- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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If the Miami Dolphins had a game today, the offensive line would still be in shambles.
Miami invested a combined $50 million this offseason on free-agent pickups Branden Albert and Shelley Smith. However, there were so many holes following last season that the Dolphins' offensive line remains incomplete.
There are only three set starters on the offensive line currently on Miami's roster. Albert, a Pro Bowler, is a lock at left tackle. Center Mike Pouncey, who also made his first Pro Bowl in 2013, is another lock at center. Smith is a favorite to start at one guard position but he has to compete for the job.
After that, Miami's offensive line remains a mystery.
The Dolphins' offensive line was turned upside down following last year's bullying scandal. They didn't re-sign former starting guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry, who were culprits cited in the Ted Wells investigation. Miami also traded former starting right tackle Jonathan Martin, who was cited as the victim, to the San Francisco 49ers. On the field, the group allowed a franchise-record 58 sacks last season.
One starting guard spot and right tackle remain wide open. The Dolphins have backups such as Sam Brenner, Nate Garner and Dallas Thomas on the roster. Brenner and Garner could compete for one guard spot. They rotated as starters last season. Thomas, a 2013 third-round pick, remains a wild card. He's raw but has potential. The issue is the Dolphins still aren't sure if Thomas is better at guard or tackle.
"We've got to find him a home and give him a place to anchor down and get comfortable with," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of Thomas last week at the NFL owners meetings. "He's been one of the hardest-working guys we have. ... I just think it's just a matter of consistency, gaining the trust and the confidence in himself, the guy next to him and the staff."
The Dolphins are now bargain hunting in free agency and may not find another veteran starter on the offensive line. They signed former Detroit Lions backup offensive tackle Jason Fox on Wednesday. Miami also could use at least one high draft pick in the first two rounds at right tackle or guard.
Miami has done a good job of remaking its offensive line so far. But there is plenty of work left to be complete.