Just one day ago, it looked like the Miami Dolphins would release left tackle Branden Albert and hand the reins over to Larmey Tunsil on a full-time basis. Now it looks like the team from south Florida has a trade partner in the Jacksonville Jaguars that would potentially send Albert up I-95 to north Florida.
The news of a potential trade was first broken by the Miami Herald but has now been confirmed by several news outlets.
Yesterday, I reported on the fact the Jaguars did not pick up the second-year option on Kelvin Beachum, which could mean the Jaguars’ left tackle will test the free agent market. I also reported Jacksonville had until March 9 to offer Beachum a new deal. The news of a possible trade for Albert would all but assuredly mean there will be a new player protecting Blake Bortles’ blindside in 2017.
Per profootballtalk.com, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Jaguars are interested in Branden Albert, though it’s unclear if the interest is mutual.
The Jaguars have a clear need at the position since they’re not picking up the option on incumbent Kelvin Beachum’s contract. But it’s also not certain the 32-year-old Albert wants to join a team that’s not considered close to contending.
The report also mentioned tight end Julius Thomas as a potential player in the deal, considering his production in Denver came when Dolphins coach Adam Gase was offensive coordinator there. The Jaguars guaranteed $3 million of Thomas’s salary this year by keeping him on the roster already, so they might want to keep him in place and see if he returns to the form they thought they were buying.
Still, the idea of reuniting Thomas with Adam Gase, who was the offensive coordinator in Denver while Thomas was there catching footballs from Peyton Manning is tempting. The Dolphins have a need at the tight end position. Some mock drafts have Miami taking Alabama tight end OJ Howard.
The Jaguars have said they want to get better on both the offensive and defensive lines and could use free agency and the NFL Draft to make that happen. The offensive line was still a point of contention last season despite improving on the number of sacks given up last year. While Blake Bortles was dropped 51 times in 2015, he was only sacked 34 times. Jacksonville may also change some of its philosophy this season under head coach Doug Marrone and executive vice president Tom Coughlin. Both have been known to identify with a heavy dose of a running game, something Jacksonville has not been proficient at in recent years.
Should the deal be made, this will be the third team for Branden Albert since coming into the league. Albert was the first guard taken in the 2008 NFL Draft, as well as the second Virginia Cavalier (behind No. 2 pick Chris Long). He was the highest selected guard in the Draft since Chris Naeole went 10th overall to the New Orleans Saints in the 1997 NFL Draft. In 2014, Albert signed a five-year, $47 million contract with the Miami Dolphins. He was selected to play in his second Pro Bowl in 2015.