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The Dolphins wasted no time. They found their left tackle. The most glaring need on this football team has reportedly been filled. Branden Albert has put together a football resume over six seasons that makes you feel confident that this is the right choice at precisely the right moment.
The offensive line, even with so many questions still out there, looks a lot better today than it did yesterday. The Dolphins deserve credit for getting their man. For moving swiftly and confidently. For recognizing what the market dictated and paying the price that needed to pay to acquire a talent of this significance. The contract is reportedly for five years.
It’s a start. A nice start. An important start. Now there is more building to do, especially on the offensive line. Now the Dolphins must find players to help complement Albert’s abilities. They’ll do it in free agency. They’ll do it in the draft. They’ll research every possible avenue. That’s what you need to do when one area needs as many new pieces as this offensive line.
Albert fits the mold the Dolphins are looking for. He excels at protecting the passer, clearly a major need as evidenced by the 58 sacks given up by the Dolphins a season ago. He is big, strong, agile and has a track record of consistency. What more can you really ask for?
The Dolphins were interested in trading for Albert last season, but it never reached fruition. Their interest only intensified when Albert became an unrestricted free agent. It is clear that General Manager Dennis Hickey and Coach Joe Philbin are on the same page here. Both coveted this player. Both realized the importance of starting this reconstruction project at left tackle, Ryan Tannehill’s blind side. Now, it becomes easier to fill in the rest of the pieces.
Quality tackles, let alone left tackles, are a valuable commodity. There is a reason you don’t see many out there in free agency. So when one becomes available, as Albert did, you have to move quickly, have to move decisively. The Dolphins did both.
Another benefit to making this move in free agency is that it gives the Dolphins more options with their first-round pick in the draft. You go into the draft without a left tackle and you absolutely have to take one early on and hope he matures in a hurry. Now, the Dolphins have the freedom to go in a different direction. And that freedom is like a piece of gold with a team having as many needs as the Dolphins.
Another one of those needs was taken care of on Monday when the Dolphins signed free agent safety Louis Delmas, who was available early because he was released by the Lions. Delmas will team with Reshad Jones to give the Dolphins a pair of productive safeties. What do I like most? Delmas brings an added physical presence – translation: he loves to hit – to a defense that could certainly use more of that.
What happens next? Plenty. There are reports that the Dolphins are in contract talks with Texans nose tackle Earl Mitchell. If Mitchell signs, he will fill the void vacated by free agents Paul Soliai (signed with Atlanta) and Randy Starks. Those are difficult players to replace. But the Dolphins obviously have a strong conviction that Mitchell, just 26 years old, has a big upside.
The Dolphins, I believe, will continue to be active players in free agency. They have more decisions to make at linebacker, at running back and, of course, all over the offensive line.
Except for left tackle. You can now check that off your list. The Dolphins have a good one, a real good one. And now they can move on, comfortable that the most important position on the offensive line is in capable hands.
2014 Free Agency: Complete Preview
Free Agency Preview: Offensive Linemen
Free Agency Preview: Defensive Line
Free Agency Preview: Wide Receivers
Free Agency Preview: Tight Ends
Free Agency Preview: Running Backs
Free Agency Preview: Linebackers
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