The PhinPhanatic staff is recapping the 2016 season for each Miami Dolphins player as the team prepares for the start of free agency. Here is the 2016 player recap for starting left tackle Branden Albert.
Branden Albert has been on the Dolphins’ roster since joining the team as an unrestricted free agent on March 12, 2014. After playing for the Kansas City Chiefs for the first six years of his NFL career, the Dolphins signed Albert to a five-year, $47 million contract in 2014, including an $8.5 million signing bonus, $29 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $9.4 million. He served as the team’s starting left tackle in 2016.
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Albert started all 12 of the games that he played in during the 2016 season. He missed the Week 4 game against the Bengals with an ankle injury, and he left the Week 10 game against the Chargers with a dislocated wrist before returning in a cast a few weeks later to play against the Ravens. Albert had started and played in 14 games during the 2015 season.
When on the field, Albert’s performance in 2016 was once again solid. Albert did a good job protecting Ryan Tannehill’s blindside while provide decent run blocking to Jay Ajayi and the other Miami running backs. In fact, Albert was flagged for penalties only 3 times during the regular season (2 false starts and 1 holding penalty). Although he did not have the Pro Bowl type season he enjoyed in 2015, he likely would have received more Pro Bowl consideration had he played in more games. Just as importantly, Albert served as a powerful veteran mentor to Laremy Tunsil, his likely replacement.
The upcoming offseason could be an interesting one for Albert and the Dolphins. When healthy, Albert was one of the most solid and consistent performers on the offensive line. At the same time, Albert is now 32 and has had injuries keep him out of 6 games over the past two seasons. In addition, Albert is scheduled to make $8.875 million in 2017 and $9.575 million in 2018. The Dolphins could waive Albert and move Tunsil to left tackle in 2017, but doing so would result in a hole at the left guard spot. Needing to address the center position as well as upgrade other spots on the roster, I would not be surprised if the Dolphins seek to restructure Albert’s contract to keep him around for at least one more season but at a reduced price.