Last year the Miami Dolphins dove headfirst into free agency by signing the best wide receiver on the market, and this year they made another early splash with arguably the best left tackle –
The 6-foot-5, 316-pound former Kansas City Chief is coming off of a Pro Bowl season and now brings his talent and experience to Miami’s young offensive line. He becomes the first free agent signing for new General Manager Dennis Hickey and he made it no secret just how high on the list of priorities Albert was.
“He’s a premier player at a premier position and obviously with the Miami Dolphins the bar has been set pretty high with Richmond Webb at left tackle,” Hickey said. “We’re excited to bring in Branden Albert. He has always been a targeted guy from the first day I got here. He was the first guy that Coach (Joe) Philbin and I sat down and watched and as we continued to do our research and watched more film and talked collectively about him it was clear that he was going to be the targeted player for us.”
Hickey pointed out that quarterback
Albert has been training down in South Florida the last three offseasons and had a place in downtown Miami. Now that he is officially a Dolphin the 29-year-old admitted the he will need to find a place closer to the tam’s practice facility in Davie, but he is eager to begin the next phase of his career.
“Basically, I’m going to be here to play left tackle and make a difference and that’s the whole reason why I’m here, to be the caliber player I know I can be to help this team win and protect the quarterback,” said Albert, who has started 83 of the 85 games he has appeared in. “I’ve got to protect (Tannehill’s) blindside and we all know how important that is. The quarterback has to be upright to do his job and that’s what I’m here for, to protect his blindside so he can produce and do what he’s supposed to do.”
Even though the Dolphins weren’t his only suitor in free agency, Albert insisted they were the only team he wanted to play for because he feels this is a place where he can help out the most and further improve his legacy, especially as a leader on the offensive line. He played his college football at the University of Virginia, where he earned first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors as a junior.
Any questions about Albert’s health, specifically the back injury that slowed him down a couple of years ago, are no longer an issue according to him. He insists he is perfectly healthy now and definitely is not lacking in confidence when it comes to what he will bring to the Miami offense.
“Whoever the best pass rusher is on the other side I’ll block him. That’s my job, to protect the quarterback and open up the holes for the running backs and I think I can do it all,” Albert said. “They’ve got a lot of young talent and one of the young talents I like is Mike Pouncey. I’m very excited to play with him and I know the importance of having a great center. It’s important that an offensive line gels but if you’ve got guys like Mike Pouncey and a Branden Albert, guys that have been around, guys that have good leadership, part of the job of being a great player is bringing the other guys along and making sure you gel.”
Albert was just as impressed with Hickey, Philbin, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and offensive line coach John Benton as they were with him. Now that the contract is signed and he has been officially introduced, he is ready to get started.
“They seem pretty cool and they seem like they’re ready to win and want to win now,” Albert said. “I’m excited about that and this being my seventh year in the league and being drafted in the first round, I’ve had pressure on me my whole career. I’m just here to do my job and work and I’m ready to move on.”