Fins release Branch, Larsen as rebuild begins

The Miami Dolphins are diving headfirst into a rebuild, with the first step being to get cumbersome veteran contracts off the books.

They started that process Thursday by releasing defensive end Andre Branch and guard Ted Larsen.

The two moves will save Miami $9.15 million in salary-cap space.

Several other prominent Dolphins are in jeopardy of being released soon, including Ryan Tannehill, defensive end Robert Quinn and wide receiver DeVante Parker.

Branch, 29, convinced the Dolphins to give him a three-year, $24 million deal in March 2017 after a promising 2016 season in which he finished with 5.5 sacks. However, after Branch totaled just six sacks over the past two seasons, it was an easy decision for Miami to part ways with his $7 million salary for 2019.

Larsen, 31, made the key block to launch Kenyan Drake into a favorable one-on-one against Rob Gronkowski in the "Miami Miracle" win over the New England Patriots in December.

He was primarily a backup guard, but his $2.15 million salary wasn't in the Dolphins' plans for 2019.

Both players get an early start at finding a new team before free agency begins next Wednesday.