DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins will have to completely rebuild the offensive line this offseason. The team will need new players at tackle and guard, but one player from last year wants to make the transition a little easier.
Mammoth left tackle Bryant McKinnie told thefinsiders.com that he’d like to finish his career with the Dolphins. Miami acquired McKinnie in a midseason trade last year and he took over on the left side for the remainder of the season.
McKinnie, 34, has seen his best days pass him by, but he played better towards the end of the season after getting more acquainted with the Dolphins’ system. It was reminiscent of the renaissance he had the season before in Baltimore during the team’s Super Bowl Run.
One of McKinnie’s problems was he had to deal with losing veteran Richie Incognito for most of the season due to the text messaging scandal with Jonathan Martin.
“If I had more time, I wouldn’t have had to worry about the person next to me, I could’ve focused more, and the communication would have been better,” said McKinnie. “Towards the end I got a little better, but I got drained too. I didn’t have a bye week, and I came off a short offseason and then went straight back in. I needed the time to hit the refresh button, but I thugged it out.”
McKinnie, who played his college ball just down the road in Coral Gables for the University of Miami, said it would be great to finish off his legendary career in the city that got him his shot in the NFL.
“We have a new general manager so that’s good, and we’ll just see how things go,” McKinnie said. “I plan on playing for a couple more years and it would be great to just finish my career there where I already have a home.”
McKinnie, if healthy, may provide a good bridge for the Dolphins as the team looks to replace four of the starting five offensive linemen. The only player definitely coming back from last year’s squad is All-Pro center Mike Pouncey.
If McKinnie returned at a healthy weight and in shape, keeping him at left tackle and Pouncey in the middle, the Dolphins could only have to replace three offensive linemen.
The NFL Draft will be one place the Dolphins start to look for help, but also free agency, which starts in a couple of weeks.
Looking at the tackle position, the top tackle likely to come available in free agency is Branden Albert, who the Dolphins tried to acquire last year in a trade. Signing Albert would command a lot of cap space and also render the need for McKinnie to a bench position, which would be a solid left tackle pairing.
At guard, the Dolphins have options including Travelle Wharton, Geoff Schwartz, and others. The Fins could also look to sign a center like Alex Mack and slide Pouncey to one of the guard positions to quickly turn a weakness into a strength for the team.
In the draft, the Dolphins have the 19th pick in the first round. By that pick, the top tackles like Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson will be long gone. But, tackles like Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin, Cyrus Koundjio, and Morgan Moses will likely still be on the board.