Branden Albert signs with Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins wasted little time in free agency addressing their problematic situation along the offensive line, signing OT Branden Albert to a deal Tuesday worth a reported $46 million over five years. Albert stood to be one of the top tackles available on the market but lasted little more than a few minutes past the 4 p.m. ET start of the free-agent period before inking his new contract.
Because of ineffective play and the infamous Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin drama, the Dolphins entered this offseason needing a near-total rebuild along their offensive line. Martin opened the 2013 season as the team's starting left tackle, then ceded that job to Bryant McKinnie (acquired in a trade from Baltimore) after leaving the team unexpectedly. Incognito, currently a free agent, was the team's starter next to Martin at guard for half the year. The right side of the line consisted of John Jerry and Tyson Clabo, both free agents as well.
The only full-time starter projected to be back in 2014 was center Mike Pouncey; Nate Garner, who made six starts last season, but along with Incognito was mentioned as a subject of bullying in the recent Wells report, remains on the depth chart.
Regardless, Miami's desperation level was off the charts up front, both in terms of on-field play and locker-room presence. Albert should serve to improve both situations.
Since being a first-round pick back in 2008, Albert has started 83 games for the Chiefs -- including 12 plus a playoff game in 2013. Despite missing four contests last season, he claimed his first Pro Bowl berth. He graded out as Pro Football Focus' No. 28 tackle; McKinnie and Martin checked in at 65 and 60, respectively.
There remains ample work to be done here for Miami, despite the steady O-line foundation of Albert and Pouncey. A step forward from third-round pick Dallas Thomas, who struggled in limited duty during his rookie season, would be a boost. Signing Albert should not exclude the Dolphins from considering an offensive lineman in the draft, especially if one of the top three tackles -- Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan -- happens to slip closer to their spot at the No. 19 pick.
The situation is substantially more promising than it was even 24 hours ago, however, thanks to Albert.
Grade: B. Dropped the Dolphins from a B-plus to a B upon the revelation of financial terms here -- $46 million over five years with $25 million guaranteed. Count that as a massive investment in a player who has had injury issues during the past couple seasons. The Dolphins had to make this move, and their line clearly will benefit. But for what the Dolphins put on the table here, they need their new anchor to suit up every single week.