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Branden Albert signs with Dolphins

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In what may be the worst kept secret of the "legal tampering" period over the weekend, offensive tackle Branden Albert and the Miami Dolphins were negotiating and said to be close on a deal. Today, that deal came to fruition as NFL free agency opened.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have a left tackle. In an offseason that will see the franchise completely rebuild their offensive line, the first piece has been put into place as the team signed offensive tackle Branden Albert. Over the weekend, during the league's "legal tampering" period, the deal was described as "expected." With the NFL Free Agency period opening this afternoon, the deal is now official.

Albert was selected to his first Pro Bowl last season after playing the year on the Kansas City Chiefs' franchise tag. The Dolphins and Chiefs had been working on a trade that would have sent the 2008 first-round Draft pick to Miami before last year's NFL Draft, but the two sides could not agree to terms, in part because the Chiefs refused to allow teams to conduct a physical on Albert.

Reports this offseason say Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was the impetus in trying to land Albert last season, while former general manager Jeff Ireland preferred to not trade away a draft pick when he felt the team could sign Albert this year. Both men were proven to be correct when the Dolphins offensive line allowed a franchise record 58 sacks in 2013 and second-year player Jonathan Martin failed as a left tackle, as Philbin feared, while the team now gets Albert without giving up the pick, as Ireland predicted. Of course, Ireland is no longer the GM of the Dolphins, in part because of his decision last year.

Albert has played 85 games in his six years with the Chiefs, starting 83, all at left tackle. He has missed games each of the last two years due to injuries, including four this past season, but, again, was named to the Pro Bowl as well. While contracts details are not yet officially known, it is expected that Albert's deal is in the neighborhood of 5-years, $45 million.

[UPDATE:]