This is a mistake, for the Miami Dolphins must trade Mike Pouncey.
Not can trade, not should trade, must trade.
Is he a great center? Yes, that's without argument, as he's one of the best in the AFC.
There is just so much surrounding him that it might actually help the Dolphins out more if they trade him than it would to keep him.
Let's look at Pouncey on the field first, where again I should mention he's great and one of the better centers in the AFC. He also seems to have trouble getting out in front on his blocks at times.
I've watched All-22 footage of the Dolphins a few times since the end of the season, concentrating on certain positions, and when I concentrated on him, I saw that issue so much that it actually started to annoy me.
However, he does do a good job of making up for it when he does have that issue, enough that I could gloss over it if it wasn't for the fact that Pouncey has a world of trouble surrounding him that it would be wise for the Dolphins to attempt to get away from.
First, there's the Aaron Hernandez case, where Pouncey has had some involvement in. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated reported back in October that Pouncey was served a grand-jury subpoena to testify in the case.
In December, Andrew Abramson of The Palm Beach Post reported that Pouncey did testify, but his involvement in that case was a bit too close for my comfort at least, especially with Pouncey wearing that "Free Hernandez" baseball cap then, as reported by Kevin Patra of NFL.com, not apologizing for it like his brother did.
But even then I'd probably let that go if it were those two incidents, and that's it.
Unfortunately for Pouncey, he was implicated heavily in the Ted Wells' investigation.
The investigation shows that Mike Pouncey was just as involved in the bullying as Richie Incognito, and at times, he came off looking worse.
Based off of reading the Wells report, not only did it confirm my initial beliefs about the case (every party was at fault), but it also confirmed that Pouncey and John Jerry were just as bad, if not worse, on the bullying spectrum.
I’d even go so far as to say that in my eyes, Incognito is more redeemable than Mike Pouncey (I do think that Incognito will play in the NFL again and be a productive player, but despite that, I wouldn't re-sign him because he's not a good fit for the Dolphins; the scheme used is one that doesn't fit his skill set.)
With Pouncey, this looks like a disturbing behavioral trend, one that doesn’t seem to show any signs of stopping because Pouncey hasn’t ever been forced to be held accountable for his off-the-field actions, and he won’t be until the NFL eventually suspends him.
This is a movie we have all seen before, and it doesn’t particularly end well. Keeping Pouncey is the risk here.
The other big reason for a Pouncey trade is that Miami has to officially turn the page on the “Bullygate” incident and everything having to do with it.
The Dolphins already announced the firing of offensive line coach Jim Turner on Twitter, and Jonathan Martin will likely be traded or released, while Jerry and Incognito are free agents who won't be re-signed. I’d even recommend the locker rooms be painted another color and the Dolphins revert to using the old logo.
Regardless of what you might think of what happened (let me remind you again that we weren’t there, and, therefore, we will never really know what happened), it was a horrendously embarrassing moment in Miami Dolphins history, one that the team should run from and not embrace in any way.
The investigation did shed light on this: The offensive line lacked leadership and seemed too busy with extracurricular activities to truly concentrate on football.
Need I remind you that this was one of the worst offensive lines of all time? Need I remind you that the line performed better once both Martin and Incognito were out. Pouncey even missed two games in 2013, and the offensive line's performance didn't drop off in any significant way (not that they were so good with Pouncey under center).
In the two games Pouncey missed against the San Diego Chargers and Carolina Panthers, the Dolphins did give up a combined seven sacks (which was their average anyway since they gave up 3.6 sacks per game), but the running game ran for a combined 156 yards (104 yards against San Diego, but an average of 78 yards per game). The Dolphins wound up going 1-1 in those two games.
How were those two games any different from the other 14 games with Pouncey where Miami went 7-7, allowed an average of 3.6 sacks per game and ran for an average of 91.7 yards per game?
Where exactly did Pouncey make a difference on the field once you really start to look deeper at the Dolphins?
The counter to that is Pro Football Focus, which graded Pouncey very well when it came to pass blocking. However in an earlier piece, PFF's Nathan Jahnke points out that in his 10 games, Pouncey graded negatively in run blocking in six of them.
A lot of Dolphins fans felt insulted by my insinuation that Pouncey could be dealt for a third-round pick, but when you look at everything around him, from his play (not as good as you’d think) to his off-the-field issues, you’ll probably see what I see and what other NFL GMs likely see as well.
If the Dolphins can get a third-rounder for Pouncey, it will be a steal—for the Dolphins.
Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.