Instant reaction to the Dolphins’ addition of RT Tyson Clabo

by Andrew Bailey

The Dolphins’ slow developing offensive line plan has finally come to a head, with the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reporting that the team has agreed to sign former Atlanta Falcons tackle Tyson Clabo.

Clabo, who was cut by the Falcons on April 4 for salary cap reasons, came into the league undrafted out of Wake Forest and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2010. He’s started a full slate of 16 games every year since 2008 and, according to CBS Sports’ Pat Kirwin, has been flagged just twice for false starts and only seven times for holding in the past four seasons. By all accounts, Clabo is consistent, reliable, and would seem to be far and away the safest of a free agent tackle pool that includes Eric Winston and Winston Justice, who worked out for the Dolphins last week.

For my money, this is the best possible resolution to the Dolphins’ offensive line concerns. By signing a free agent versus, say, trading for an established player like the Kansas City Chiefs’ Branden Albert, the cost of acquisition is purely monetary. The rumored trade for Albert appeared dead once the 2013 NFL Draft had come and gone anyway, but whispers of a deal never quite dissipated completely. At this point, it seems safe to say that deal is completely dead. And that’s for the best. Not only would Albert have demanded a long-term contract with a significant price tag, but he would’ve cost future draft choices. Clabo, an Ironman-type player, may be just a stopgap option at the moment, but the risk and cost are much more manageable.

The other advantage of signing a right tackle versus trading for Albert, who plays on the left side, is that last year’s second round pick, Jonathan Martin, can slide over to the left side where he was every bit as productive last year as Jake Long, who signed this off-season with the St. Louis Rams. There will almost assuredly be bumps in Martin’s play, especially as he’s still developing. But I’d rather the team have a 23-year-old with significant upside on the left with an established, 31-year-old safety valve player on the right side rather than the other way around.

Perhaps best of all is that the big question marks about the tackle position can finally be put to rest. With a proven NFL starter secured, the team can concentrate on depth and development. It felt like a long time coming, but with Clabo officially in the fold, the wait feels worth it now.