Laremy Tunsil, Josh Sitton cohesive on left side of Miami Dolphins’ o-line

The Dolphins need Laremy Tunsil to be one of the top left tackles in the league. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — The Dolphins’ philosophy on signing left guard Josh Sitton was twofold. Not only did they need to bulk up the interior of their offensive, but they believed he would instantly make left tackle Laremy Tunsil better.

Tunsil struggled last season after playing at left guard as a rookie, which surprised him and the team because he’s been a left tackle all his life. Adding an 11th-year veteran of Sitton’s caliber alongside him is bound to make things easier.

“I try to help out young guys, whether it’s the guy right next to me or the guy at the 3-spot, or whatever it is,” Sitton said this week. “I have guys that I’ve played next to when I was young — specifically Mark Tauscher, Scott Wells, Chad Clifton and guys like that — that kind of took me under their wing and taught me a few things.

“My approach is my door is always open and Laremy has been good about talking to me. I think we’ve already gotten off on the right foot with the communication and that relationship.”

Miami coach Adam Gase has already noticed the impact early in Organized Team Activities and said, “It’s really a great thing to see how he works, him and Laremy, and how they talk through things and the amount of time they spend with each other.”

The Dolphins drafted Tunsil No. 13 overall in 2016 and played him at left guard because they had left tackle Branden Albert coming off a Pro Bowl season. They unloaded Albert to the Jaguars at the end of the year with the belief that Tunsil would ease back into his natural position, but their o-line issues continued.

Tunsil seemed disappointed almost anytime he discussed his play during the season, and Pro Football focus ranked him No. 47 in the league among all offensive tackles.

“There’s probably a lot of us sitting here that thought it would be an easy transition for him,” Gase said two months ago. “It’s still left tackle in the NFL. I think it was tougher for him than what all of us anticipated.”

Toward the end of the season, however, Tunsil started to settle in at the position.

“I saw a guy that started to notice that it’s not that easy,” Gase continued. “He went to work and he practiced hard and he was great in meetings. The way he was watching film and his development as a professional improved last year. I think he’s excited moving forward, getting Josh in there and working with him, and to really be the guy that he’s wanted to be since he came out.”

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Adam Gase says retiring Branden Albert was ‘big part’ of Miami Dolphins’ success

Branden Albert. (Bill Ingram/The Post)

DAVIE — Being in two different cities, about all Adam Gase knew of Branden Albert in 2014 was that a standout player had suffered a bad knee injury.

“I didn’t really understand what he had to go through until I got here,” Gase said.

Albert had been injured in 2014 but came back to make the Pro Bowl in 2015 at his familiar left tackle spot. Even after Laremy Tunsil was drafted in the first round last year, Albert declared that he still was the left tackle of the Dolphins — and he was, until Miami traded him to Jacksonville this offseason.

As Albert was announcing his retirement Monday at age 32, he thanked the Dolphins, who made it clear the respect was mutual.

Gase said he learned from trainers that there was a question over whether Albert would ever recover from knee surgery to play again.

“I’ve been told that it was about as nasty as you can get,” Gase said. “It just shows the toughness he has.”

Gase said Albert’s attitude rubbed off on teammates.

“I think he was a big part of the reason why we had success last year,” Gase said.

In his announcement, Albert thanked Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, former coach Joe Philbin and ex-GM Dennis Hickey. He said he planned to return to Miami, “the place that I now call ‘home,’ and running my businesses, while giving back to the community.”

Defensive end Cameron Wake said playing with Albert was a privilege.

“A tremendous football player, even better man,” Wake said. “One of the guys who we always go back and forth. I think we looked up to one another as far as being in the game for as long as we have and going through the things we had to, to stay on top for as long as we could.”

Wake said he was happy to see Albert “bow out in his own terms — may hat’s off to him and obviously wish him the best.”

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Branden Albert retirement costs Miami Dolphins draft pick

Branden Albert is done after nine seasons. (AP)

DAVIE–Former Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert announced his retirement this morning, ending a nine-year career that included three strong seasons with Miami.

The Dolphins traded Albert to the Jaguars shortly after last season as part of an agreement to bring in Julius Thomas. It was broken into two separate deals, with Albert going out in exchange for Jacksonville’s 2018 seventh-round pick. That pick acquisition is negated by his retirement, a source said.

The Dolphins moved on from Albert in favor of moving 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil from left guard to tackle.

Albert, a two-time Pro Bowler, was thought to be in line for the starting left tackle job in Jacksonville before today’s announcement. In his statement, he thanked owner Stephen Ross, former coach Joe Philbin and former general manager Dennis Hickey of the Dolphins.

“I was privileged to spend a few years with the guy,” Miami defensive end Cameron Wake said. “Tremendous football player, even better man. I think we looked up to one another.”

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Ex-Dolphin LT Branden Albert continues messy holdout in Jacksonville

The Dolphins averted a challenging situation by unloading Branden Albert. (Getty Images)

Branden Albert was the opposite of a headache during his three seasons with the Dolphins, but he’s causing some angst in Jacksonville.

Miami traded Albert after deciding it was time to move Laremy Tunsil from guard to his permanent home at left tackle, though coach Adam Gase said the organization initially gave some thought to keeping both players for another season, and Albert’s time with the Jaguars has been marked by a contract holdout. The latest report, via the Times-Union, is that Albert hasn’t spoken with coach Doug Marrone since mid-March.
Continue reading “Ex-Dolphin LT Branden Albert continues messy holdout in Jacksonville”

Report: Former Dolphin Branden Albert holding out in Jacksonville

Branden Albert is holding out in Jacksonville. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins might have averted a problem by trading left tackle Branden Albert to the Jaguars this offseason.

Not only did that move allow Miami to save money and slide Laremy Tunsil into his natural position, but it appears to have spared the team from dealing with a contract dispute. Albert did not report to voluntary workouts in Jacksonville today because he is holding out for a new contract, according to NFL Network.

He has two years and $18.5 million left on the deal he originally signed with Miami.

Albert, 32, was beloved in the Dolphins’ locker room the last few years but has dealt with various injuries recently. He played 35 of a possible 48 games with Miami and hasn’t started 15 in a season since 2011.

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Dolphins saw Laremy Tunsil overtaking Branden Albert at left tackle

The Dolphins didn't want to make Tunsil (67) wait any longer for his inevitable move. (Getty Images)
The Dolphins didn’t want to make Tunsil (67) wait any longer for his inevitable move. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS–The Dolphins are grateful for what they got out of left tackle Branden Albert, but couldn’t wait any longer to move second-year player Laremy Tunsil into his spot.

Miami has a deal in place to send Albert to the Jaguars next week and will shift Tunsil from left guard to tackle. The move will save the team about $7 million in salary cap space, and Tunsil was drafted No. 13 overall last year with the vision of him being the long-term starter at left tackle.
Continue reading “Dolphins saw Laremy Tunsil overtaking Branden Albert at left tackle”

Miami Dolphins look to trade Branden Albert for Julius Thomas

Julius Thomas could be headed to the Dolphins. (Getty Images)
Julius Thomas could be headed to the Dolphins. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins‘ search for a playmaking tight end and a trade partner for departing left tackle Branden Albert could intersect in the next few weeks.

Multiple reports have linked Miami and Jacksonville in a proposed swap of Albert for tight end Julius Thomas, and a league source told The Post the teams are in conversations about the deal, but “nothing is finalized.”

Thomas has been a disappointment in Jacksonville, but made back-to-back Pro Bowls with Denver in 2013 and ’14. Dolphins coach Adam Gase was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator both of those seasons.

Over those two years, with Peyton Manning as his quarterback, Thomas totaled 108 catches, 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns. In two seasons with the Jaguars, those stats dropped to 76 catches, 736 yards and nine scores.

Nonetheless, the Dolphins are desperate to add a dynamic pass catcher at tight end and there could be hope that Gase knows the optimal way to use him. The team record for touchdown catches by a tight end is seven, set by journeyman Anthony Fasano in 2008. Miami has a strong group of skill players headlined by Jarvis Landry and Jay Ajayi, but its best tight end last year was Dion Sims with 256 yards and four touchdowns on 26 receptions.

Thomas, who turns 29 this summer, has three years left on the deal he signed in 2015 and has salary cap hits of $8.3, $9.8 and $10.3 million over those seasons. Those figures are only partially guaranteed, however, and it’s possible Thomas could agree to a new deal with Miami.

No traded can be processed between the teams until March 9, leaving Miami and Jacksonville about three weeks to work out any details such as contract renegotiation and evaluating the players’ health.

Albert’s departure is a foregone conclusion, whether it comes by trade or being cut. Along with the moves the Dolphins made last week, unloading Albert gets them about $50 million under the cap. After three seasons with Miami, including a Pro Bowl appearance in 2015, he will be replaced by second-year player Laremy Tunsil moving from left guard into his spot.

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Miami Dolphins’ Jarvis Landry: Branden Albert will lead wherever he lands up

Jarvis Landry presents an autographed jersey to North Miami Beach Senior High student Ali Choueiki, winner of BankUnited's financial literacy contest. (Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post)
Jarvis Landry presents an autographed jersey to North Miami Beach Senior High student Ali Choueiki, winner of BankUnited’s financial literacy contest. (Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post)

The impending loss of left tackle Branden Albert already is being felt on the Dolphins.

Receiver Jarvis Landry, who joined Albert at the Pro Bowl a year ago, said Thursday night that he’s hoping for the best for a veteran teammate he looks up to.

The Dolphins are in trade discussions with an unspecified team regarding Albert. If a deal can be arranged, the Dolphins likely would add a lower-round draft pick and Albert’s new team can secure his rights before he hits the open market.

If no agreement is reached, Albert will be released. Either way, the matter is expected to be resolved in the next day or so.

“B.A., he’s a leader for us, he’s going to continue to be a leader,” Landry said. “He’s a great guy. He’s a friend of mine, someone that I know personally, and I have a great deal of respect for him.”

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Albert, 32, is said to want to go to a contender to finish his career and the Dolphins hope to be able to grant that wish.

The Dolphins announced earlier Thursday they were releasing defensive end Mario Williams, defensive tackle Earl Mitchell and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The four departures represent $20.1 million in cap savings. That can help in several ways, including attracting players in free agency, retaining free agents such as receiver Kenny Stills and defensive end Andre Branch but also extending the contracts of 2015 co-MVPs Landry and safety Reshad Jones a year before they hit the open market.

Asked if he thought Miami’s additional cap dollars will now land in his bank account, Landry said, “I have no idea.”

Landry coincidentally was appearing at a BankUnited celebration in the team’s locker room at Hard Rock Stadium in honor of North Miami Beach Senior High student Ali Choueiki, winner of $1,000 in an essay contest on financial literacy.

In the winning essay, Landry said, Choueiki talked about using savings, if need be, to pay his way through Marist College, alma mater of Dolphins defensive end Terrence Fede. Landry said, “I might have to make that connection” between Fede and Choueiki.

Landry has made multiple appearances for BankUnited regarding financial literacy, saying he wished that when he was younger he had a role model such as a pro athlete “to stress the importance of saving and financial literacy.

“Now that I have the opportunity to do this through the Dolphins and BankUnited here in the South Florida community, it’s amazing.”

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Miami Dolphins to part ways with LT Branden Albert, DE Mario Williams

Branden Albert. (Bill Ingram/The Post)
Branden Albert. (Bill Ingram/The Post)

From the moment Laremy Tunsil slipped to the Dolphins in the 2016 draft, Branden Albert had the answer to a question every NFL veteran eventually wonders: Who’s going to take my place? The only question was when.

Thursday, Albert got his answer.

The Dolphins are parting with Albert, 32, their former Pro Bowl left tackle, in a move that effectively will perform what Albert has done throughout his career. It will clear space.

Not only will the Dolphins save $7.2 million in salary-cap room, his departure will allow coaches to slide Tunsil over from left guard to his more natural position, left tackle, where it’s hoped he’ll have a long career protecting Ryan Tannehill’s blind side.

Albert was not formally released Thursday, but only because another team apparently has stepped forward to discuss a possible trade before he hits the open market.

Albert’s pending exit was the biggest news on a day in which the team worked to gain $20.1 million in cap space. Waived were defensive end Mario Williams, defensive tackle Earl Mitchell and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

The Williams move had been a forgone conclusion for months. Speculation grew that Albert, too, had played his last game as a Dolphin, and recently, Albert himself told associates he was bracing for such a move. Albert has begun training for next season and does not plan to retire.

Even in the business-first world of pro football, Albert’s departure will resonate in Davie. Few if any players in the locker room were so respected and well-liked, as evidenced by running back Jay Ajayi posting a photo of himself running behind one of Albert’s blocks.

“YOURE A LEGEND TO ME,” Ajayi posted on Twitter.

As soon as Tunsil was drafted, Albert declared, “I’m the left tackle of this team.” Playing the highest-profile position on the line, he later said, is a badge of honor. But as players gathered for training camp, Albert quickly determined Tunsil was both humble and eager to learn. Albert became a mentor to the rookie, never missing a chance to talk him up even as coaches sent signals that perhaps Tunsil wasn’t as ready to start as advertised. It seemed to be nothing more than a motivating tactic.

Albert explained his willingness to groom his replacement by saying, “That’s how you make your legacy, when you teach a young guy and you sit at home retired and you see that young guy flourish, you’re like, ‘I helped him along his way.’ ’’

In the interim, Tunsil slid over to start at guard except for two games in which Albert wasn’t available, which was when Tunsil pushed over to left tackle.

Albert later explained that he had been taken aback by people assuming Tunsil would automatically step into the left tackle role as a rookie.

“I helped this team out and everybody’s always trying to write me off for whatever reason,” Albert said. “I keep proving everybody wrong. It wasn’t a swipe at him because I’ve got the utmost respect for the young man. That’s my guy.”

Albert added, “We all know he could play left tackle easily. He’s going to be the future of the offensive line.”

Albert joined the Dolphins in 2014 after six seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, who drafted him in the first round (15th overall) in 2008. Albert made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2015 but this season was ranked only No. 65 out of 78 tackles by Pro Football Focus.

Albert’s Dolphins career also has been marked by knee and wrist injuries. He missed seven games in 2014, two in 2015 and four last season. It was midway through last season that Albert admitted injuries were a bit of a sore subject.

“Everybody’s always trying to say about me, I can’t stay healthy,” he said.

The Williams experiment was by any measure a colossal failure. The former No. 1 overall pick was signed as a free agent despite being described as a loafer in Buffalo. Miami gave him a two-year, $17 million deal, half of which was guaranteed.

Despite having the fourth-highest cap number on the team last season, Williams quickly lost his starting job, spent three games on the inactive list and finished with just 13 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks.

To put it another way: The Dolphins are paying Williams $653,866.56 per tackle.

Thursday’s decisions will drastically reshape the Dolphins’ salary cap for 2017, eliminating half of the team’s top four salaries against the cap from last year: 1. Ryan Tannehill ($20.3 million), 2. Ndamukong Suh ($19.1M), Albert ($10.6) and Williams ($10.5M).

 

 

 

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The sting should last until the Super Bowl for the Miami Dolphins, then ‘you got to let it go’

Miami Dolphins Mike Pouncey and Jarvis Landry keep warm as the game slips away in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Wild Card Playoffs on Sunday at Heinz Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)
Miami Dolphins Mike Pouncey and Jarvis Landry keep warm as the game slips away in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Wild Card Playoffs on Sunday at Heinz Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

 

DAVIE – Branden Albert was stuffing everything he could into a clear plastic bag.

Clubhouse attendants were taping shut cardboard boxes with sticky notes that included the address where the box should be mailed.

Andre Branch was rushing so he could make the drive across Alligator Alley and up I-75 to Tampa to watch his alma mater, Clemson, play Alabama in Monday’s College Football Playoff championship.

The Miami Dolphins locker room on Monday had all the signs of the end of another season.

“It’s always tough ending the season because you’re going to be sitting at home on the weekend and watching other teams play for championships,” center Mike Pouncey said. “The camaraderie we built on this football team and the togetherness we have on this football team, it sucks seeing everybody having to separate and go their different ways.”

Moving day was bittersweet for the Dolphins. Most acknowledged going from 6-10 to 10-6 and ending the season with a winning record and in the postseason for the first time in eight years was a significant step.

But that also meant if a team is in the playoffs and unless it wins the Super Bowl, the season will end with a loss. For Miami being dominated by the Steelers 30-12 in the wild card round made it difficult to look at the big picture.

“We truly believed in this room we could make a run, a serious run,” receiver Kenny Stills said. “We truly believed that. We feel like we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.

“I’m sick about the game but I still understand where we’ve come. It’s something you can be proud of but it’s not something to hang your hat on.”

Significant steps were taken under first-year coach Adam Gase, especially considering playoff talk wasn’t even realistic after Miami lost four of its first five games.

But a 30-15 victory over the Steelers in Week 6 was the turning point as the Dolphins won nine of their next 10 games.

And even though that was Miami’s only victory over a team with a .500 record or better (the Dolphins were 1-6 in such games including the playoffs, 9-1 against teams under .500) that wasn’t about diminish what was accomplished during the regular season.

“It was successful,” safety Michael Thomas said about the season, “based upon how this team was performing in the most recent years. We’re resilient and we overcame a lot of adversity, especially when it came to injuries.

“Our goal was to make it to the playoffs, and we got out in the first round. Successful? Yes. But definitely not satisfying.”

Offensive lineman Jerman Bushrod believes the sting will last as long as football still is being played, which means another month as the division playoffs and conference championships lead to the two-week buildup to the Super Bowl.

But after a champion is crowned the 2016 season officially comes to an end.

“It’s going to be tough to deal with, but after the Super Bowl you got to let it go,” Bushrod said. “It’s a new year. It’s definitely tough anytime you get into that dance and you don’t do what you need to do.”

Then the pressure is on vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier to patch holes and deliver Gase a team he can work with to take the next step and enable the franchise to win a playoff game for the first time since 2000.

“I feel like it’s coming,” receiver Jarvis Landry said. “We’re not all the way there, but we started something under Gase and the staff that he’s brought in that will allow us to do something special here in the future.”