Pending free agency and a racially charged bullying scandal could add up to a completely overhauled Miami Dolphins offensive line – and some players looking for a job.
Several Miami linemen are at the center of the NFL-ordered report detailing harassment in the Dolphins locker room, including Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey. The report released last Friday said Jerry and Pouncey followed Incognito’s lead in harassing Martin about not being black enough, threatening to rape his sister and calling him a long list of slurs.
Incognito and Jerry, the team’s starting guards, are free agents. Pouncey and Martin, the starting center and left tackle, are under contract although their future with the team is unclear. Even Miami offensive line coach Jim Turner’s future may be in doubt after the report said he took part in some of the bullying.
Whether Turner or any of the three starters embroiled in the scandal will face punishment from the NFL remains unclear. Spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press in an email Monday the league will comment on the report ”at the appropriate time.”
Steve Beuerlein, a former NFL Pro Bowl quarterback and TV analyst for CBS, said if the Dolphins have to make wholesale changes to the offensive line it would be ”a huge adjustment.”
”How quickly they develop would depend on what type of guys they go after and how much money they’re willing to spend,” Beuerlein said. ”To have a good offensive line in today’s NFL, you need two standout linemen and then you have to have three smart versatile guys that can move from position to position.
”If they do that they can adjust pretty quick. But they’ll have to find the right type of guys.”
Beuerlein knows about playing behind poor offensive lines.
He was sacked a league-high 62 times in 2000 while playing for the Carolina Panthers, prompting the organization to invest millions and spend top draft picks on that position in the years that followed.
Dolphins spokesman Harvey Green said new general manager Dennis Hickey was unavailable for comment, but is expected to address the media Thursday at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.
The Dolphins have already said they aren’t likely to re-sign Incognito following the public relations nightmare.
Meanwhile, Martin’s agent, Kenneth Zuckerman, said his client ”definitely” plans to play football again and ”he will play for any team.”
Whether that will be with the Dolphins remains to be seen.
The Dolphins also have to make decisions on two other offensive linemen not named in the report – starting right tackle Ryan Clabo and Bryant McKinnie, who replaced Martin at left tackle after Martin left the Dolphins last October for emotional reasons. Both Claybo and McKinnie are also free agents.
Miami’s offensive line collectively ranked last in the league a year ago, allowing an NFL-high 58 sacks. They allowed the quarterback to be knocked down 100 times last season.
The Dolphins were 27th in the league in total offense in 2013 and 26th in rushing, averaging 90 yards per game on the ground. Miami finished the season 8-8 and did not qualify for the playoffs.