The 32-year-old Clabo is in his tenth NFL season and his single-year deal with the Miami Dolphins is worth $3.5 million. Clabo had started 91 consecutive games for Atlanta but the Falcons allegedly released him for salary cap reasons, sacrificing $4.65 million in guaranteed money.
Did Atlanta know that Clabo's decline was imminent?
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Clabo (+23.4) was eighth-best right tackle in the league in 2008 and was ranked 16th among all tackles.
In 2009, Pro Football Focus ranked Clabo (+17.2) 11th among right tackles and 20th among all tackles.
In 2010, Clabo (+21.9) was Pro Football Focus' third-best rated right tackle and tenth among all tackles. The Wake Forest product also made the Pro Bowl in 2010.
Pro Football Focus rated Clabo (+24.4) as the NFL's top right tackle in 2011 and the second-best tackle overall. While he did not receive a Pro Bowl nod, Clabo had established himself as one of the league's best right tackles.
In 2012, Clabo (+21.3) was ranked 5th among the league's right tackles and 14th among all tackles. For three consecutive years, Pro Football Focus had Clabo rated among the five best right tackles in the NFL.
At age 31, and after he consistently provided a high level of play, Atlanta dropped the axe on Clabo.
Jeff Ireland, the Dolphins and every NFL fan were convinced that Miami had landed a top-flight right tackle for a very reasonable price in 2013.
Then the bottom fell out.
Currently, Pro Football Focus ranks Clabo (-8.8) among the league's worst starting right tackles and 64th overall among all NFL tackles.
Hal Habib of The Palm Beach Post reports that Clabo has been put on notice by the Miami coaching staff and may lose his starting position unless his play improves.
Clabo may have lost a step, may be playing hurt or the chemistry with his teammates may be developing slowly. His poor play may be a combination of the aforementioned possibilities.
Clabo's last known injury was in September of 2012 when he was dealing with a hip issue. Clabo never missed a start in 2012. Miami's right tackle does not have a history of injury as was evidenced by his 91 consecutive starts for Atlanta. Injury is likely not a factor.
The most likely explanation is that Clabo's hand and foot speed has deteriorated exponentially in his tenth season. According to Pro Football Focus, Clabo has allowed six sacks in Miami's first five games.
The Buffalo Bills fly in, carrying with them a perfect opportunity for Clabo to turn the corner. If Tyson Clabo does not raise his level of play against the Bills then it may be time for the Miami Dolphins to replace the right side of their offensive line.
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