Free agency doesn’t start for a few weeks, but the Miami Dolphins wanted to clean a little house on Thursday.
The Dolphins cut defensive end Mario Williams and were trying to trade left tackle Branden Albert, each big-name free-agency disappointments in their own way, according to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero. Salguero reported Albert would be cut, but after that report, the Dolphins decided to see if they could trade him before releasing him. They also cut defensive tackle Earl MItchell, not cheap himself at $16 million over four years (signed in 2014) and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
Albert was a huge signing when the Dolphins landed him in 2014, but he never really panned out, mostly because of injuries. Cutting him saves $7.2 million on the cap, Salguero reported. Laremy Tunsil, last year’s first-round pick, will replace him. Teams that need a left tackle, like the New York Giants and perhaps the Denver Broncos, will likely take a look at Albert. He could also move to guard.
Williams’ career has faded quickly the last couple years. His effort drew criticism with the Buffalo Bills in 2015, and it did again in Miami last season. He had 1.5 sacks last season, a massive disappointment. Williams is 32 and while he could draw some interest, teams will be wary of him at this point. His release saves the Dolphins $8.5 in cap room and cutting Mitchell saves $4 million more, Salguero said, so by cutting some overpaid veterans the Dolphins have loaded up on cap room – $19.7 million more if Albert is cut along with the other two, Spotrac confirmed – before free agency starts.
The Dolphins surprised everyone last season by surging after a terrible start and making the playoffs. Depending on how they re-invest the cap savings gained Thursday, they could be eyeing even bigger things next season.