The anticipated first potential trade of the offseason is an all-Florida swap that ended up being two separate deals, with one reportedly complete. The Jaguars and Dolphins are said to be finalizing a deal that would send tight end Julius Thomas to the Dolphins for a late-round pick in 2017.
The other deal, which could come as soon as Tuesday according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport involves Miami sending left tackle Branden Albert to Jacksonville in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2018. The only hang-up now is renegotiating both contracts, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Albert is due more than $18 million in salary over the next two years, with a cap hit of $10.6 million this year and $11.3 million next year. As we’ve said before, that’s a lot of money for a left tackle who can’t stay on the field for 16 games.
Thomas has been a disappointment for the Jags every since signing a five-year, $46 million contract in 2015. He’s totaled just 76 catches for 736 yards and nine touchdowns in only 21 games there.
For the Dolphins, Thomas would replace departing free agent tight end Jordan Cameron, himself a disappointing pickup from two years ago. Thomas’ current deal carries an $8.3 million cap hit this year, $9.8 in 2018 and $10.3 in 2019.
The Jaguars would definitely be getting the better deal here. Albert’s 32 and hasn’t played a full season since 2011, but when he is on the field, he’s a good left tackle, something the Jaguars desperately need, especially if Doug Marrone’s administration is going to take one last chance at salvaging Blake Bortles.
Thomas is more of a luxury for the Dolphins. We’ll see if he agrees to a new contract and what kind of pay cut that carries, if any, but it’s hard to make a case that Thomas makes Miami a better team (especially since they’re going to have to overhaul their defense this offseason and fix up the offensive line with a need at both guard positions now).
One angle that makes the Thomas trade a little more enticing for the Dolphins is the Adam Gase connection. Thomas had the best years of his career in Denver when Gase was the OC, with 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2013 and 2014. You’ll also recall that those were pretty incredible seasons from Peyton Manning (and I’m going to guess that had something to do with it, too). Ryan Tannehill isn’t Peyton Manning, but what mediocre quarterback wouldn’t like having a potentially dynamic tight end in the huddle with him.
This is what the Dolphins do in the offseason: big, splashy moves that end in disappointment. We’ll see if this year turns out to be any different.