Let's play pick the offensive tackle!
The Dolphins have basically conducted an open offensive tackle tryout this week in order to try to fill their most glaring need remaining this offseason.
All of the players they've brought in to audition for the part have been excellent to good NFL players at one time. All of the players they've brought in are no longer the players they once were. All of the players they've brought in have been cast off by other teams now, some of them by multiple other teams. All of the players they've brought in want significant money -- at least $3 million for one season. All of the players they've brought in are probably just one-year solutions, in the Dolphins' mind. All of the players they've brought in had to work during their visits.
This is a tryout, not a classic free agent visit. Yes, there are meetings with the coaching staff and meals and so forth. But all the players have been or will be put through a work out on the field.
So which player will the Dolphins pick?
Which is the best option?
Obviously, we're not allowed to see the workouts. So assuming all the players are in relatively equal shape (probably a bad assumption) the Dolphins have to also judge a variety of factors.
Right off the bat if one of these players is willing to play for one year and relatively cheaply, he has an advantage. I don't know that any will do that, but that's out there. I would assume that the most expensive of the bunch would be Bryant McKinnie because he's the only actual left tackle of the group. Left tackles are more valuable.
The problem is McKinnie is clearly the worst character and culture fit. He's not Chad Johnson, as I mentioned in a previous blog post because he hasn't really been in constant legal problems. But he has been known to be a headache to coaches -- even last year in Baltimore. He is also an unrepentant partier. He has even recently hosted a party at a local club in Pembroke Pines as recently as two weeks ago.
Now, there's nothing wrong with partying. But even if McKinnie isn't the king of all partiers, he's royalty. And as the Dolphins are within 12 miles of Pembroke Pines and South Beach is down the coast a bit, this can lead to some distractions and negative example setting.
Winston, Clabo and Justice are not saints. But they're not in McKinnie's league at all.
McKinnie is clean in this regard. He didn't start a game last season during the regular season but that wasn't due to injury. He was overweight (another red flag) and out of shape (red flag) and it took him much of the season to get back in shape. He started every playoff game at left tackle.
Clabo last season managed a hip injury but continued to add to his 101 starts with the Falcons. He has not missed a game in five seasons. The chart below is missing a start in 2012.
Justice is not quite the iron man. He has started 16 NFL only once in his seven previous seasons, that coming in 2009. He was limited to 12 games last season with Indianapolis.
Eric Winston, like Clabo, answers the bell. He has started 16 games every year since 2007.
The age issue isn't really one. Look, the Dolphins know each man's age. They still brought them all in. This signing won't be a long-term affair. Even if the eventual contract signed is a multi-year deal, in all probability this will be a one-year rental.
The Dolphins are not the only team searching for tackle help. The Chargers need help at left tackle. The Ravens do also.
All are relatively interested in McKinnie. The Dolpins are really the only team trying out right tackles because they believe Jonathan Martin on some level can play left tackle. The Raven have Michael Oher and still would rather have a left tackle. The Chargers just drafted D.J. Fluker to play right tackle.
It should be interesting to compare and contrast how the three teams address the same need going forward. To me, however, this is starting to feel a bit like a Marc Colombo redo. I've seen this scenario before.