Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dolphins nail down first priority, sign tackle Albert


The Miami Dolphins knew exactly what they wanted in free agency, and went out and got it.

The team wasted no time in signing free agent tackle Branden Albert to a five year, $46 million contract shortly after the free agency gates opened at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Official news of the deal was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Albert and the Dolphins had been linked as early as last offseason, when head coach Joe Philbin reportedly wanted to trade for the 6-foot-5, 315-pound left tackle, who had received the franchise tag from the Kansas City Chiefs. Waiting a year likely cost Miami a little in price, but allowed it to avoid giving up a mid- to early-round pick in exchange.

The signing provides a solid bookend for the team's offensive line rebuild.

The deal puts Albert in the top ten of average annual earners at his position, ahead of the Houston Texans' Duane Brown and former Dolphin Jake Long. A first time Pro Bowler in 2013, Albert has ranked in the top ten of Pro Football Focus' pass blocking efficiency statistic in each of the past three seasons.

The main concern with Albert is his injury history, as he's only managed to play full 16 games once in his career due to knee and back issues. Still, the 29-year-old provides an instant, significant upgrade from both Jonathon Martin and the aged Bryant McKinnie, Miami's left tackles of last season.

It was known all along that the Dolphins would need to use a solid chunk of their nearly $40 million in cap space to address multiple offensive line positions. Now that they've landed their big ticket left tackle, we'll see if they turn their wallet to the other spots early in free agency.

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