Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins want a leader for the offensive line. One name seems obvious

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and guard Josh Sitton celebrate a touchdown during a 2015 divisional playoff game against Dallas.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and guard Josh Sitton celebrate a touchdown during a 2015 divisional playoff game against Dallas. AP

As you’ve seen so far this offseason, the Miami Dolphins are addressing their locker room — and by that I don’t mean the team is merely looking to add talent in the locker room.

The team is thinking about culture. And leadership. And chemistry.

In other words, the Dolphins are thinking about stuff successful football people think a lot about. They’re focusing on things outsiders like you, me and talk radio hosts and pundits have no clue about because none of those folks is behind the curtain when flames threaten to burn down the theater.

So we don’t know who’s running for the exits to save themselves, and who’s grabbing an extinguisher.

The Dolphins think they know. So part of what they’re hoping to accomplish in the next 24 to 48 hours is adding someone who will be a fireman for the most frustrating part of this team over the past decade or so:

The offensive line.

The Dolphins, I’m told by a source familiar with the team’s plan, have identified a veteran free agent offensive lineman they want to add not long after free agency begins.

I have no idea who this player is.

I know it’s not Carolina guard Andrew Norwell. It’s not that Norwell isn’t good or isn’t a leader. It’s just that Norwell is, as I reported Monday morning, the best guard expected to hit the free agent market and he is going to get paid crazy money sometime Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

And the Dolphins aren’t going to pay crazy money for a guard. First, they cannot afford it with their salary cap constraints. Secondly, they don’t value the position enough to pay crazy money for it.

So sad face :-( for those of us who wanted Norwell.

I know the Dolphins have identified this mystery player because they believe he will fill two significant voids:

The first void is obvious in that the Miami offensive line has been a weak point for years despite resources of money and draft picks being pumped into the unit. Well, more resources are coming in the way of this expected free agent addition, if a deal works out.

The second void is about — surprise! — culture and leadership and chemistry.

I’m told this player could easily become a leader on the offensive line and even on the offense. And the Dolphins need that.

They need it because Mike Pouncey, who is the defacto leader of the offensive line, is better at that role when he has a more senior voice in the same room. Pouncey was better when Branden Albert was in the offensive line room. He was better when Jake Long was in the offensive line room.

When that veteran example for good is missing …Pouncey was not quite as good.

So the Dolphins are locked in on a veteran leader.

And that suggests things to Sherlock Salguero …

It suggests the Dolphins are looking at a player they’re familiar with. You cannot identify a player as a leader and someone who improves team culture if you don’t have intimate knowledge about how that player acts within the confines of team meetings and the team facility.

So I have to believe this is a player whom Dolphins offensive coaches know very well.

That means this player possibly played for Gase before, either in Denver, or Chicago. Or played for offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, either in Tennessee from 2012-13 or Cleveland in 2014 or Chicago from 2015-2017. The other possibility is this player played for offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn in Detroit, either last year or from 2009-15.

Following so far? I hope so because I’m either an awesome sleuth or clueless — the actual move the Dolphins end up making will show which one.

So beyond that I went looking for available free agents from Denver, Chicago, Tennessee and Detroit who fit the criteria. Remember, he’s an experienced offensive lineman who is also a leader and won’t be too expensive to sign in free agency.

My top candidate is guard Josh Sitton, who is available because the Chicago Bears declined to pay him an option for 2018, making him a free agent.

Sitton played for Loggains the past two seasons. He played well by all accounts. He’s a leader by all accounts. He’s been to the Pro Bowl four times, in 2012 and 2014-16. He played both left and right guard.

And, oh, lookie here, he’s a Florida kid. He’s a native of Jacksonville who now lives in Pensacola. He attended Central Florida.

The only thing that gives me pause is he’ll be 32 years old in June. (I doubt that will give the Dolphins pause because they don’t listen to me about signing free agents over a certain age.)

Anyway, this search points me to Sitton … which, of course, means it will be someone else.

I don’t know. I’m not reporting this. I’m merely connecting dots.

More dots leading to other possible targets?

Sorry, it’s way too late. This Sherlock stuff is a grind. You do some of the work in the comments section, Watsons. Connect the dots and come up with the possibilities.

Good luck.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments