Written by Matthew Cannata
This past offseason, 279 players switch teams during the NFL free agency period. Some teams went crazy signing everyone left and right like the Miami Dolphins did two years ago, some sat back and did nothing and some, like the Miami Dolphins this year, struck quickly but then sat back and signed players methodically and with a purpose.
Going into free agency, everyone knew the Dolphins would sign a left tackle. The question was who it would be. Many fans wanted Baltimore Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe while some wanted current Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert. There were valid debates for both players along with strengths and weaknesses for both but the Dolphins ultimately decided on Albert and signed him to a five-year $47 million dollar contract within the opening minutes of the free agency period.
ESPN seems to agree with this signing as they have ranked him as the top signing of the period. This is because last year, the tackle situation and the offensive line as a whole was a mess. Targeting in on the left side though, Jonathan Martin allowed on average one sack, one hit and two hurries per game. Bryant McKinnie, who was traded for after Martin left, gave up four or more pressures in seven of his ten starts.
From 2011 - 2013, Albert was the third best pass-blocking left tackle in the league with 4.6 pressures allowed per 100 pass blocks. Andrew Whitworth of the Cincinnati Bengals ranked first with 3.6 sacks per 100 pass blocks and Joe Thomas was second with 3.7 pressures allowed. Behind Albert was Duane Brown with 4.8, Jason Peters with 5.0 and Trent Williams with 5.0.
There is no doubt that the signing of Albert has solidified the left side of the line and the Dolphins also seem to have gotten a leader in Albert as he already has taken the younger players under his wing such as offensive guard Dallas Thomas. The line should be much improved in 2014 and Albert will be a huge reason why.