Couple quick items on remaining priority positions of need as the Dolphins plow through the first week of free agency:
### Right tackle: Zach Strief, 30, remains by far the best unsigned player at the position, and the Dolphins called his representation earlier in the week, expressed interest in Strief and spoke of setting up a visit. But Strief had been committed to a banquet in Cincinnati and was unable to take any visits.
UPDATE: The Dolphins reached out to Strief again on Thursday and asked him to visit. A decision is pending. The leaguewide sense has been that he prefers to return to New Orleans, but the Saints and Strief haven’t been able to come to an agreement. And he is now receptive to talking to other teams.
Pro Football Focus rated him seventh among all tackles last season, based on his 2013 performance.
Mel Kiper reiterated today that Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin makes the most sense for Miami with the 19th pick in the first round, though he wonders if Pittsburgh might take him four spots earlier. Martin could slide into the starting right tackle job.
Beyond Strief, the list of other remaining free agent tackles isn’t extraordinary --- a group include Michael Oher, Eric Winston, Ryan Harris and J’Marcus Webb.
[UPDATE: Tampa announced at 2 p.m. that it's releasing Donald Penn, who Dennis Hickey knows well from his time in Tampa. But he's a natural left tackle and Oakland and Washington could have interest in him at that spot.]
### Guard: Shelley Smith is visiting with the Dolphins tonight after visiting with the Patriots at this hour, and his camp is hopeful there will be an offer from Miami. The good news: PFF.com ranked him 21st among all guards for 2013 and fourth as a run-blocker. But he has started just eight games over the past two seasons.
Miami has called to express some level of interest in several other guards, including Daryn Colledge and Wade Smith and center/guard Even Dietrich Smith. Davin Joseph remains a possibility. Figure on the Dolphins signing at least one veteran guard.
### Cornerback: The Dolphins have considerable faith in Jamar Taylor, and he figures to join Brent Grimes and a to-be-determined veteran among their top three corners. The Dolphins haven’t ruled out a return by Dimitri Patterson, but nothing was imminent on that front as of Thursday afternoon.
Miami has expressed interest in Tarell Brown and Walter Thurmond, and there are decent other options: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cortland Finnegan, Brandon Browner, Terell Thomas, Josh Wilson, EJ Biggers, Antonio Cromartie, Antonie Cason, Jabari Greer, plus past-their-prime Champ Bailey and Dunta Robinson. Several of those players have been taking visits elsewhere, including Browner and Thurmond with Washington and Cromartie with Arizona (among a bunch of others with other teams).
[5 p.m. update: Finnegan will visit the Dolphins on Friday, according to NFL.com's Albert Breer. He was cut by the Rams after this past season. He played in only seven games because of injury, starting pick and picking off a pass. PFF ranked him 109th of 110 cornerbacks last season.]
Nolan Carroll signed with Philadelphia today, and Miami didn't tender RJ Stanford.
### Random stuff: Since his 61-point outburst, LeBron James has scored 22, 19, 17, 23 and 19 points over the next five games. Only twice before during his Heat tenure (early in year one, late in year two) had LeBron scored so few points over a five-game stretch… With his team having lost four of five, Erik Spoelstra wants to give his players a mental break. So he scheduled no practice for today and no shoot-around on Friday, when Miami plays Denver. It’s unusual not to have one or the other when games aren’t back-to-back... As we mentioned yesterday, ESPN/ABC wants Chris Fowler to replace Brent Musburger as the network’s lead play-by-play voice on college football. And ESPN/ABC made it official today, announcing Fowler would assume those duties, paired with Kirk Herbstreit, in a new contract that runs through 2023.