This upcoming Miami Dolphins season is arguably the franchise's most important campaign in more than a decade. That's why the team should waste no more time in pursuing free agent guard Evan Mathis.
New executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum has made it clear — not only with the Dolphins, but during his prior stint with the New York Jets — that he is not the most patient man in the world. Tannenbaum has barreled into the fold with the Miami Dolphins, throwing fear of risk to the wind.
In Tannenbaum's first offseason with the team, he has managed to already made his mark. His first order of business was signing free agent Ndamukong Suh to a contract worth approximately $114 million with $60 million in guaranteed money. Next, Tannenbaum locked up his franchise player on the other side of the ball, Ryan Tannehill, to a $77.7 million, four-year extension that keeps him under contract through 2020.Since those two major moves Tannenbaum has managed to tinker with the team in a variety of other ways that have Dolphins fans hopeful.
Yet one constant worry sticks out to everyone who covers and roots for the team: Nobody has any idea if this team has enough firepower at offensive guard. Forget two NFL starting caliber offensive guards, does this team even have one?
Is Dallas Thomas the answer? Is Billy Turner? How about rookie Jamil Douglas?
Nobody knows for sure. The fact is, the men fighting for those positions have never done the job at the level they will be asked to do it next season. This, obviously, is where Evan Mathis comes in. Mathis, a 33-year-old, newly available guard, is a two-time Pro Bowler that has in fact, done it at this level. According to Pro Football Focus, not only has he done it at the highest level — almost nobody has done it better there.
Evan Mathis was our top graded OG from 2011-13, and was 2nd last year in just 9 games. Best OG in the game now available. #OnYourMarks— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 11, 2015
Mathis recently told Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald he wasn't exactly sure what team he might catch on with, but he's not too worried about the time he's missed thus far. “Exactly what my options are aren’t as clear as they will be in a week or two,” he tells the Herald. “I haven’t missed anything, no rush at all.”
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There might be no rush for Mathis, but there is a rush for the Miami Dolphins. It's no secret head coach Joe Philbin's job is on the line. Philbin is 23-25 as the Miami coach, and has a garnered a reputation with the fan base of being a guy that less-with-more when it comes to talent. Having been provided the best roster this franchise has seen in years, Philbin enters the season in a playoffs-or-bust position — which is exactly why he should be banging on the front office doors for a player of Mathis's caliber. Entering a do-or-die season with two inexperienced guards on the offensive line is career suicide, and Philbin should know better.
Not only should Philbin be on board with the move, but so should general manager Dennis Hickey. Hickey is sitting in no-mans land right now when it comes to job security. Coming off a season where he performed well as general manager, Mike Tannenbaum was brought into the fold. One would imagine success of the team would at the very least mean his job is safe.
The Miami Dolphins should overspend if they must for Evan Mathis, because offensive guard is the most glaring hole on a team that has so much riding on the 2015-16 season.