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How do Dolphins move on after Ted Wells' Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito report?

Posted by Erik Frenz  February 14, 2014 06:20 PM

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The Miami Dolphins can finally begin to move on now that independent investigator Ted Wells has released his report on the Dolphins' workplace conduct — most notably between offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.

Some of this will be easy. Incognito's contract expires at the end of the league year, meaning he'll become a free agent as of March 11, 2014. Martin could be traded, but it's more likely he'll be cut.

It would be easy if that were the extent of the problem, but unfortunately, that's just the beginning. Once you remove those two characters from the equation, center Mike Pouncey and guard John Jerry become the center of attention. The report stated that Incognito, Pouncey and Jerry were "equal-opportunity harassers" and that the bullying was not directed solely at Martin, but another unnamed player ("Player A") and an unnamed assistant trainer.

The Dolphins will have to decide what to do with each. Jerry is a free agent, and is not seen as a fit for the offense, so moving on from him is not a difficult decision.

Pouncey, however, is the Dolphins' best offensive player by many accounts. Would the Dolphins really move on from one of their building blocks so suddenly? Head coach Joe Philbin has jettisoned players for far less, and he has specifically not taken kindly to players who have cast the organization in an unfavorable light with their actions.

This is not the first time Pouncey has done so, either. He was seen out at a club last July wearing a "Free Hernandez" hat along with his brother, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey. Maurkice apologized, Mike did not.

Even if the Dolphins keep him in their long-term plans, the NFL could still choose to suspend Pouncey for violations of workplace conduct policies.

That could also hold true for Incognito, Jerry and offensive line coach Jim Turner. In the report, Turner is named repeatedly as a witness to the verbal harassment, yet he did nothing as the terrible trio were allowed to reign free over their victims. He even told Philbin in early November "that there had been no bullying on the offensive line and that none of his players had been called 'vulgar names.'"

The fact that Turner not only turned a blind eye to the harassment from Incognito to Martin, but even participated in the harassment of Player A, could be grounds for the league to step in and suspend him. The Dolphins recently hired John Benton to be an assistant offensive line coach, perhaps in an effort to prepare for moving on from Turner.

There are plenty of decisions to make in the coming months, and the Dolphins need to address four starting spots on the offensive line. Regardless of what the Dolphins choose to do with Pouncey, that group up front will look much different that the unit that allowed a league-high 58 sacks on quarterback Ryan Tannehill, setting a Dolphins record in the process.

Incognito and Jerry have both hit the end of the line with the Dolphins — there's no reason to believe that either will return to the team next year. What happens with Martin, Pouncey and Turner, however, will give us some insight on where the Dolphins are headed from here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »


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