Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase meets the press at combine
Hey, um, on second thought maybe the idea of re-signing Jermon Bushrod isn’t so bad, after all.
That is the current thinking going on within the Dolphins organization -- well, not quite like that, but you get the drift -- and that very well could lead the team to re-sign the free agent right guard within the next few days or weeks.
The Dolphins, fresh off adding Ted Larsen to play left guard, had two guard spot openings when free agency began and they wanted to fill both before the draft so as to not be forced to pick a guard in the draft out of need. Again.
But with free agency showing everyone that the guard market is, in a word, crazy, the Dolphins have been forced to re-think getting that vacant right guard for value.
Consider that the Cleveland Browns awarded former Cincinnati guard Kevin Zeitler a five year, $60 million deal with $31.5 million guaranteed. So he’s averaging $12 million per season. Yeah, Browns doing Browns things.
Consider that the Denver Broncos, a team that actually knows how to win, awarded former Dallas guard Ronald Leary a four-year, $36 million contract with $24 million guaranteed. So he’s averaging $9 million a year.
This in a market where running backs are going for $3-$5 million, people!
The point is the market is nuts for guards. And in that environment, a team such as the Dolphins wasn’t about to compete for the best available players at the position because the Dolphins are not valuing guards at those heights this year.
So Bushrod becomes the most likely answer in a re-signing. Soon.
First, Bushrod stated unequivocally after the season he wanted to return to Miami. He’s familiar with the system. He is now a veteran at the position after playing all 17 games there last season. And he’s familiar with the Dolphins coaching staff.
Second, Bushrod was not bad last year. Well, that’s what the Dolphins think, at least.
The folks at ProFootballFocus.com rated Bushrod the worst run-blocking guard in the NFL in 2016. So there’s that.
But as with all things on the offensive line, it is the whole that matters, not the individual parts. Sometimes Bushrod suffered from right tackle Ja’Wuan James not playing his best. Sometimes Bushrod himself had lapses. And through it all, running back Jay Ajayi still rushed for 1,272 yards and averaged 4.9 yards a carry so something was going right.
Now, it is interesting to understand why the Dolphins are not focused on spending big money for guards when their fans wanted Zeitler or perhaps T.J. Lang (he got a three-year deal worth $9.5 million per year from Detroit), or Luke Joekel (got $8 million on a one-year deal from Seattle).
While the rest of the NFL is paying through the nose for guards, the Dolphins have decided to go in the other direction because their schedule suggests that’s the right thing to do. The Dolphins, you see, will have eight games against teams that run a 3-4 as their base defense.
And against that base 3-4 the guards are asked to do much less than they ordinarily need to do otherwise. Indeed, on some pass plays against the 3-4, one guard is assigned to block ... nobody. That guard can help double team someone.
So the Dolphins have figured if they can get two guards who are smart, tough and know the intricacies of playing the position -- Bushrod checks those boxes -- they can succeed on offense.
The added advantage is that Bushrod, 32, likely is not an expensive player to re-sign. Last year he played under a one-year contract that cost the Dolphins a total of $1,437,500.
I’d imagine the Dolphins would be willing to offer him the same deal for 2017. Maybe they even give him a small bump to reward him for last year. The bump would not make Jermon Bushrod an $8 million a year left guard.
It would make him a Miami Dolphin again. And that seems likely to happen.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter @ArmandoSalguero