Free Agent Profile: OT Vernon Carey

With the free agent market open for business later this month, the Chargers will keep their eyes open for an upgrade at right tackle. One candidate could be Dolphins OT Vernon Carey, a former first-round pick from the University of Miami who has started 62 of 64 games over the last four seasons.

Vernon Carey was viewed as a disappointment early in his career. After being selected with the No. 19 pick in the 2004 draft, Carey struggled out of the gates as the Miami Dolphins could not decide whether to play him at left or right tackle.

Carey began to show marked progress once he settled in on the right side. In 2007, under the guidance of former Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, Carey allowed just three sacks. He gave up 4.5 sacks last season, but was called for just one false start and was never flagged for holding.

By comparison, Jeromey Clary permitted 6.5 sacks last season while jumping offsides five times. Clary allowed four additional sacks during the postseason, making for a grand total of 10.5 sacks ceded in 18 games.

OT Vernon Carey
Al Bello/Getty

Carey played a vital role in Miami's efficient offensive attack last season. The Dolphins were the only team in the NFL to rank in the top 11 in rushing and passing offense. Miami averaged 118.6 rushing yards per game, more than 10 yards better than the Chargers, and ranked in the top 10 in sacks allowed (1.6 per game).

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee Carey will make it to the open market. Although he is scheduled for unrestricted free agency, the Dolphins will make a push to retain him, according to this story by the Sun Sentinel.

"The Dolphins want Carey back and they will continue to bolster their offensive line," said a league source to the Sentinel.

However, the Bill Parcells era in Miami has been marked by turnover and Carey was drafted by another regime. If he becomes a free agent on Feb. 27, the Dolphins could move quickly to land a replacement, opening the door for another suitor to swoop in.

If the Chargers do come to terms with Carey, it would mark the second consecutive offseason in which San Diego signed a free agent tackle away from Miami. Last year, the Chargers agreed to a two-year contract with former Dolphin L.J. Shelton, who started two games at left tackle for the Chargers and will return as a backup in '09.

Expert's Opinion

Alain Poupart is the publisher of Dolphin Digest and has covered every one of Carey's games since he entered the NFL. To read Poupart's thoughts on the possibility of Carey coming to San Diego, click here.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.

BoltsReport Top Stories