The Miami Dolphins appear one step closer to filling their vacant left tackle position. According to ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton, Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Branden Albert was given permission to visit Miami’s team facility to meet with the Dolphins and take a physical. A trade could potentially commence soon after.
Is Albert a good match for the Dolphins? Let’s examine the pros and cons.
Pros: Albert’s skills fit in well with Miami. He’s started 71 games the past five years and is a former first-round draft pick. Reportedly, Kansas City was willing to lower its asking price to Miami’s lowest second-round pick, which is No. 54 overall. That has jumpstarted trade discussions between the two one week before the NFL draft. Albert lives in Miami and is very comfortable in the area, which is important. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill also needs a reliable, blindside protector after four-time Pro Bowler Jake Long left Miami in free agency. Kansas City is expected to take a left tackle with the No. 1 overall pick, which makes Albert dispensable. For a low second-round pick, the move makes sense from a football standpoint for the Dolphins. Albert is more proven than any left tackle Miami could get in the draft, especially in the second round.
Cons: The Dolphins would lose more than a draft pick in a swap with Kansas City. Albert, who is currently on a one-year franchise tag, is seeking long-term security and wants a big contract extension. Miami entered the offseason with more than $40 million worth of cap room. But sizable contracts for free agents Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler and Brian Hartline lowered that number significantly. Albert would be another big contract to add to Miami’s list during this busy offseason. The Dolphins’ cap will be tied up even further for the next few years with this 2013 free-agent crop. Is it worth losing a draft pick and paying a large extension to fill the offensive tackle position? We are about to find out in the next week.
Overall, this is a tricky decision for the Dolphins. Some may feel Miami would be better off drafting a younger left tackle (Lane Johnson?) who will be more affordable. Others may opt for the sure thing in Albert, even if it impacts Miami’s salary cap for the next few years. This is one of the toughest decisions Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland will make this offseason.