Miami Dolphins: Branden Albert Signing Imminent, Is Jairus Byrd Next?

Richard Santamaria@RiSantamariaCorrespondent IIMarch 10, 2014

Miami Dolphins Brian Hartline (82) fumbles the ball asBuffalo Bills' Stephon Gilmore (27) and Jairus Byrd (31) hit him during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 in Orchard Park, N.Y.  Byrd recovered the fumble on the play.(AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins are being aggressive in free agency for the second year in a row, and, while new general manager, Dennis Hickey, is digging deep to improve his team, Miami fans are being pleased.

The signing of Brent Grimes was critical for the Dolphins, and Hickey succeeded there, landing the top cornerback in the free-agent market for $32 million over four years, with $16 million guaranteed.

Miami desperately needs to improve their offensive line and it appears the Dolphins have landed one of the top left tackles in the market.  According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Miami and Branden Albert are believed to have made a tentative agreement, which will be finalized on Tuesday.  Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald stated his newspaper "has heard the same from league sources."

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Albert rated as the 11th-best tackle defending the pass in 2013, despite missing four games.  As a run blocker, Albert received a slightly negative grade.  Reading between the lines, the Dolphins appear prepared to lean heavily on Ryan Tannehill and their passing attack in 2014.

In an unexpected twist, the Miami Dolphins appear to be pursuing the top 2014 free agent, Jairus Byrd.  According to's Ian Rapoport, Miami is showing "real interest" in the Bills safety.

Among the teams expressing real interest in #Bills S Jairus Byrd? The #Dolphins. Gearing up for another big year in free agency

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2014

It is clear that the Dolphins are looking for a new free safety either because they are not satisfied with Chris Clemons or are trying to gain leverage in an attempt to re-sign him.  According to Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel, Miami hosted Louis Delmas on February 28.  Delmas started for the Detroit Lions last year.

While Byrd is a clear improvement over Clemons, Delmas is not, according to Pro Football Focus.  Among all safeties, Pro Football Focus ranked Byrd eighth, Clemons 19th and Delmas 26th.

Will Hickey and the Dolphins give Byrd $9 million a year?  Is Byrd worth it?  In five NFL seasons, Byrd has made 356 total tackles, 22 interceptions and forced 11 fumbles.  Byrd led the league in 2009 with nine interceptions.  Byrd's five-year resume also includes three Pro Bowls and three All-Pro nominations.  There is no doubt Byrd is one of the best cover safeties in the NFL.

With a free-agent haul that begins with Brent Grimes, Branden Albert and Jairus Byrd, the Miami Dolphins will be well on their way to the playoffs in 2014.