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OL free agency possibilities: Stopgap, projects

Zach Strief re-signed with the New Orleans Saints today. He got a five-year deal worth $20.5 million with $8.4 million in guaranteed money, per a league source.

The Dolphins offensive line, meanwhile, will continue to seem incomplete as general manager Dennis Hickey now shops for bargain additions.

The Dolphins have a guard and right tackle spot open if one assumes sometimes NFL starter Shelley Smith -- signed Friday -- can become a fulltime NFL starter for the Dolphins.

So at guard one name that become prominent for the Dolphins now is John Benton. No, he's not a player. He's the new offensive line coach. And he happens to have been the Houston Texans offensive line before he came to the Dolphins.

And he's got his guys in his sights.


The Dolphins have shown preliminary and lukewarm interest in two former Texans linemen -- guard Wade Smith and tackle Ryan Harris.

Harris, 29, has been mostly a backup type during his six-year career with Denver and Houston. He started 10 games for the Broncos in 2010 but that's the last time he actually has been a starter. His time in Houston was spent mostly in a backup role. He is a depth guy and would likely be insurance, if signed, to a rookie draft pick starter option.

Smith is familiar to Dolphins fans. He was once the Dolphins starting left tackle.

That's right, that Wade Smith.

Smith was Miami starting right tackle in 2003 -- his rookie year after being drafted in the third round out of Memphis. And it wasn't a great experience (I recall one three-sack game). Smith started only two games the next three seasons and nobody seemed to notice when he departed in 2006.

But after languishing four four years and two teams, Smith's career hit a stride when he joined the Texans in 2010. He was a guard by then. And he was a starter -- putting a string of 64 consecutive starts at the position the next four years.

Smith is a veteran guard option for Miami. He's 32. He's a stopgap guy.

He'd like to return to the Texans but they have a new coaching staff and would like to upgrade their line. They encouraged him to test free agency.

As Benton has been his coach for years and the Dolphins will run the same (or very similar) zone scheme he's known in Houston, Smith could be an answer for the Dolphins. And the Dolphins could be the way he bookends his career, finishing where he started.