The Miami Dolphins and their Florida brethren Jacksonville Jaguars have reportedly come together for a couple of trades.
The Dolphins and the Jaguars will essentially swap a tight end for a left tackle, but it took two separate deals to make things happen. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that the Dolphins will acquire veteran tight end Julius Thomas in exchange for a 2017 seventh-round draft choice.
Rapopart also said that there is a agreement in place between the teams that involves Miami sending starting left tackle Branden Albert to Jacksonville for a 2018 draft pick.
Neither deal can become official until the league’s new year begins on March 9. Both players will also have to pass a physical.
This seems like a very good deal for the Dolphins as Thomas should bolster their passing attack. Miami has been looking for a play-making tight end ever since Charles Clay bolted for Buffalo two off-seasons ago.
Thomas is one of the NFL’s better red zone threats, but he struggled to stay on the field since signing a five-year, $46 million free agent deal with the Jaguars in 2015. The 27-year-old is expected to restructure his contract when he meets with the team on Tuesday.
Thomas had 76 catches and nine touchdowns in 21 games with the Jaguars over two seasons. He had 30 receptions for 254 yards along with four touchdowns coming last year. For his career, Thomas has totaled 182 catches for 2,018 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Last year, the Dolphins ranked 26th in passing yards per game with 218.3. Yet, that is a little skewed as starter Ryan Tannehill missed the final three regular season games as well as the wild card game versus Pittsburgh. That is not to say that veteran Matt Moore didn’t do a good job as Tannehill’s replacement. Because he did a fine job.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry had a fantastic season for the Phins, hauling in 94 passes on 131 targets which equates to a 71.1 percent reception percentage. Landry, who had 16 receptions for 20 or more yards, was the team’s only reliable receiver. DeVante Parker (56 catches for 744 yards) and Kenny Stills (42 receptions for 726 yards along with nine touchdowns) showed flashes of brilliance though they were wildly inconsistent.
The bigger problem for the Dolphins were that they got very little production from their tight ends. In fact, the Phins’ tight ends combined for the second fewest receiving yards (551) in the league. Dion Sims led the group with 24 catches for 256 yards and four touchdowns. His highest output was four receptions which occurred on three different occasions.
Sims will be an unrestricted free agent in March as will fellow tight end Dominique Jones, who had seven catches for 61 yards. Long-time starter Jordan Cameron might not be back either as he suffered a concussion in Week three and didn’t play again, James Walker of ESPN recently wrote. The 28-year old has 173 catches but just 43 in two seasons with the Phins.
Reserve tight end MarQuis Gray and 2016 seventh-round selection Thomas Duerte are both under contract. Gray appeared in a career-high 16 games and hauled in a personal-best 14 passes.
With Thomas’ departure, Jacksonville could look to the free agent market for a starting tight end. Currently, the Jaguars have Marcedes Lewis along with youngsters Neal Sterling, Gannon Sinclair and Ben Koyack listed on their roster.
Like in Thomas’ case, injuries and salary were the the main reason that Miami traded Albert. The 32-year-old Albert, who started 118 games in his nine seasons, has missed 13 games over the last three seasons. He has two-years left on his contract and is scheduled to make $8.9 million this season. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald stated that the Jaguars might be willing to extend his contract.
Another reason that the Dolphins made the move was that their offensive line did a bang up job despite having a plethora of injuries. Plus, rookie Laremy Tunsil played out of position at left guard. Center Mike Pouncey appeared in just five games and finished the season on injured reserve. Jermon Bushrod, who is an unrestricted free agent, and Ja’Waun James were the only starting offensive linemen to appear in all 16 games.
Albert should step right in at left tackle as the Jags’ offensive line has been disastrous recently.
[Primary Image by Jose Juarez/AP Images]