The Miami Dolphins have been relatively quiet so far this offseason, but that has changed. The Dolphins made some expected decisions today by deciding that they are going to release three veteran players, which will give them significantly more cap space as they head into free agency.
Miami will release starting left tackle Branden Albert and veteran defensive players Mario Williams and Earl Mitchell, per Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero. The moves free up around $19.7 million of cap space.
Williams, who came over after a down year with the Buffalo Bills, was mostly ineffective for Miami this season. Williams was due to make $8.485 million (none guaranteed) in 2017 and was to count $10.5 million against the cap. Cutting Williams saves $8.5 million for the Dolphins.
Albert’s cut was a move that took a bit of debating. Although he played well for Miami over the course of his 3 season stint, Albert was plagued by injuries and would have counted $10.6 million against the cap in 2017.
The DOlphins drafted left tackle Laremy Tunsil in the 1st round of the 2016 NFL Draft and it was always the plan to have Tunsil eventually take Albert’s place as the team’s starting left tackel. Tunsil played left guard for most of his rookie season but spent some time at left tackle when Albert was injured.
Albert had a terrible performance in the Dolphins playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and was consistently beaten by the Steelers defense. Miami likely saw Albert, 32, on the decline and decided his pay grade was not on par with his performance.
Albert’s release saves $7.2 million on their cap with $3.4 million in dead money.
Mitchell also battled injuries and his release saves $4 million on the Dolphins’ cap, with $500,000 in dead money.
Miami needs to overhaul the linebacker unit and also address defensive tackle and defensive end on the defensive side of the ball.
The release of Albery allows Tunsil to move over to left tackle from left guard but also creates a hole at left guard. The Dolphins are likely to cut Jermon Bushrod, their starting right guard, as well, so offensive line will also be a need as the team enters free agency ahead of the NFL Draft.
Expect Miami to target the guard position in free agency, which has a few attractive options for a team like Miami, who has money to spend.