What’s draft day without intrigue?
Cue the Dolphins, the Chiefs and their on-again, off-again, and now on-again trade talks.
With draft weekend serving as a hard deadline, the teams spent much of Wednesday discussing the terms of a deal that would send left tackle Branden Albert to Miami, according to a team source. It is believed the Chiefs want one of the Dolphins’ two second-round picks in return.
Although talks had heated up Wednesday morning, the teams remained at an impasse at nightfall. Chiefs general manager John Dorsey told NFL Network late in the day that trade compensation was the hold-up, but talks would continue through the night.
A source told The Miami Herald that the Dolphins were on board with the parameters of a contract, and are prepared to pay him elite left tackle money.
But Albert is not the only one whose name is tied to Dolphins trade talks. Miami appears to be poised to say goodbye to Davone Bess as it engages in trade talks with multiple teams about the 27-year-old receiver, who is apparently the odd man out after it signed free agents Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, a league source told The Miami Herald.
A deal involving Bess, who has caught at least 50 passes in each of his first five seasons and who is entering a contract year, appears likely, and he is prepared to be moved. Any trade involving a midround pick probably would be contingent on Bess signing an extension.
That deal potentially could wait until Saturday morning. However, the Albert situation is far more pressing.
Kansas City owns the No. 1 overall selection, and will be on the clock just after 8 p.m. Thursday. For months, the Chiefs seemed poised to take Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, a pure left tackle.
But if the draft begins and Albert (who doesn’t want to play right tackle) remains on Kansas City’s roster, the Chiefs instead could select Eric Fisher, who can play on both the left and right sides of the line.
And if that happens, look out.
“I think there’s more uncertainty at the top end of this draft than I’ve ever been associated with and I think it adds more drama,” said Mike Mayock, a draft expert with NFL Network. “I do think there’s going to be some movement — especially at the tackle position.”
Privately, the Dolphins front office acknowledges the draft could go in a hundred different directions by the time they’re on the clock at No. 12. The variables in play are countless, and misinformation is rampant.
Teams long tied to trade rumors probably won’t make a deal until they see who is left on the board around their pick, swayed by who has fallen and who has not.
And the Albert negotiations only add to this drama.
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland could potentially hold off on a deal until Friday, preferring to see how the first round plays out. There are tackle prospects in the pool cheaper and probably better than Albert, if Ireland is willing to go up and get one.
One popular rumor: if the Chiefs do take Fisher first overall, the Dolphins will try to work a deal with Oakland and jump from 12th to third so they can select Joeckel, assuming he gets past Jacksonville.
Such a trade would be costly. The Dolphins probably would have to give up their first, a second and both of their third-round picks to make it happen.
It is unlikely the Dolphins would trade up for Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson, because they don’t like him as much as the other two elite left tackles. Alabama’s D.J. Fluker has the best odds of being available at No. 12, but many believe a pick that high would be a stretch for a right tackle.
Of course, those are just a few scenarios.
The Dolphins also could target a cornerback (possibilities include Dee Milliner, D.J. Hayden and Desmond Trufant), a pass rusher (Barkevious Mingo, Ezekiel Ansah, Tank Carradine), a defensive tackle (Star Lotulelei, Sheldon Richardson, Sylvester Williams) or a tight end (Tyler Eifert).
Then again, maybe Ireland has something else in mind. Perhaps he’ll find the promise of West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro or even Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o too much to turn down, even though none would fill glaring positions of need.
Put it all together, and this should make for an unpredictable and uneasy opening two hours to the team’s 48th draft. So in that way, the Dolphins will have a lot in common with the roughly two-dozen first-round prospects headed to Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night.
This time last year, Ryan Tannehill was in that exact spot. Tannehill didn’t know the Dolphins were going to pick him eighth overall, he said this week. The waiting, as they say, truly was the hardest part.
“It felt like an eternity,” Tannehill recalled. “The clock is ticking by, and you look down and it’s only been five minutes.
“That’s certainly a slow wait.”