While it’s not yet official, Branden Albert and the Miami Dolphins are done with each other. Miami is moving on from the two-time Pro-Bowler and moving Laremy Tunsil outside.
Many are saying that the move isn’t the smartest given the offensive line problems Miami has had over the last decade. They point to how well the Dolphins played last season when the entire line was healthy. That’s a good place to start in explaining why today’s release is good for the team.
When healthy Branden Albert is very good at his job but he has missed 13 games over the last three seasons and four last season alone. Albert arrived in Miami with back issues and they didn’t simply leave his body because of the hot South Florida sun.
To put it more simply, the Dolphins can’t rely on Albert remaining healthy for an entire season. If he isn’t healthy then that productive offensive line isn’t so productive. Why? Because you have to move Laremy Tunsil outside to replace him. And that is number two on our list.
In 2016 Tunsil showed he is more than capable of playing at a high level in the NFL at left tackle. It’s his natural position and Miami knew that he would eventually replace Albert on the left outside. Had the Dolphins opted to keep Tunsil inside and Albert on the outside they would have been playing the roulette ball in 2017.
Inevitably Albert is going to miss time next season and it’s only a question of how much time will be missed. While Miami can easily move Tunsil outside, it’s problematic to find a suitable option at left guard to replace Tunsil. With Albert gone and Tunsil moving outside, the Dolphins can address the vacancy at guard in free agency or the draft.
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The release of Albert also allows the Dolphins to look long term instead of short term. At most Albert was in Miami for two more seasons if he stayed healthy. Now the Dolphins potentially have a ten year solution at left tackle and can add a guard to fill that hole on the left side. If they actually commit to finding a solution it shouldn’t be a problem.
Miami will enter the off-season needing two starting guards as Jermon Bushrod is an impending free agent and really isn’t a solution at the position.
The cuts today cleared $19.7 million in cap space. Tunsil replaces Albert, Jordan Phillips becomes the number one defensive tackle, and Mario Williams was already replaced in 2016 by a street free agency. Overall the moves today were good business decisions and will now allow the Dolphins to work clearly at filling the holes they may have created.