Can Miami Dolphins Upgrade RT In Free Agency?

By Matthew Cannata
Tyson Clabo
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

As the Miami Dolphins head into the negotiating period this weekend and free agency on Tuesday, it’s time to take a look at who can fill some of their needs during this time. The Dolphins are looking to move upgrade from Tyson Clabo, although they may re-sign him as a stopgap option if they can’t find much of an upgrade.

The RT needs to be a powerful run blocker first. Teams tend to give a break in terms of pass protection because they usually have a tight end and/or running back to help them out. This is especially important with the Dolphins because if they sign Branden Albert like the entire world expects them to, they will need to direct most of their runs to the right side. Why? Albert isn’t known for his run blocking.

Clabo started off the season very shaky, grading in the negative the first five out of six games according to Pro Football Focus. He was then benched for a week, but was forced to come back into the lineup due to injuries and suspensions. After that though, he improved quite a bit, grading in the negative only once out of the last nine games. He had an overall grade of -0.8 for the season and played 962 snaps. His pass block grade was 0.6 and his run block grade was -8.4.

In my opinion, there are only two right tackles worth talking about on the market, and they are Zach Strief and Austin Howard. However, the wild card is Eben Britton, who can play just about every position on the line. If the Dolphins aren’t talking to one of those three, it might be prudent to re-sign Clabo or look to the draft to get their starting right tackle.

Strief will be 31-years old this season, so he would only be here for a few years and would most likely help develop a rookie either this year or next. He had an overall grade of 28.9 for the season and played 1,213 snaps. His pass block grade was 23.4 and his run block grade was -0.4. Strief has only missed 12 games since 2006 due to injury. However, he has battled ankle and back injuries the past two years.

Howard is a grinder and has worked his way up the depth chart and off the practice squad. He had an overall grade of -1.0 for the season and played 1,071 snaps. His pass block grade was 1.9 and his run block grade was -10.2. Howard has not missed any games due to injury since 2010, which is a very good sign. He is 26 years old so if the Dolphins sign him, he would be the long-term answer at right tackle if everything worked out.

Britton is interesting because he can play left guard, right guard, and right tackle. Last season, he played some snaps in almost every game at right guard, although he did play 11 snaps at left guard and just about a full game at right tackle. Out of 239 snaps in 13 games, he had an overall grade of 4.1. His pass block grade was -0.8 and his run block grade was 3.8. Interesting enough, his best run blocking game was when he played right tackle, where he graded out at 1.6.

What does all this mean? It means that there aren’t a lot of quality right tackles on the free agent market. The Dolphins will have to decide between re-signing Clabo, go after Strief, Howard, Britton, someone else, or find their man in the draft. Britton has the best run blocking grade out of all of these players, but he is a question mark because he was a part-time player. Can this success translate into a full-time starter at right tackle?

It’s a tough call to predict which direction they will go in, but we should have some answers relatively soon.

Matthew Cannata covers the Miami Dolphins for Follow him on Twitter @PhinManiacs. Like him on Facebook, and add him to your Google Network.

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