NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Thursday that the Dolphins are finished with veteran Branden Albert and will look to trade the tackle before releasing him, per a source informed of the situation. A source informed of the situation told Garafolo on Friday that the Jaguars are considered "the primary destination" for Albert.
Still, any potential trade deal for Albert wouldn't become official until March 9 -- the start of the free-agent signing period. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Dolphins have had trade discussions with the Jaguars, per sources informed of the talks, regarding an Albert-Julius Thomas swap. There are obstacles to overcome for this trade to happen, including contracts, per Rapoport.
Albert signed a five-year contract, worth $47 million, in 2014. The 32-year-old veteran had two years remaining on the deal. Moving Albert will save the Dolphins $7.2 million on the salary cap, according to OverTheCap.com.
Albert never played 16 games in three seasons in Miami, including missing four starts last season. The nagging injuries were one cause of the Dolphins' continual struggles to find consistency along an offensive line that struggled during Albert's stint in Miami.
The left tackle hits the open market coming off a down season -- for reference, Pro Football Focus rated him their 65th best offensive tackle in 2016. However, in a league with a dearth of competent left tackles, the two-time Pro Bowler (most recently in 2015) should see some action on the open market.
The Dolphins hand the blindside reins to Tunsil, who spent some time in 2016 filling in for Albert at left tackle. The No. 13 overall pick spent most of his rookie season at guard.
UPDATE: The Jaguars and Dolphins have been in trade talks for days, discussing several scenarios including a potential Thomas for Albert trade, sources involved with the deal told Rapoport. With Albert visiting the Jaguars on Monday, the teams will proceed with the Albert part of the deal first.
If Albert agrees on a new (increased) salary and likes the fit with the Jaguars, they could reach a basic agreement Monday, with a late-round pick going to Miami. A deal to send Thomas to the Dolphins is still possible, but would likely be completed before the new league year begins March 9. Thomas would be expected to take a paycut to join Miami.