Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland has acknowledged the team’s exploration of the “trade market” for a left tackle — and by that he means the Chiefs’ Branden Albert, who wants out of Kansas City.
But whether Ireland ultimately decides to fill his void at left tackle with Albert instead of at next week’s NFL Draft remains unclear.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who could use the No. 1 overall pick in next week’s draft on a left tackle, clarified Thursday evening that Kansas City has granted Miami permission to talk with Albert’s agents about a long-term contract that would help lead to a trade.
But ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Thursday that the Chiefs have not given the Dolphins permission to bring Albert in for a visit and a physical exam. The teams have not spoken in two days, and the Chiefs will not grant that permission until they receive a suitable trade offer, the report said.
Albert, 28, is likely the best veteran available to fill the Dolphins’ hole at left tackle after the departure of Jake Long. But Albert, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 316 pounds, would be costly if he is available.
Albert, the Chiefs’ first-round draft choice in 2008, was given the franchise tag this off-season, guaranteeing him a $9.8 million salary in 2013. Albert, however, is unhappy that the Chiefs apparently plan to draft another left tackle and move him to the right side.
He is living in South Florida and not attending the Chiefs’ voluntary off-season workouts, and has said he wants to be traded to a team that would let him play left tackle.
Next week’s draft has three elite left tackle prospects, but all are expected to be gone by the time the Dolphins pick at No. 12. If they want one of the three, they likely would have to trade multiple draft choices, including that first-rounder. And the Dolphins might not want to enter the season with a rookie and second-year pro Jonathan Martin as their starting tackles.
Albert probably would cost the Dolphins a second- or third-round pick in a trade, plus a contract extension. The Dolphins have $8.2 million in salary-cap space, according to NFLPA records, and couldn’t fit in Albert’s current salary. They would have to sign him to a longer-term deal with a lower salary this season.
Albert missed three games because of a back injury last season and has started all 16 games just once in five NFL seasons.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock endorsed the Dolphins’ pursuit of Albert on Thursday.
“Miami’s already pushed the chips out there. They want to compete, but you can’t compete without a left tackle in this league,” he said. “Miami’s one of the teams that has to stand up and go get him.”