Though it was rumored earlier in the week that they’d cut him, the Miami Dolphins are instead prepared to send left tackle Branden Albert elsewhere in a trade. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the Dolphins will trade Albert to the Jacksonville Jaguars for tight end Julius Thomas, pending a possible restructuring of contracts and passing of physicals.
Albert signed a five-year, $47 million contract with the Dolphins prior to the 2014 season and has been the team’s starting left tackle since that point. He has struggled with injuries during his three seasons with the team, missing 13 of a possible 48 games. His played slipped badly in 2016 after a Pro Bowl season during the 2015 campaign. As mentioned, the Dolphins were reportedly preparing to release him (and several other players) in order to create $7.2 million in cap space earlier this week.
Thomas, meanwhile, signed a five-year, $46 million contract with the Jaguars prior to the 2015 season. He has played 21 of a possible 32 games, hauling in 76 passes for 736 yards and nine touchdowns. During his six-season NFL career, he has played more than 12 games in a season just twice — his final two years with the Broncos. He made the Pro Bowl both times. The Jags would save only $1.7 million against the cap by cutting Thomas, so a trade does make slightly more sense for them.
The Jaguars have been looking for offensive line help in front of quarterback Blake Bortles, so a flier on Albert makes some degree or sense for them, but a 32-year old coming off injury-plagued seasons and carrying a significant cap hit is a risky bet. The same is true of the Dolphins, who could use a field-stretching tight end that works well in the red zone but may not want to pay out so much to a player that doesn’t stay on the field consistently.
The financial implications of swapping players with large base salaries still remaining on their contracts are complex, which is likely why the teams reportedly want to get the players to restructure their deals.