The Miami Dolphins went shopping for a new center in free agency last year before ultimately signing Ted Karras, but they could be right back in the same spot at the start of the 2021 league year.
Karras had a solid, if unspectacular, season for the Dolphins but is headed for free agency again because he was signed last offseason to a one-year contract. That obviously would change if the Dolphins decide to re-sign him before he hits the open market March 17, but those re-signings usually are done by this time of year.
This suggests that the Dolphins are looking to upgrade at the center position, either through free agency again or through the draft.
When it comes to free agency, the best player on the market is All-Pro Corey Linsley from the Green Bay Packers, and there was an interesting development involving him Wednesday.
Linsley was graded by Pro Football Focus as easily the best center in the NFL in 2020, even though he was not selected to the Pro Bowl. He has started all 99 games he has played for the Packers after arriving as a fifth-round pick out of Ohio State in 2014.
Linsley's performance in 2020 was a big reason for the success of the Packers running game and that of Aaron Jones, which should be considered amid talk of potential Dolphins interest in the running back.
There logically should be several teams interested in signing Linsley, among them the Jacksonville Jaguars with an obvious connection being that Linsley played for Urban Meyer at Ohio State.
There are some drawbacks with Linsley, the first being that he'll turn 30 in late July but the more significant being the money he could command. His market value, according to spotrac.com, was based at $9.75 million.
That's quite a bit more than the $3 million the Dolphins paid Karras last offseason. Then again, spotrac.com estimated Karras' market value at $10.2 million per year.
Karras was ranked 17th by Pro Football Focus among 36 centers. One spot ahead of Karras was another pending free agent, David Andrews of the New England Patriots.
Karras backed up Andrews for three seasons before he stepped into the starting lineup in 2019 after Andrews was sidelined because of blood clot issues. Spotrac.com has Andrews' market value at $7.1 million per year.
The other intriguing free agent center on the market is Alex Mack, who's a six-time Pro Bowl selection who has played all 16 games 10 times in 12 NFL seasons but who will be 36 in November and earned $9 million in 2020.
The Dolphins also could take a long look at Karras' backup, Michael Deiter, who started 15 games at guard as a rookie third-round pick in 2019 before appearing in only one game last season.
Then there's the draft, where there are a couple of prospects likely to get selected on the second of the three days (Rounds 2 and 3): Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma, Landon Dickerson from Alabama and Josh Myers from Ohio State.
Given that they did take three offensive linemen in the 2020 draft, maybe the Dolphins will look to get some experience at the center position, which brings us back to free agency.
Re-signing Karras definitely is an option for the Dolphins, but so is trying to land Linsley or Andrews.