Surprising no one, new Miami Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey's top priority in free agency has been revealed to be addressing the team's needs on offensive line.
The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reports:
Branden Albert (who appears to be very, very high on Miami's wish list) and Eugene Monroe aren't the only veteran offensive linemen attracting Dolphins interest early in free agency. ...The Dolphins also have expressed strong interest in St. Louis guard/tackle Rodger Saffold.
And the Dolphins today also reached out to Oakland free agent left tackle Jared Veldheer, who missed 11 games last season with a torn triceps. Veldheer is an option if Miami doesn't sign Albert or Saffold or Monroe.
Branden Albert's final price is likely to be a bit cheaper than Monroe's given that Monroe is widely considered to be the superior free agent given his better durability and younger age, though neither tackle will be cheap. Rodger Saffold has played well at offensive tackle in the past, but he's been excellent when playing at guard, and the Dolphins see him primarily as a guard but could play him at tackle if necessary. Veldheer is considered a very good young left tackle that the Raiders have decided to let hit free agency despite a ton of cap room, likely due to his injury history.
One red flag common to 3 out of 4 players (all except Monroe) is that they have histories of being limited with injury. Albert was limited to 12 games last year and has a history of back issues. Veldheer had a torn triceps injury that cost him 11 games last year, but he played all 16 regular season games for the 3 seasons before last year. Saffold has a history of shoulder and knee injuries that have limited him to 9, 10 and 12 games the past 3 seasons. That will likely limit their asking price a bit, but signing offensive linemen with injury histories is likely a sore subject for Dolphin fans who remember the big signings of Justin Smiley and Jake Grove by the previous front office regime in 2008 and 2009.
However, signing offensive linemen who have a strong history of durability combined high play tends to be very expensive, and Eugene Monroe reportedly rejected an offer from the Ravens that would have paid him nearly $9 million per year, with his asking price being a deal that averages $10 million per year. It would appear that Hickey would prefer to avoid getting in a bidding war for Monroe (at least for now).