Could Branden Albert be a trade target for the New York Giants?
Jan 1, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Branden Albert (76) protects the line during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have made it known that left tackle Branden Albert is available. The tackle-thin Giants could make a move for the veteran.

An adequate offensive line could be the last puzzle piece to a Super Bowl for the New York Giants. The upcoming draft is not heavy with offensive line prospects, which could make this offseason’s free agency all the more crucial.

Mike Garafalo of the NFL Network reported on Thursday that the Miami Dolphins plan to trade former Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert.

He originally reported that the Dolphins had planned to cut the 32-year-old but decided they may be able to get some sort of return in a trade. Albert, who made a Pro Bowl as recently as 2015, has two years remaining on his current contract and a cap hit of $10.6 million for 2017.

A tackle of Albert’s quality is obviously going to draw some level of trade interest. The Giants, who desperately need to address their current tackle situation, could be in the market for the former Virginia Cavalier.

Albert could immediately step in to protect Eli Manning‘s blind side. Ereck Flowers struggled enough in his sophomore season that a move to right tackle or guard seems imminent. Although 32 years old, Albert is a risk worth taking for the G-men. Given his current contract situation, age, and injury history, a late round pick could get a deal done.

Though Albert represents an immediate upgrade on the offensive line, he also comes with risks. He hasn’t played a full season since 2011, which is also the only full season of his career. His contract is also an issue, especially with the number of important free agents the Giants would like to keep in East Rutherford. Whether he’d be willing to restructure remains to be seen, but that bridge obviously doesn’t need to be crossed just yet.

Let’s get another thing straight here: the Dolphins aren’t trying to dump Albert on a team because of performance issues. Rookie Laremy Tunsil impressed enough at guard in his rookie season for Miami to give him the starting left tackle job (Tunsil did play tackle in college). Albert’s age and contract make him somewhat expendable, hence why his soon to be former employer is looking to create cap space by removing him from the current roster.

The Giants could land a tackle in the draft, though, this year’s class isn’t nearly as impressive as in previous years. Andrew Whitworth is the obvious big ticket free agent, but at age 35, he’ll also have his question marks.

The Giants have over $30 million in cap space, and Albert’s salary next year represents a road block to completing their offseason goals. Quality left tackles don’t come cheaply either, so it will be interesting to see how GM Jerry Reese approaches this situation. Reese, who doesn’t have much history trading for pricy veterans, could have his hand forced with a team in win-now mode.

Albert wearing blue next season is realistic; should it actually happen, expect some restructuring from one if not several veterans.

Central jersey born and bred. Monmouth University alumnus. Sports are not games, rather ways of life. Twitter: @Gcam92 Contact: