The Miami Dolphins recently filled out their coaching staff, with Mike McDaniel and company ready for their first offseason. With free agency starting in under a month, McDaniel’s vision for the future will slowly come to fruition.
But, as seen through staff hires and past success, the basis of that vision lies with the offensive line.
Miami has had no shortage of offensive line issues. Quarterbacks have been ill-protected dating back several regimes, and the Dolphins didn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher under Brian Flores. The last time Miami had a Pro-Bowl offensive lineman was 2015, Joe Philbin’s final season at the helm.
This completely contradicts McDaniel’s style, however. San Francisco was stacked with offensive linemen, and their offense thrived because of it. In addition, they have managed to acquire top-tier talent year in and year out, with their most significant acquisition coming through a trade.
On April 25, 2020, the 49ers traded a third and fifth-round pick in exchange for All-Pro Tackle Trent Williams. Coming off of injury concerns, Williams’ value was at its lowest point. As a result, San Francisco was able to take advantage of the market and change their protection for the foreseeable future.
Williams’ arrival revolutionized the Niners’ line. His ability to pull on zone runs made him difficult to beat, with running to his side yielding elite results. He also took the pressure off of young guns on the line, such as Mike McGlinchey and Laken Tomlinson. They have seen significant improvement since he arrived.
It’s clear that the veteran presence brought by Williams immensely helped Mike McDaniel’s offenses in the past, and another tackle could do the same for Miami.
As the New Orleans Saints find themselves in an unaccommodating cap situation, some high-quality starters will be cap casualties. However, none are as vital as starting offensive tackle Terron Armstead, who will hit the market in March.
He has been among the league’s best offensive tackles, leading a Saints unit that thrived during his tenure. The three-time Pro-Bowler has secured the left side of New Orleans’ line since 2013, and it’s almost unprecedented to see someone of his caliber hit the market.
Much like Trent Williams, Armstead’s success has come from combining elite traits with stellar technique. His speed off the ball is top-notch, and he can keep the pocket clean while mauling in the run game. He has consistently found ways to shut down the league’s best pass rushers while opening up holes for backs like Alvin Kamara.
However, Terron’s availability comes at an interesting time. He only played eight games in 2021, and hasn’t played a full season in his career.
He will also be demanding a high price tag, being one of the only significant tackles on the market, with many teams looking for his services. However, even with these potential concerns, the Miami Dolphins should be at the top of the list of teams vying for free agency’s top offensive tackle.
Dolphins Offensive Line
The aforementioned offensive line struggles reached their breaking point for Miami in 2021. The Dolphins were ranked the worst by almost every metric, struggling to protect the quarterback or find a consistent run game.
Miami hasn’t struggled to allocate resources, however. Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, and Liam Eichenberg were all drafted in the first two rounds of the last two drafts. Unfortunately, their performance has been inconsistent, although partly due to not having a successful veteran in the room.
That’s where Terron Armstead comes in. When healthy, he’s one of the best tackles in football. His mobility in the run game supports Mike McDaniel’s zone scheme, and his ability to pass block on an island would give Tua more time. Furthermore, he would provide Miami’s young lineman someone to look up to. Terron has been the epidemy of consistency, and having someone like that in the locker room can only help.
The Bottom Line on Terron Armstead and the Miami Dolphins
He may be looking for around 20 million dollars, but Miami has more than enough money. To build around their young talent, Miami leads the league in cap space. They possess the funds to re-sign their top guys while also bringing in someone such as Armstead to fill their most significant need.
The injuries may be a concern, but it’s clear that these opportunities don’t come often. But the former Saints starter can change the game for this offense, much like Trent Williams did in San Francisco. Mike McDaniel observed the drastic changes in his offenses, and I’d bet he’s chomping at the bit to make the big move. So it just makes sense for him to end up with the Miami Dolphins, and signing him should be their number one priority.