Pouncey Becomes the Center of Attention
What We Learned from the Block-Buster Deal, and How it Will Affect Miami’s Other Moves This Offseason
As a team with a reputation for struggling to develop their own homegrown players, resigning one of the team’s better draftees is a huge positive for Miami. Mike Pouncey has been a standout through first four seasons with the team, becoming one of the NFL’s best centers. When a long-term contract like this is given out, it means more than just another player being secured. This piece will examine the implications that Mike Pouncey’s new contract will have on other elements of the Miami Dolphins.
Drafting a Guard Early:
Last season, the interior of the Dolphins’ line was constantly being switched around due to injuries. This resulted in Mike Pouncey playing out of position at guard for much of the year. Now that Joe Philbin has announced that Pouncey will move back to his original position for 2015, Miami is shorthanded on interior lineman. This could lead the Dolphins to draft a guard early, which would add another new face to the offensive line. There is not much first round value at the position, but look for second round players like Duke’s Laken Tomlinson, or Hobart’s Ali Marpet (pictured) to get strong consideration from the team. With Albert, James, and Pouncey all in place, the team needs one more solid starter to be fully loaded for a strong 2015 season.
New Kind of Pressure on #17:
Mike Pouncey’s deal is a strong message to Ryan Tannehill that it is time for him to succeed now. Joe Philbin is in a make-or-break season, and Ryan Tannehill is most likely in the same
boat with contract negotiations pending. Locking up Pouncey for 5 years is a message to
Tannehill that they want him to join the group of mainstay players for the Dolphins. Mike Pouncey has proven himself as one of the league’s best players at his position, and was rewarded generously. The pressure now shifts to Ryan Tannehill to show that he is ready to lead the Dolphins to a successful season in 2015, and that if he succeeds the front office has no problem rewarding him for it.
Statement of Confidence in Pouncey On and Off of the Field:
Mike Pouncey has not been a choirboy during his time with the Dolphins. He was somewhat involved in the team’s bullying scandal, and reportedly had a poisonous relationship with his former UF teammate, and current Massachusetts state inmate, Aaron Hernandez. Last year there were questions about a potential altercation during the Pouncey Twins’ birthday celebration in which the twins assaulted a club patron. Despite these transgressions, his contract is a statement that the team thinks Pouncey can move past his negative associations, and become a face of the franchise for the Dolphins. Miami has been looking for players to step-up as billboard-worthy names, and this deal is a message that they want Pouncey to become one of those players.
This is also a vote of confidence for Pouncey’s health, which was an issue last season. Many entered this offseason worried that his hip injury would continue to nag him. That concern should be dampened by his contract. The rich deal he received shows faith from the team that he will be 100% healed in 2015, and ready to return to his usual level of play at the center position.
Baiting Ryan Tannehill into a Pay-Cut:
Miami has now secured three of their five starters on the OL for the long haul. Assuming Albert and Pouncey come back healthy, and Ja’Wuan James takes the jump he is expected to, the offensive line could be elite for the Dolphins for a long time. The team could be prepared to leverage Ryan Tannehill by saying that Albert, James, and Pouncey are essentially resources committed to him, and that his salary affects the team’s ability to maintain his protection. Tannehill has to like what he sees with the offensive line being locked up for at least 4 years, and it will have to play a role in his decision as to whether or not he should help the Dolphins out financially when negotiating his contract. Now it is just a matter of whether or not the Dolphins can effectively use those moves as leverage when hammering out a new deal with the signal-caller.
Mike Tannenbaum Isn’t Going Anywhere for a Long Time:
The Miami Dolphins hired Mike Tannenbaum to oversee their football operations, and his fingerprints have been all over this year’s moves. Tannenbaum is in the process of deciding whom “his guys” will be going forward with the team, and Pouncey has just been identified as one of those guys.
NFL rosters are usually subject to a great deal of transformation when a regime change is undergone. Mike Tannenbaum would not be subject to one of the regime changes (specifically the removal of Joe Philbin), and he is currently showing fans which players he sees as anchors for the team. Ndamukong Suh and Mike Pouncey are the current players to get the “Mike Tannenbaum Seal of Approval”, and Ryan Tannehill seems to be next. This deal shows that Ross is allowing Tannenbaum to pick the players he wants to keep around, and that his fate with the Dolphins is not tied to that of Joe Philbin or Dennis Hickey.