DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Tuesday’s 4 p.m. opening of free agency in the National Football League will likely see the Miami Dolphins make a big splash when they sign left tackle Branden Albert. But if things play out correctly, it won’t be the only big splash the Fins make.
Miami has around $35 million in salary cap space to work with and could increase that amount even more if the team cuts cornerback Dimitri Patterson. Albert is expected to sign a deal that will average out to roughly $9 million to $10 million per season.
The exact salary cap hit won’t be known until Albert’s contract is finalized, but the Fins expect to move on from there and target at least one more offensive lineman and a defensive lineman, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.
According to the Herald, two linemen who may get a look by the Dolphins are Jets right tackle Austin Howard and Saints tackle Zach Strief.
Signing Howard to play right tackle would simultaneously fill a need and weaken a division opponent. He’s started 32 straight games for the New York Jets and is a solid pass blocker, which appears to be what the Fins are focusing on when it comes to the offensive line.
The Jets though are trying everything in their power to keep Howard on the roster. The New York Daily News reported Monday the Jets were still trying to come to a contract agreement before he hits free agency. Both sides are talking and keeping him on the line would be a big benefit.
Strief is a 6’7”, 320 pound right tackle who will be 31-years-old this season. According to CBSSports.com, he could start for just about any team in the league. The last few years with the Saints have seen Strief protect quarterback Drew Brees, which again is what the Dolphins are looking for from linemen.
The Saints don’t have the salary cap space the Dolphins do, so Miami could frontload an offer to insure the team gets Strief if that’s who general manager Dennis Hickey picks.
If the Dolphins want to turn the attention to the guard position along the offensive line, the top two guards hitting free agency are Jon Asamoah and Zane Beadles. Neither is over 27-years-old, and both played with solid offensive lines last season.
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