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who may face an early-season suspension, and Don Jones keep Miami’s locker-room issues in the spotlight.

When you consider all these factors, it’s easier to see why the national media isn’t giving Miami much respect this upcoming season. The Dolphins also have the 12th toughest strength of schedule.

Miami will have a chance to fly under the radar. That could be a good thing. Meanwhile, Dolphins fans shouldn't expect much respect from the national media leading up to the regular season.
For two of the past three days, Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey had to interrupt NFL draft news conferences to field questions on veteran players making mistakes with social media.

On Friday, Hickey called an impromptu media gathering at the Dolphins' facility to make a statement on Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who tweeted "I can't wait for our gifts he's getting us," when Miami selected first-round right tackle Ja'Wuan James. The following night Hickey had to address controversial tweets by second-year player Don Jones' toward Michael Sam, who became the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL.

“I was made aware of it and I was disappointed in those comments," Hickey said of Jones. "That's not what we stand for as an organization.”

The pair of incidents in a short span highlighted the fact that Miami hasn’t completely fixed its locker room culture. As much as the team has worked on all that went wrong last year during “Bullygate,” there is still plenty of work to be done in the area of social media. The Dolphins cannot overlook this form of communication. They must do a better job of educating their players. As a general rule, Dolphins players should “think before you tweet.”

So far Miami has been too reactive -- instead of proactive -- with issues of social media. The Dolphins met with Pouncey after his comments and will do the same with Jones. It's probably time for Miami’s brass to also hold a widespread team meeting during offseason workouts before this social media issue gets out of hand and causes more problems for the organization.

It would be easier if the Dolphins, a billion-dollar brand, could ban all their players from using social media and simply concentrate on football. But that's not a realistic approach and a proper way to treat employees. Education, communication and a low tolerance are the best ways for Miami to fix this issue.

Why the wait with Mike Pouncey?

April, 29, 2014
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As I was preparing to take vacation on April 19, this thought crossed my mind: By the time I return, the Miami Dolphins most likely will pick up the fifth-year option for Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey.

Pouncey
Ten days later, Pouncey is still in limbo as various teams across the NFL picked up other fifth-year options on 2011 first-round draft picks. The Dolphins have until May 3 to pick up the option or allow one of their top players to hit free agency after this season.

So what are the Dolphins waiting for? Why is Miami stalling this decision with Pouncey until the last minute?

In all likelihood, the Dolphins will extend Pouncey’s contract for a fifth year. He is too good of a player to let walk, and it buys Miami more time to decide if it wants to sign Pouncey to a long-term extension after the 2015 season.

A strong case can be made that Pouncey outperformed his rookie contract a season or two ago. But recent off-the-field issues, which include his involvement in last year’s bullying scandal, has given the Dolphins reason to pause. Pouncey may be even next season on the sidelines if the NFL decides to hand out suspensions for “Bullygate.”

Still, it’s not too hard of a decision to extend Pouncey for an extra season. It makes good football and business sense for the Dolphins.

New Miami general manager Dennis Hickey knew this deadline was coming for quite some time. There are only a few days left, and it would be surprising if the Dolphins allow Pouncey to hit the open market next year.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell provided some closing thoughts on this week’s NFL owners meetings.

Here are some tidbits Goodell offered about the Miami Dolphins:
  • Goodell was pleased with the progress the NFL made this week on locker-room culture. There were several productive sessions to help coaches and general managers be proactive and avoid what happened last year in Miami during the Dolphins' bullying scandal.
  • In terms of suspensions, Goodell said the NFL will not take action until all three players complete their medical evaluations. Goodell announced Tuesday that Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey must seek treatment. “The medical evaluation is a priority for us,” Goodell said.
  • NFL vice president of football Troy Vincent added that the league will “consider everything” when it comes to potential suspensions. Pouncey could be in hot water because NFL lead investigator Ted Wells didn’t find some of Pouncey’s accounts credible, according to the report.

The Dolphins and the NFL leave Orlando with a much better grasp on how to improve locker-room culture, which was a major focus at the owners meetings. The next step for Miami will be awaiting word on Pouncey's playing status for the start of the regular season.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is the only player remaining on the team from last year's high-profile bullying scandal. Pouncey, along with former teammates Richie Incognito and John Jerry, were cited in the Ted Wells report for bullying and harassing Jonathan Martin, who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers.

Pouncey
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin discussed Pouncey in-depth Tuesday during the NFL's league meetings.

Here are several interesting tidbits:
  • Philbin said he wasn't surprised by NFL commissioner's Roger Goodell's plan for Pouncey to be medically evaluated before taking the field. Philbin has been in constant communication with the league and said Pouncey will cooperate. According to Philbin, he hasn't seen anything yet to make him concerned about Pouncey getting suspended. But things can change.
  • The Dolphins have until May 2 to pick up a team option for a fifth year on Pouncey's rookie contract. Pouncey is currently scheduled to be a free agent after this upcoming season. Philbin said the decision on whether to extend Pouncey for 2015 hasn't been determined.
  • Incognito and Pouncey were members of the leadership council last season, which was voted by the players. Philbin said he hasn't decided how he will manage the leadership council next season.
  • Overall, Philbin said it's too early to project the offensive line. The Dolphins appear to have three starters in place with Pouncey, guard Shelley Smith and left tackle Branden Albert. But Miami may look in-house or outside via free agency and the draft for the other two starters.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday that improving the workplace environment is a major focus for the league moving forward. Goodell said he spoke numerous times to the Miami Dolphins and 40 players total from nine different teams on how to fix the league’s locker-room culture.

“What do we need to do to make sure we have a workplace that we're all proud of?” Goodell said at the annual league meetings. “Those [talks] have been very productive.”

None of this would be possible without the Dolphins. Had Jonathan Martin not left the team on Oct. 29 amid bullying and harassment claims and caused a media firestorm, this topic would not be near the top of the docket at the NFL’s league meetings. That is perhaps the biggest silver lining the Dolphins can take from one of the most controversial chapters in franchise history.

The curtain was pulled back on Miami’s locker-room culture last season and prompted conversation and change. Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito and John Jerry were three players cited for harassment in the 144-page Ted Wells report. That certainly caught Goodell’s attention, and the NFL is examining various measures to prevent another situation like this from happening again.

“We’re trying to get as much input as possible,” Goodell said. “This is a culture change. ... This is more about people understanding the importance of a professional workplace where there’s respect for everybody, whether it’s a teammate, an opponent, game officials.”

In this case, change is good. NFL locker rooms have long been behind the times. The Dolphins just happen to be the team that exposed the need for change. What the Dolphins experienced last year was negative, but learning from it going forward is a positive for the Dolphins and the entire NFL.

According to Goodell, no decisions have been made on potential suspensions for Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry. Goodell said all three players must first go through medical evaluations before the NFL makes a decision.
Branden AlbertPeter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesThe Dolphins bolstered their O-line by agreeing to a five-year, $46 million deal with Brandon Albert.
NFL free agency kicked off with a bang Tuesday, and Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert was one of the biggest names to switch teams. Albert signed a five-year, $46 million contract with Miami Dolphins. He spent the previous five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

One team’s loss is another team’s gain in free agency. ESPN.com’s Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Dolphins reporter James Walker weigh in on both sides of the Albert signing.

James Walker: Adam, the Dolphins are ecstatic to land a player of Albert’s caliber. Pro Bowl left tackles do not grow on trees, and Albert was the highest-rated player at that position on the market. Albert also filled Miami’s biggest need on the offensive line, which was torn apart last season with the bullying controversy. The price tag wasn’t cheap. But the Dolphins feel it was worth the investment, especially after watching their quarterback get sacked a team-record 58 times last season. Albert will protect Ryan Tannehill’s blindside. Adam, how are the Chiefs dealing with the loss of Albert?

Adam Teicher: It’s a loss for the Chiefs for the short term without a doubt. Eventually, the Chiefs should be able to handle his departure. The Chiefs and Albert were so far apart on a long-term contract last year that they knew it was never going to happen. So they began preparing for this day last year by selecting a tackle, Eric Fisher, with the first pick in the draft. Fisher started as a rookie at right tackle but didn’t play well. He was a huge disappointment, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t eventually become the player the Chiefs envision. He needs a year in Kansas City’s weight program. That alone should make him better.

The Chiefs and Dolphins talked about a trade involving Albert last year. How disappointed was Miami they couldn’t acquire Albert then?

Walker: The Dolphins liked Albert last year, but the person calling the shots this year is different. Miami fired former general manager Jeff Ireland and hired new GM Dennis Hickey in January. Ireland liked to acquire picks as opposed to trading them away. So it wasn’t a shock when talks with Kansas City failed. It turned out to be a mistake as Miami’s offensive line was atrocious, which played a factor in Ireland losing his job. Hickey doesn’t want to make the same mistake. It appears he values the perks of a good offensive line and is making it a priority by putting money into Albert.

Adam, the Chiefs’ offensive line appears to be in transition with losses of Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz. How will they recover?

Teicher: They’ve tried to prepare for this. Over the last four drafts, the Chiefs have used five picks in the first three rounds on offensive linemen. Four of them will start next season. They have three developmental linemen and the Chiefs could slide one of them into a starting spot in the middle of the line. Their depth will definitely take a hit, particularly at tackle. They’ll have to find some backups and perhaps even a starter through free agency or the draft.

With regard to the offensive line, is anything left for the Dolphins to do or are they set?

Walker: The Dolphins are far from set, Adam. Unlike Kansas City, Miami has not invested much in the offensive line in the past year. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is the only starting offensive lineman expected to return. Last year’s starting guards -- Richie Incognito and John Jerry -- will not return due to their involvement in Miami’s high-profile bullying scandal. Offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both unrestricted free agents who are long in the tooth. Pouncey and Albert are a solid foundation. But the Dolphins still need two starting guards and a right tackle to play alongside their two Pro Bowlers.

Miami Dolphins Stock Watch

February, 18, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins have a lot going on this offseason.

Here is a look at whose stock is rising and falling this week:

Falling

Incognito
1. Richie Incognito, guard: Incognito's already poor reputation took a bigger hit last week during the release of the Ted Wells report. Incognito harassed teammate Jonathan Martin and former teammate Andrew McDonald, according to the report. This will not make it easy for Incognito to find a job next season.

2. Jim Turner, offensive line coach: Outside of Incognito, Turner most likely will be the biggest fall guy in Miami’s bullying scandal. Turner was the supervisor responsible for the offensive line, which was described as an “anything goes” group. The Wells report also showed Turner, at times, was a willing participant in the banter, which doesn’t look good. I wouldn’t be surprised if Turner loses his job soon.

3. Mike Pouncey, center: The Dolphins will have an interesting decision with Pouncey. Incognito was the ringleader, but Pouncey took part in the harassment. He’s also under contract and is one of Miami’s top players. Will Pouncey get fined? Suspended? That remains to be seen. But it’s doubtful the Dolphins will offer Pouncey a contract extension, despite his quality play on the field.

Rising

1. Dennis Hickey, Dolphins GM: This has to be exciting times for Miami’s first-year general manager. He's running the show for the first time and will be a major part of Miami’s plans at the NFL combine. College scouting is Hickey’s strength. Therefore, this week’s events will be right up his alley. Miami also has plenty of cap room for Hickey to spend in free agency in March.

Grimes
Grimes
2. Brent Grimes, cornerback: Grimes put in the work last season and made his second Pro Bowl. Now it’s time to cash in. Grimes will be an unrestricted free agent in March and is in line to get a sizable contract extension. The Dolphins also can use the franchise tag on Grimes, which will pay him top dollar for 2014. Grimes wants long-term security, but he will get paid handsomely next season either way.

3. John Benton, assistant offensive line coach: With Turner most likely on the way out, that may provide an opportunity for a quick promotion for Benton. He joined the team just last month. The Dolphins had an idea of Turner’s role in the bullying scandal and hiring Benton, who formerly worked with the Houston Texans, may have been a pre-emptive move. Benton will work with a group that struggled mightily in 2013 and could face wholesale changes.
The much-anticipated Ted Wells report is complete and so is the conclusion of one of the biggest stories in the history of the Miami Dolphins.

Martin
Now, all that is left is the fallout.

One of the biggest issues is what will the Dolphins do with Jonathan Martin? The Wells report concluded that he was constantly harassed by three teammates: Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey and John Jerry. Martin left the team in October and didn’t return.

A return to Miami seems highly unlikely for Martin. Here are several reasons why:
  • Dolphins owner Stephen Ross already declared publicly that he doesn’t expect Martin or Incognito to be back on the team in 2014. Incognito is a free agent, so that’s an easy decision. Martin has two years left on his rookie contract and is expected to be traded or released.
  • Miami’s locker room made it clear last season that Martin isn’t welcome. Right or wrong, many Dolphins players believed Martin could have handled the situation better by keeping it in-house. Instead, players believe he walked out on the team and partially left them to deal with a national media firestorm. There is a two-way level of trust that’s broken between Martin and the Dolphins’ locker room that would be difficult to repair.
  • Bringing Martin back would be a public relations nightmare. The Dolphins spent three months with a dark cloud hanging over the team during this bullying scandal. So much media attention and scrutiny would be on Martin returning and trying to fit in Miami’s locker room culture again in 2014. Martin is an average or below average offensive tackle. Keeping him is not worth the huge distraction for the Dolphins.

Look for the Dolphins to try to get something in return for Martin. He’s young, cheap and can play left and right tackle. Those players do not grow on trees.

But Martin certainly comes with baggage from this bullying scandal. Teams also know that Miami will probably release Martin if it can’t find a trade partner. That lowers his value.

Either way, do not expect Martin to be on the Dolphins’ roster next season.
video

The Ted Wells report pulled the curtain back on the sordid locker room culture of the Miami Dolphins. One of the biggest developments was fellow offensive linemen Mike Pouncey and John Jerry joined Richie Incognito in the persistent harassment of Jonathan Martin and others on the team.

The immediate futures of Incognito and Jerry are simple: Both are unrestricted free agents in March and the Dolphins can easily wash their hands by letting them walk. Neither player is expected to return.

However, Pouncey’s situation is more complex.

Not only is Pouncey still under contract, he’s one of the best players on the team. He’s certainly Miami’s best offensive lineman, which is an area the Dolphins cannot afford to lose talent. Pouncey made his first Pro Bowl this season.

The NFL surely will review the Wells report thoroughly and determine if further action is necessary. Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey are all on commissioner Roger Goodell’s radar, which is not good for those three players. A fine or suspension is not out of the realm of possibility if Goodell believes this trio violated the NFL’s code of conduct.

Last week I wrote that Pouncey, based on his on-field play, is outperforming his contract and could be due for a raise. Now, I don’t see that happening following the details of the Wells report.

Expect the Dolphins to remain in wait-and-see mode with Pouncey this offseason.

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