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The new starting center: Jake Grove? [Update]

The Herald's Jeff Darlington is reporting Oakland offensive lineman Jake Grove is in town for a free agency visit that will officially begin Tuesday. I am reporting that barring a last-minute snag in negotiations, Grove will be signed by tomorrow.

That will signal the Dolphins successfully finding the starting center they've been searching for since the end of the 2008 season. Although Grove and Samson Satele would be competing for the starting job, once you see the numbers on the Grove contract, you will understand Miami expects him to be the starter.

The Dolphins, I am told, were quite impressed by Grove's work as they prepared for their 17-15 victory over Oakland last season. [UPDATE: Grove did not play in that game because of a calf injury and, in fact missed four games in 2008. Previously I wrote Grove had played against Miami.]  

Grove, 29, is a free agent because he met playing time incentives in his contract and the final year of his deal was voided. The Raiders have been trying to re-sign him, obviously with no luck so far.

"We want him back, obviously," Raiders coach Tom Cable said Feb. 19 when asked if he was comfortable with the player's status. "So if he's not there or until it's resolved I'm not comfortable at all."

Cable's discomfort could grow substantially in the next 24 hours.

If the Dolphins are able to lock up the 6-4 and 300 pound Grove, consider him your starting center for the 2009 season. The Grove signing will not come cheaply which is the reason the Dolphins needed to save every penny of the $3.25 million they added in cap space with the termination of Vonnie Holliday's contract.

The Dolphins hated to see Holliday leave. But they couldn't see themselves paying a $1.5 million roster bonus to a player that played 56 percent of the snaps in 2008 and was probably going to play a lower percentage in 2009.

And now they use that added space for a center who could be in on 100 percent of the offensive snaps in 2009 if he stays healthy. It is a good trade-off if you ask me.

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