The Miami Dolphins released veteran defensive players Mario Williams and Earl Mitchell on Thursday, freeing up $12.5 million on their salary cap, but starting left tackle Branden Albert wasn't also released as expected.
Albert's name was not on the NFL's official transactions wire Thursday, though both he and his agent were informed Thursday morning that the Dolphins planned to release him, sources told ESPN. According to sources, the Dolphins received enough interest from around the league after news that Albert would be released broke that they will try to trade the veteran offensive lineman, though a trade can't be completed until the new league year starts on March 9.
One possible team of interest could be the Denver Broncos. Former Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is now the head coach in Denver and knows Albert well. Joseph could use Albert's veteran presence on the field and leadership in the locker room in his first season with the Broncos. Albert also is familiar with the AFC West as a longtime player with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Miami Herald was first to report that the Dolphins had received trade interest in Albert.
Albert has two years left on his contract, but neither season carries any guaranteed money. He is scheduled to be paid $8.9 million and will count $10.6 million against the cap in 2017. If the Dolphins release him, they will save $7.2 million on their cap, leaving $3.4 million in dead money on the cap.
Williams was scheduled to make $8.485 million (none guaranteed) in 2017 and was to count $10.5 million against the Dolphins' cap. By cutting him, Miami saves $8.5 million on the cap, with $2 million in dead money remaining.
Mitchell was to make $3.975 million in 2017 (not guaranteed). Scheduled to count $4.5 million against the Dolphins' salary cap, his release saves the Dolphins $4 million on their cap, with $500,000 in dead money left over.
The Dolphins might move 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil to left tackle if they move on from Albert. Tunsil, a left tackle in college at Ole Miss, played left guard in his rookie season.
Albert, 32, is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, including in 2015 with the Dolphins. The Chiefs drafted him No. 15 overall in the 2008 draft.
He didn't play a full season in any of his three years with the Dolphins because of injuries, including a dislocated wrist last season that he had surgically repaired in November. In the 35 games he played for the Dolphins, including 12 last season, he was a starter.
Williams, 32, signed with the Dolphins last offseason after he was released by the Buffalo Bills. He lost his starting job at defensive end in October and appeared in 13 games (five starts) for Miami in 2016.
Williams was a major disappointment for Miami after signing a two-year, $17 million contract last year. He had a career-low 1.5 sacks and also suffered a concussion and ankle injuries.
Drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Texans in the 2006 draft, Williams has 97.5 career sacks, putting him eighth on the active leaders list.
Mitchell, 29, played the past three seasons for the Dolphins after the Texans selected him in the third round of the 2010 draft. Last season he was limited to nine games (five starts) because of a calf injury.
He has 206 tackles and 5.5 sacks in his career.
The Dolphins went 10-6 last season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
ESPN's James Walker and Adam Caplan contributed to this report.