At the start of the free agency period on Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins wasted no time in signing left tackle Branden Albert.Albert was the Dolphins’ top priority heading into free agency and the team finalized a contract over the weekend with him and his representatives. The deal is for five years worth over $9 million per year with $25M guaranteed. Other terms of the contract are not yet available. Albert will now be the anchor of an offensive line that gave up a franchise record 58 sacks last year. With just Albert alone, it’s a huge improvement.
What are the Dolphins getting in Albert? Let’s first take a look at his injury history. While he has a label of being injury-prone, he hasn’t missed many games in his career. In fact, he has only missed seven games since 2008 with three of them coming last year due to a knee injury in the latter part of the season. He has always battled injuries, but it looks like when the lights come on he is one of those guys who toughs it out and suits up ready to go.
He will be 30 years old in November which means he can probably give the Dolphins a good four or five years as long as he remains healthy before his play starts to decline at a noticeable rate. Within that time span, the Dolphins will be able to draft and groom a left tackle a few years from now to take over his spot when his time runs out.
Now, let’s look at some of his grades. According to Pro Football Focus, Albert had an overall grade of 11.5 in 883 snaps. He had an overall pass block grade of 14.7 and an overall run block grade of -2.3. He had nine penalties on the year and gave up four QB sacks, six QB hits and 16 QB hurries. Furthermore, in 475 passing plays, he had a pass blocking efficiency of of 96.2 percent, which was fourth best in the league for all tackles who participated in 60 percent or more of their team’s passing plays. In 2012, he played in 722 snaps and had an overall grade of 13.8, a pass block grade of 16.2 and a run block grade of -3.7.
To put that into perspective, let’s take a look at the man who he is replacing, Jonathan Martin. In 458 snaps, Martin had an overall grade of -6.9, a pass block grade of -3.0 and a run block grade of -5.5. He had three penalties and gave up seven QB sacks, seven QB hits and 15 QB hurries. He had a pass blocking efficiency of 92.1 percent, which ranked him towards the bottom of the league.
This means that Albert played in just about 50 percent more snaps and gave up less sacks, less hits and just one more hurry while he had a much better pass blocking efficiency percentage. It’s easy to see how much of an improvement Albert will be.
The Dolphins are no doubt getting a huge upgrade with Albert. His punch at the initial point of contact is very impressive and maintains contact with his man throughout the play. When he does slip up, he is very quick to recover and get back on his man. I am not concerned about his injuries as he is one who toughs it out and gives it his all during the games. While his specialty might not be run blocking, it’s not a huge deal since the primary job of the left tackle is to excel in pass blocking.
Upgrading the left tackle position is just a start. The Dolphins have a lot more work to do, and it will be fun to see who they target to clean up the remainder of the offensive line.