Barry Jackson

Dolphins optimistic on guard search and Phillips; Marlins sale update

Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Branden Albert (76) motivates the fans as the fourth quarter winds down as Miami hosts the Houston Texans at Sun Life Stadium on Sun., Oct. 25, 2015.
Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Branden Albert (76) motivates the fans as the fourth quarter winds down as Miami hosts the Houston Texans at Sun Life Stadium on Sun., Oct. 25, 2015.

A six-pack of Dolphins and Marlins notes on a Friday afternoon:

• One of the reasons the Dolphins are moving on from Branden Albert was this realization: With the expectation that Laremy Tunsil will excel at left tackle, they believe they can find a guard for considerably less money than the $8.87 million that Albert was due to make had he remained with the Dolphins next season.

Consider that the New England Patriots paid less that $1 million combined for the guards who started in the Super Bowl: Joe Thuney ($450,000) and Shaq Mason ($525,000).

The Dolphins believe that if they make smart decisions, they can find guards at good value.

There are several quality guards expected to hit free agency, but Kevin Zeitler (rated seventh among all guards by Pro Football Focus) would be pricey, as would TJ Lang (eighth), Larry Warford (20th) and Ronald Leary (24th).

One impending free agent guard who has a history with Adam Gase: Patrick Omameh, who graded out well as the Bears right guard in 2015 when Gase was offensive coordinator (two sacks allowed in 11 games) and allowed no sacks in eight games at left guard for Jacksonville last season before a foot injury.

Omameh, 27, was PFF’s No. 31 guard last season.

The Dolphins could fill one guard spot with a reasonably priced free agent and the other with some combination of Kraig Urbik, Anthony Steen or a draft pick. Jermon Bushrod is an impending free agent.

• Colleague Armando Salguero reported today about ongoing conversations between the Dolphins and Jaguars regarding a trade involving Albert, with tight end Julius Thomas possibly coming to Miami in such a deal.

All parties involved would be happy to see that Albert/Jaguars deal materialize.

Of that trade, one involved party texted today: “Hopefully will get done. Still things to be ironed out.”

If the Dolphins were to get Thomas, keep in mind that he thrived in Denver when Gase was offensive coordinator there in 2013 and 2014.

In 2013, he caught 12 touchdown passes (third in the league among tight ends), 65 passes (ninth among tight ends) for 12.1 yards per catch (13th). In 2014, he caught 43 passes for 489 yards and his 12 TD catches tied for the league lead among tight ends.

Last season, playing with erratic quarterback Blake Bortles in Jacksonville, he caught 30 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns.

The bad news: Thomas is due $7 million next season, with an $8.3 million cap hit. He’s due $8.5 million and $9 million the following two seasons, though the Dolphins always could renegotiate.

• With Earl Mitchell’s release, Jordan Phillips becomes the likely starter at defensive tackle opposite Ndamukong Suh.

“I had a better year but not as consistent as I need to be,” Phillips told me late last season. “I need to play better. It’s not about making plays. It’s knowing I dominated the person in front of me. I didn’t do that enough.”

Before leaving for the Denver head coaching job, Vance Joseph said of Phillips: “Jordan is a player that, if you can take his explosive or flash plays, you can make a tape and it's special. But you can take his bad plays also and make a lowlight tape. So he's a young player that's inconsistent. He's obviously a big man with talent. If he's on and doing it right, he can be a special help to us... but he's got to put the bad plays to rest.”

• Marlins president David Samson said today that the Marlins are no longer negotiating with the Kushner group about a potential sale but are engaged in discussions with multiple other suitors.

According to someone directly involved in negotiations, the Marlins were talking exclusively with the Kushners through Tuesday night. Joseph Meyer, Joshua Kushner’s brother-in-law, confirmed substantial progress in talks.

But those talks ended Wednesday morning because the Kushners were not comfortable proceeding with sales talks after learning that Jeffrey Loria is being considered for the ambassador post to France.

Joshua Kushner is the brother of Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, so a Kushner sale might have appeared to be a conflict of interest.

“There are many groups who are interested,” Samson said. “We field offers often. The difference now is those offers are being looked at very seriously.

“I have great respect for Josh. I enjoyed the process of getting to know Josh and Joseph and the process that didn’t come to a final conclusion. And that’s how it goes. That’s not an uncommon thing that deals don’t happen. That is normal.

“For me, that deal didn’t happen. A different deal may happen or will happen.”

Samson confirmed Loria is in the mix for the France ambassador post.

• The Dan Straily pickup means Jeff Locke has gone from likely No. 5 starter to a role in long relief.

But Locke – while willing to do anything asked of him - admits: “I’ve never been really that comfortable down there [in the bullpen]. The rotation is something I've done my whole life. I did a little of bullpen stuff last year in Pittsburgh. I never thought it was too much of a challenge to pitch out of the bullpen. It's just pitching the next day out of the bullpen, or the day after that.”

• Regarding an opening day starter April 3 in Washinghton, Don Mattingly said: "I think the one guy we look to who is probably the most experienced and has been through a lot is Edinson Volquez. But I don't really know if we have to really say anybody is our No. 1."

Adam Conley told me Monday that he would love to land the opening-day start. “I intend on earning that opportunity and having a streak of them,” he said.

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